Written (July, 2013)
Today, I watched the movie “Message in the Bottle”. It’s a movie with Kevin Costner based on a book written by Nicholas Sparks. It’s been around for years and I’ve watched it at least a handful of times. It’s a beautiful love story that can bring tears to the eyes of any and all viewers, even after you’ve seen it a handful of times. Watching it today my heart was filled with so much joy. I could see and feel the love between Garret and Teresa, but the joy I felt wasn’t their joy, it was my own. The joy between my husband and I. For some of you that may be a familiar feeling to watch a love story and to see your marriage reflected in their happiness. For me, that was a new feeling. Jim and I just celebrated our 17th anniversary this past week but you see, much of our marriage has been in severe turmoil and crisis. For more than a decade our marriage was an extreme disaster. Not a few months or even a few years, but more than a decade. The last time I remember watching this movie my emotions were quite different. I can still remember my heart feeling heavy and absent at the same time. My stomach was in knots and several parts of my body seemed to shake like they were trying to runaway from the mess of my life. The emptiness I felt was so great and it came from the knowledge of knowing I was stuck in a loveless marriage; doomed to suffer emotionally for the rest of my days with a husband I had grown to hate. Trapped in my Catholic beliefs, rejecting divorce, I knew I was doomed never to feel or share a love even close to the love acted out in the movie. My emptiness lead me to tears and I wept for days after the movie knowing I was sentenced to a life and marriage void of love, passion, and hope. For so long I had been stuck in a bad place, but years later how can I watch the same movie (still married to the same man) and feel so drastically different? Maybe I cheated on my husband and it’s the affair where I found it? Maybe I threatened to leave and take the kids and it snapped Jim straight? Nope, none of those are correct. So what really happened? I prayed and I trusted and believed God had a plan for me and our marriage. When you are drowning in a loveless marriage, no matter the reason, our instinct is to bolt! We convince ourselves we deserve to be happy NOW and that God would want us to be happy NOW! Or to protect our children, we convince ourselves that our children deserve parents that can get along, NOW! Every inch of us is convinced we should run and leave this marriage in the rear view mirror! Praying and trusting God’s plan is not simple and it is a daily struggle. For years I have lived in marital unhappiness in exchange for a belief or promise that God knows better than I do. Through daily prayer and surrender I have learned to be a “servant spouse”. My days are spent in service to my husband, my kids, my neighbor, and my God. In surrendering my needs to God, He saved our marriage. Both my husband and I have been transformed. Our marital happiness is now a 12 (on a scale of 1-10) when it once was a 1. Our physical intimacy is best described as fireworks and it once was non-existent. At one point in our marriage the idea of being intimate with Jim was so terrible, I truly was unable to because it would have been like making love to the devil. And our children, are they truly better off that we stayed together? Yes they are!! Not only are they currently experiencing a happy, loving marriage but now they know what unconditional love is. What it looks like and feels like and how a hopeless marriage can be saved! And as Christians, they now have 1st hand knowledge of what it means to carry our cross and truly trust God. Now Jim and I both have very clear pictures of how God can use our history and pain to help other couples persevere, to not give up! We know that God’s plan for you and your marriage contains more joy and happiness than you can imagine or create on your own.
Action: Today, decide to be true to your marriage vows. You may not love your spouse today or they may not love you but you can decide to trust God to keep his promise to your marriage. Decide today to pray for your marriage everyday! Everyday, one day at a time!
Prayer for Marriage In Crisis:
Heavenly Father, today I feel broken and alone. Our love that was once strong is now lost. I do not have the strength to fight for my marriage one more day BUT I trust that you do! I give you our marriage to protect and heal; to do with it what only you can. Help me to trust in your supernatural ability to save our marriage. Give me the strength to believe, if even just for today, that one day we will love each other again. I believe that you can save us, in your time and in your way, grant me the patience I need to persevere while you carry us. Bless any interactions I may have with my spouse today and help me to choose to act in love toward them. God Help Me! I trust in you! Amen!
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