I remember sitting in our pastors office for premarital counseling when he asked us how we would respond when life got difficult. I told him that divorce was a word that simply would not be in our vocabulary. He kept pushing me for more. What did that look like? How? Why? At that time in the office it was easy enough to say, that divorce wouldn’t exist in our world. Little did I know that twelve years later, I would have left my husband and be looking up a divorce attorney. I was done. We were done. We were both so hurt and broken. That’s when we were finally able to both let the Lord begin His healing.
Shortly after the “I dos” we started down a rocky road. We both truly believe that it began when I started taking birth control pills right before the wedding. They sent me spiraling into depression and messed up my hormones in a way I’d never experienced. I was unstable mentally and emotionally. We never even had the chance for the “honeymoon” period most newlyweds go through. Our marriage was rocky from the start. It continued this way for years. Neither of us were fulfilled, and we were on a downward spiral.
Life continued, and six years into marriage we had our first child. My depression worsened, as did our relationship. Two years later we had our second child. My issues with hormones had left me to the point of not being able to function. My brain was shutting down on me. I couldn’t remember anything, I could not have done simple arithmetic. I was an emotional wreck. Our home became a home of turmoil, constant strife and anger. I’d sought medical help over the years. They would order tests, all of which came back normal. I knew there was something wrong with me, but no one else did. They couldn’t put a number with it, so it wasn’t real. They called it Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and gave me anti-depressant after anti-depressant. They would help somewhat for 6 months to a year, then fail and leave me even worse. Multiple drugs later, they all still failed.
My husband was doing the best he could, living with an unstable, crazy wife. He provided a great deal of primary care for the kids as there were some days I just couldn’t get out of bed. All this while running his own business. Life was just plain hard.
Finally, one hot August Thursday night, the end of the battle came. Not in the way I thought though. I left. Well, to be honest, I’d left my husband hundreds of times. Or at least I’d threatened too. I’d packed my clothes. I’d left. But this time, I was serious. I was DONE. And instead of pleading with me like all the other times, he was DONE. We were done. I actually considered ending my life. I thank God for His grace that He didn’t allow me to follow through. Throughout the years, well meaning, but oblivious Christian friends tried to convince me to leave. They insisted my husband was abusing me. The sad truth of the matter was it was quite the opposite. No one would listen. He was the man, there was obviously abuse and I just didn’t realize it, or I was in the victim role of denying it because I deserved it. No, frankly, I was the abusive one. Thank God, I never laid a hand on my children. His protection in that is incredible.
The next morning after a sleepless night, everything changed. It wasn’t instant, but we were on the path to healing. We met with a pastor in our town who did counseling. Everything was laid bare. Everything. How shameful it felt to admit what I’d done to my husband over the years. We established a game plan. The next Monday I went to see an alternative medicine naturopath. As nothing else had worked we figured there was nothing to lose. She ran multiple tests that no one else had. It quickly revealed why my brain had been shutting down and that my hormones were indeed off. We set up a treatment plan and within the week, my brain was functioning again. I could remember a list of three things, something that had been impossible just a month before.
As the physical healing continued, the emotional healing continued. Using the boundaries we had established with the counselor, we both learned how we were to function through the healing. I had accountability with someone from whom I could hide nothing. She knew all the dirty, icky details. There was no hiding. And that’s okay. While I was deeply ashamed and embarrassed for a while, I also found incredible healing in facing the truth and my sin. In no longer being able to hide my secrets, I truly understood the power of what Jesus did on the cross when He took my sin and shame. He bore it that I might be forgiven.
God’s grace prevailed in our lives. We finally laid our burdens and hurt down. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t an easy journey. The next several months were very difficult. By Christmas, my hormones were more stable than they had been in 15 years. We had learned to communicate with each other. This great lesson in humility taught me to be self-less and what it meant to be a submissive, respectful wife. When I began to do that, my husband felt like he could conquer the world. While ultimately fulfillment must come from Christ, he knew that his wife was standing behind him.
I praise God for His faithfulness in our lives. He never gave up on us. He took broken pieces of our sin and selfishness and has created it into a beautiful marriage. Our home has gone from chaos and turmoil to a peaceful, loving, joyful home. While the road has been hard, if I knew I’d get to the same place in my life and marriage, I would do it again in a heart beat.
How about you? Can any of you relate to Lily's story?
If you have questions for Lily, leave them in the comments or leave your email address if you'd prefer to ask in private; she'll get back to you as soon as she can.
About The Author: Bob & Lily live in the Pacific Northwest. They are the parents of two wonderful children who Lily homeschools. Bob runs a small business from home. They will celebrate 14 years of marriage this May.