My husband and I were married in 2005 and about as soon as the echo of ‘I do’ faded the marriage hit rock bottom and then continued to worsen from there. We had gone through a three year period of dating that was fraught with warning signs of things to come but somehow we remained together and made it down the aisle.
As soon as we set up house we came face to face with the reality of an insurmountable mountain of debt that Husband had accumulated prior to marriage which eventually resulted in bankruptcy. This was a very, very difficult thing to go through. We know that many marriages crumble under the weight of financial woes. If this is you, I feel for you – I know how hard it is.
Another thing that came to light after marriage was my husband’s habit of lying. It was so bad that it would be accurate to call him a pathological liar – he routinely lied with or without reason. If he was caught in a lie he became severely enraged and put the blame back on me. For most of our marriage he blamed everything on me, including everything that he himself did/thought/felt/said. Literally everything was my fault, including our extremely shaky financial situation that he had created all by himself before marriage – he blamed me for not working although I applied to every available job I could find. It was that way with everything. I suppose that that was how he was able to live with himself all those years - if it was all my fault then he really didn’t have any responsibility in our marriage and I alone was the problem in every area.
Before you think that I was a good woman, let me shatter your illusion. I returned blow for blow and blamed him for just about everything as well. I was a severely broken woman and I was A-N-G-R-Y like I cannot even describe to you. Some of my anger I could justify, but certainly I cannot justify how I used that anger. What I mean by that is that my husband had no business lying to me at all, most especially not with the frequency and predictability that he did, or about the things he lied about; he also had no business assigning blame to me that didn’t belong to me and so on. These behaviours are extremely hurtful and especially to someone like me with the history that I already had and feelings of anger at such betrayal are normal. However, I am called to handle that anger without sinning! As you read the rest of this post just imagine that the whole timeframe I’m talking about I was screaming, cursing, and burying my husband under a mountain of scathing verbiage. That will give you pretty accurate view of my marital contributions.
What it came down to was Husband would do something and I would react with anger. This was the cycle. Whatever the problem, it was almost always he that instigated it and me that flew into a rage and thus perpetuated the ugly cycle. It began when I found out that he had lied about some very important things that would have caused me to seriously reconsider marriage to him. He hadn’t simply omitted the information (still a lie anyway), but he had looked me directly in the eye on several occasions and verbalised an untruth that was very important to me. This shattered all the trust that I had in him, which was precious little to begin with.
There were problems with opposite-gender relationships that did so much damage to our marriage that I’m not even going to bother trying to explain because I can’t string enough words together properly to illustrate the pain of it all. It didn’t take long until we came to the point where we loathed one another.
While I mostly used words and volume to attack him, he began to use physical force with me. At first it was rough pushes into chairs. Sometimes he would push me against the wall, squeeze his hands around my neck just enough to really feel pressure and terrify me but not enough to be physically damaging. He would threaten suicide and he would throw things around the house. He used words as well – very, very damaging words. I hit him also – beating my fists against his chest and pushing against him. The thing with the physical aspect of it is that he is twice my size and I am not a physically strong person. This does not excuse my behaviour but it does mean that he could inflict serious damage on my body with little effort while I would only be able to cause physical harm to him if I had a weapon and the element of surprise on my side. And it also means that I lived in fear for my life on several occasions.
By October of 2007 I was so completely worn out emotionally and physically and every other way a woman can be worn out that I pretty well just gave up on life and marriage. We had an eight month old daughter at the time and I chose to leave because I was sure that if I remained there I would suffer a complete mental and physical breakdown. I still think that if nothing had changed and I had remained at that time that is what would have happened. The long and short of it is that I left, Husband and I both had an affair, I experimented with drugs and alcohol. We did reconcile three months later. A few months after that he was arrested, charged and convicted on several counts of assault, and uttering a death threat against me. He had degenerated into such a monster that I was afraid enough of him that I went to the police. His sentence was eighteen months on parole and no contact with me for most of that time.
When we reconciled after the restraining order was lifted we had high hopes for our marriage. He appeared to have made many changes and I thought I had too. But it was not so. Our hearts had not changed. We had tried to change ourselves only and left God out of it.
The one very good thing that came about through the law’s involvement was the exposure of what kind of a man he was. Nobody but me had any idea what sort of man he was because he is a likeable kind of person; easygoing and sociable. You would not be likely to suspect him as the type of person that would be capable of any of the things he did in our marriage. Being that the arrest and restraining order were things that he could not keep under wraps his cover was blown wide open. If anything, I was the one that looked far more guilty in our marriage than he before his conviction and that was just the way he liked it. When he couldn’t hide behind my more obvious failures any longer, he became sobered up to the fact that he was considerably riddled with faults and failures for the first time. This was a good beginning. Unfortunately, things became even worse not very long after this new and promising start to our reconciled marriage.
When things once again escalated into violence and then sexual violence, I sunk into such a deep depression that I stayed and I did nothing at all. I had once involved the law and it had accomplished nothing, and I did not think that anyone in the church would be able to help me because the things that were happening were so disgusting and shameful that I couldn’t bring myself to say them to someone and risk being rejected and blown off because they didn’t want to be tainted with the ugliness.
Something happened though that was frightening enough that I was jolted from my depression. I had to do something. I have always been rather a feisty woman and I have always given my husband as much grief as I’ve gotten from him – the only difference being, of course, that he has far more power to cause me physical harm than I him. After he relapsed when the law had been involved, I was just so depressed and I didn’t do anything for a while. But a day came where I had to wake up and make a choice.
When I went to church with my daughter the next Sunday I told someone I needed help and they gave it to me. I was surprised; I had said it basically out of desperation – grasping at a straw and not really believing that anyone would be willing or able to help me. That was a turning point. I confessed everything to this woman and she set the wheels in motion. My husband was contacted by the pastor and called to give an account. Thereafter we each were placed in a mentorship/accountability relationship with the pastor couple.
My husband just broke before God that day. He agreed to submit to the intervention of the church and be accountable to them (and of course to God) for his actions. It is a marvelous thing that I am witnessing. He is gentle and compassionate; slow to anger and quick to accept responsibility for his failures; he is affectionate and full of goodwill; he seeks out God’s word and prays. I literally could not have ever imagined that he would one day be the man that he is today. What God has done in each of our hearts and in our marriage is absolutely a miracle. All the years that we kept trying to do things on our own failed and ended up just intensifying all that was bad already because we could not change our hearts. Only when we gave up everything to God did anything change because He is the only one that is in the business of changing a person’s heart.