11 Years and going

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*If you’re prone to gossip and judgement – please do not continue to read. I am bearing my soul in this post and will be sharing a very private part of my life. I am writing this in hopes of helping others, not so that others can pass judgment and/or gossip.*

Today marks 11 years of marriage for my husband and I. Eleven years! It doesn’t seem that long, but it also seems longer than that, and yet it seems like just yesterday we started dating (which was in January of 2002). In the time that we’ve been married, we have rescued a shelter dog (who is now at least 12-13 years old and her age is showing..sad :(), we have survived multiple job losses, many moves, deaths (not us, of course..obviously…), births, fights, saw family and friends marry (and some divorce – always a sad thing), and saw our firstborn son come into the world.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

We were both born and raised in Ohio and lived with our parents until we got married (my husband moved into our first place, a townhouse, about a month prior to the wedding). We then moved to Michigan, back to Ohio, out to Vegas, and then back to Michigan. We’ve lived with my sister (and her husband), my husband’s brother (and his wife), and my husband’s parents. We’ve gone through periods of living in separate states because of those moves. Every move, but one, actually, involved us living separately for a time period. Let’s see if I can remember all the moves and dates…

  1. September 2004 – August 2005 = we lived in Ohio (on our own). My husband worked midnights and I worked days.
  2. August 2005 – My husband drove to Michigan during the week for what he was told would be a temporary assignment. A few weeks into it, they informed him that either he take the job, permanently, or he would be laid off. We felt we had no choice and he took the position. He was still working midnights and I was working days.
  3. September 2005 – We moved everything into a storage facility in Michigan and moved in with my husband’s brother and sister-in-law.
  4. November 2005 – We purchased our current 2 bedroom condo, believing it would be a 5 year deal..we’d live there for 5 years and then move up to a bigger place. HA!!!!! I mean, we’re still here. We bought really high. You live and you learn. We were both working days, however, so that was a nice change.
  5. July 2007 – My husband’s job (different company, but same field) moved him back to Ohio – he moved in with his parents. I stayed in Michigan until I was able to land a job, which wasn’t for another 9 weeks, so in September of 2007. We took turns going back and forth on the weekends until I moved back. We stayed with his parents as we still had the mortgage on the condo and couldn’t afford the mortgage and rent on another place. Neither one of us was willing to let the condo go and have that on our credit. We did place the condo on the market, for sale, but had absolutely no offers. The bad part was that my husband was now working 2nd shift and I was on a normal 8-5 shift. So we didn’t really see each other during the week. Ick.
  6. August 2008 – A former co-worker of my husband’s from Ohio moved to Michigan and began renting our condo. Thus, freeing up some money for us to go and rent in Ohio.
  7. Late December 2008 – My husband was let go from his job in Ohio. We had been to Vegas for Thanksgiving to visit my sister and loved it, so my husband decided he’d like to look for a job out there. We got out of our rental agreement (a job loss is good for stuff like that) in Ohio, moved our stuff into storage and packed my husband’s car. The plan was that I would stay in Ohio (living with my in-laws since they were 15 minutes from my current job) and keep working at my job until my husband found something in Vegas.
  8. January 2009 – My husband and I traveled across the country to get him to Vegas, where he would live with my sister and her husband, to start his job search. I flew back on my own and was a bawling mess. Sigh…
  9. End of February 2009 – My husband was able to secure a position in Vegas with the same company he worked for in Ohio.
  10. Middle of March 2009 – My sister and her husband, from Vegas, would be in Ohio at this time, so I had my last day of work then. My sister drove across the country with me and my dog while her husband flew home. According to my journal (yes, this is the only way I know all these dates – I am re-reading my journal…), it had been 67 days since my husband and I had seen each other. The longest period we’ve ever gone, in our marriage, without seeing one another.
  11. July 2009 – After being in Vegas for the summer of 2009, my husband and I felt that it was not the place for us. My husband began to job search back in Ohio/Michigan. He secured a position back in Michigan with the same company he was working for, in Vegas, and we moved back – continuing to rent out our basement to the former co-worker..who then went on to move in next door to us. He and his wife became one of our very close friends! (They did move back to Ohio in 2014 and it’s sad not having our neighbors next door for almost-weekly BBQ dinners and front yard people-watching dates.)

So there you have it – all the moves. Whew! I do not enjoy moving at all, but I think it’s because all of our moves have been so far, never just a town away, lol. At least this time we’ve been stationary for 6 years…we are definitely wanting a bigger place, but we need the market to rise a little more so we can sell this condo and find a house in our price range.

We’ve also endured my husband working in Canada during the week (that’s since we moved back here in 2009, I believe he did that in 2010?) and that lasted for a few months and was very hard.

Then there’s the more “juicy” details of our marriage. Infidelity. Disrespect. Oh yeah – all that. Let’s see…

My husband was unfaithful to me, a few times, throughout our marriage. I thought I had forgiven him and gotten over it. But I held on to it, burying it deep inside, instead of dealing with the hurt immediately. Then a guy at work started paying attention to me and I didn’t realize the trap and I wasn’t focusing on Christ. I wasn’t allowing HIM to be my all. I thought my husband should be fulfilling my every need and making me happy and he wasn’t. How dare he? Our marriage was struggling and instead of turning exclusively to Christ, and finding a fellow Christian FEMALE friend, I turned to the first available ear. Which was a male co-worker who was NOT a Christian. And definitely didn’t encourage me to run to my husband and fix the marriage. Now, he didn’t start off bad-mouthing my husband either. That’s why it was not so easy to spot the wrong, right away. He was just there, willing to listen, via email, and as I wasn’t walking with the Lord as I should have been, I didn’t see the warning signs or hear the loud blaring warning bells. PLEASE listen – it’s not a giant step, normally, that takes you off the path into sin..it’s small steps here and there and suddenly, you’re in over your head. The devil is so good at placing things in your path in a way that you don’t always see it for what it is – evil. This is especially true when you’re not in close fellowship with the Lord. The devil does it in a way that you don’t see it until you’re in over your head. You’re at the bottom of the ocean and drowning before you realize it. When I suddenly realized it, I realized it HARD. I remember clearly – I went to work that morning and I ended it all. No more communication and I started looking for another job. I went to my husband and confessed my sin. He was amazing – he said he forgave me. I found another job within a few months. Three months followed where I was in awe of how sweet and loving my husband was. Always reassuring me that he loved me and had forgiven me. This was the end of 2011 and into the beginning of 2012. I began planning a surprise vacation in May of 2012 for us – it would be our first vacation alone since our honeymoon, almost 8 years prior. Then the ax fell – so to speak. I felt, through the Spirit (as I always have in the past) that my husband wasn’t being faithful. I confronted him about it. He denied it, to begin with, and then admitted to it. He told me he was upset with me for what I had done to him. He also said that he wasn’t sure he wanted to end the extramarital affair. So began a very long and hard road. He moved out temporarily and admitted that he hadn’t been wearing his wedding ring when he would leave the house. He said he didn’t want to wear it anymore at all. I begged and pleaded with him. I wanted to save the marriage. I repeatedly asked for forgiveness. He said some extremely mean and hurtful things. I remember laying in bed, listening to him saying these things, over the phone, and thinking I would never ever forget the things he was saying.

Let me pause here and say that the Lord is amazing – I do not remember the words my husband said to me. I remember the feelings. I remember being shocked that he could turn so quickly and say such harsh words to me. I remember wondering what would possess a man to say such things to his wife. I thought, for sure, that those words would never leave my mind. But I didn’t realize, until I was writing this, that the Lord has wiped those words from my mind. I don’t want to ever remember them and I don’t need to. The words my husband spoke may have been what he FELT were true at the time, but they aren’t words that will do anything to protect and grow our marriage now or in the future. He wasn’t walking with the Lord at the time and so what he was saying weren’t edifying and uplifting. They were words of a man who was hurt and lashing out. I’m so very thankful that the Lord has removed those words from my mind.

His other relationship did end, but he said he wasn’t sure he wanted our marriage to continue. He flew to see his sister in DC. I was a basket case. There were some very mean and spiteful things said to me again. I took them all personal and felt there was no hope. I lost 20 lbs in 4 weeks (no – I didn’t need to lose that much). I felt like a failure as a wife. I feared that we would never have children (he said as much to me) and that’s what I wanted – to have children with this man I loved. I wondered why he was so angry with me when he’d done this very thing so many times to me? Then I knew that comparison was not what I am to do. I cried out to Jesus. Oh, how I cried out! I saturated my daily life with the Word and with the Lord. While at home, Praise and Worship music was on constantly. While driving to and from work, Praise and Worship. While at work? You guessed it – either Praise and Worship or I listed to the Bible being read through my headphones. I refused to give the devil any more space in my life. My husband did move home, but kept his distance. We were like roommates. I left him sweet notes in his truck at work, reminding him of special memories throughout our marriage. We would email throughout the day (mostly one-sided, me) and I would include memories of fun and/or romantic moments we’d had at the bottom of the emails. At times he would let me know these irritated him. I continued on. A very close friend of mine and her husband spoke with me, via phone, and encouraged me. Told me to just love him. Love him like Christ loves us – don’t give up. Continue loving, no matter how mean he is. Don’t retaliate. Be Jesus to him. I did that. I failed at times, I gave in to the flesh. But the Spirit would whisper “love him, love him, love him”, and I would do it. I knew that I didn’t want to divorce this man with whom we’d built so many memories. I knew that the Lord had brought us together for a reason and that reason was not a failed marriage. I knew I wanted children with this man.

I had moments where I didn’t want to be here on Earth anymore. I felt there was nothing here for me anymore. I would be driving and I would say “Lord, you could let a tree fall on my car right now, and take me home with You! No one else would be injured and I would be free from this earthly hurt. I would be home with You and able to just feel Your arms around me.” I didn’t want this – this pain anymore.

Another memory I have during this time – I was home, one Saturday, alone and so exhausted from fighting for the marriage and praying so hard. I was just physically and emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I wanted to nap. But yet, I couldn’t sleep. For some reason, my mind told me to take some ibuprofen – that should help my brain shut off and help me sleep. So I took 20. Yes, 20 ibuprofen. I am not in any medical field at all, but I’m pretty sure that’s not good. Do you know what happened? Not a thing. Not even a slight stomach-ache. Not even a “bathroom issue”. I also didn’t fall asleep. I stayed awake and kept on chugging along. Why do I think nothing happened? Because of the Lord – because He had His hand on me. He saw my stupidity (that’s the only thing that can explain it..that’s how exhausted I was – 20 ibuprofen???? What was I thinking? I honestly didn’t think it would do anything but help me sleep. Why didn’t I go buy a sleeping aid from the store that is less than a mile away??) and covered me. He saw my future and, as always, covered my sin and stupidity with His blood and said “I’ll take this and I’ll carry you until you can stand”.

I remember, vividly, one weekday – I was folding laundry and listening to Praise and Worship. I fell to my knees and cried out – telling the Lord that I just couldn’t take it. It was taking every fiber of my being just to breathe. To just make it minute to minute. That moment sticks out to me. I don’t know how long I stayed like that, with a half-folded towel in my hands, kneeling with my face on the living room floor. But I wept and gave it all to the Lord. I told him to take my husband and what seemed to be a hopeless situation. I knew the Lord knew the desire of my heart. I also knew the Lord can work miracles.

I began to go to christian counseling and it was absolutely freeing. I think I’d go to counseling weekly, if it were free. To be able to sit there, get things off your chest, and have someone (a neutral party) give strong, Godly advice? The best part is that they have no vested interest in your personal life, so you know for sure that they aren’t trying to appease you. It really, really helped me so much! I went, thinking she would fix my marriage, but instead, she helped me grow as an individual! My husband did attend, twice, with me and he wasn’t a fan. LOL..I’m not sure many men are fans of “airing” their dirty laundry to other people. But he was a trooper and went with me. He also went and spoke privately with a pastor at church a few times and that helped him quite a bit.

My husband’s heart slowly began to soften towards me. We went on the vacation in May 2012 and it worked wonders for us. To have that time alone really brought us so much closer. We came home and all the old issues were there, but we were more connected, because of the week we spent without outside distractions. I struggled with trust and he struggled with frustration because of my mis-trust. But we agreed that we would give each other the time needed to heal and would focus on the Lord and healing our marriage together. That summer we worked hard on making our marriage a priority, along with working on our relationships (individually and as a couple) with the Lord. We made church a huge priority as well, and that helped, tremendously, for us.

In October 2012, while we were sitting on our living room couch (and I was eating a bowl of Cheerios – I remember this moment so vividly), my husband looked at me and said “maybe we should think about trying to have a baby. I think we’re ready”. I remember almost choking on the Cheerios, looking at him and saying “please don’t joke with me about this. You know how much I want a baby”. He said he was serious and I clearly remember being so excited that I didn’t finish my Cheerios. We didn’t tell anyone we were trying because we didn’t want that pressure (“Are you pregnant yet?”), but we were pregnant a mere two months later. So within a year of my husband telling me he wasn’t even sure he wanted to stay married to me, let alone have children with me, HE was the one saying we should try for a baby.

So if someone asks me if my faith has been tested or why I think the Lord is real? I have an answer. My marriage has seen the hardest of times and the best of times. Through it all – the Lord has been so very faithful. He didn’t have to be. He could have wiped His hands of my husband and I. We aren’t the easiest of His children, for sure. We screw up, a lot. But the Lord is right there, arms wide open, saying “Ah, well, let’s see how we can fix this situation for the good”.

Romans 8:28

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

The Lord took what could have been a disgusting, sad and terrible sin and turned it into something that we can use for our future. I’m able to use this when speaking with other women who have experienced or are experiencing this in their own lives. Do I wish it wouldn’t have happened? Absolutely! I wish he had always been faithful to me. I wish I had never been unfaithful to my husband. I’m ashamed that I made such a horrible mistake. But, because we’ve been through this – my faith is so much stronger. I went to the very bottom of the miry pit. I had absolutely nothing left, but the Lord. I was shown exactly what I need in life and that is the Lord, and He alone. He is the only reason I’m here today. Were it not for His peace and His presence during that time? I know I wouldn’t be here.

My husband and I don’t have a perfect marriage, even now. We argue, and we bicker like little children at times. But we’ve come through the fire. A disgusting, bitter and nasty fire. It could have consumed and destroyed us. But the Lord sustained us. He lifted us up by His grace and covered us. He changed our hearts and continues to do so daily. I love my husband. He’s a blessing to me and our son. He’s an amazing provider and a loving husband and daddy. He puts the Lord first and his family right there in second place. He leads us, and does so in such an amazing way.  I’m so happy we chose to fight for our marriage and to place God first, instead of ourselves. We know that divorce is not an option. We know that our marriage is worth saving, at all times. We know that the Lord has mighty plans for us. We also know how important it is to protect ourselves and our marriage at all times. We’ve seen what being lackadaisical in boundaries with the opposite sex can lead to.

It’s a slow fade (Casting Crowns – Slow Fade: Amazing Song and so true), so be careful with your eyes, your ears, hands and feet. And guard your heart. Protect your marriage.

A Christian marriage is no more safe than a non-Christian marriage. I used to be self-righteous and say “I would NEVER cheat on my husband. How can anyone do that?” Ouch….cheating, emotionally, physically, even in your thought life or with your eyes – I’m here to say it harms your marriage. You may think it doesn’t, but it eventually catches up. So be careful. Overly cautious. My husband and I don’t go to meals with the opposite sex alone, we don’t text with the opposite sex (unless it’s family, that’s different:)), we don’t have phone calls with the opposite sex. We are vigilant with drawing boundaries with the opposite sex. Why? Because our marriage is important and sacred.

 

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If you’re in the midst of it right now? Guess what? There’s a way out. There’s always a way out. I’m here because I simply cried out to Jesus. I didn’t know how to fix the situation, I didn’t know what would happen. I just said “Lord, take this. Take it and make it reflect Your glory.” It didn’t happen overnight..it took a long time. It took many nights of crying, many days of crying. Ok, months of crying. But He did it. Like He always does – when we step aside and we allow Him to lead? He makes something beautiful out of something disgusting.

I’m so passionate about my faith. Am I as vocal as I should be? Probably not.  No, I’m not. I need to be more vocal. Jesus has brought me through so much and I’m standing here today, with an 11 year strong marriage (and an almost 2 year old son) because of Jesus Christ and Him alone. My husband and I are living proof of God. Not a god. THE GOD.

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

Thomas Chisholm – 1925
Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Though changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for Sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

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If you’d like to contact me about this post without a public comment – please fill out the below contact form or email me at mandyb@theamishsideofme.com. I’d love to hear from you!

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