The first time I met David I knew that he was the one I would some day marry. I was 14 years at the time and he was a year older. We had just moved to a different community and our new home was across the road from David’s family farm. I rushed home to tell my sister, "I’ve just met the person I will marry. I’m telling you this so when we stand at my wedding we’ll look back and remember.
By my junior year we were high school sweethearts. A year after I graduated and on a beautiful September evening, in the presence of some 400 loved ones, I did indeed marry the boy next door. And yes, my sister and I giggled together about the day David and I met.
We bought a new home and moved in right after our wedding. We both had good jobs but when we started our family I quit my job to stay home. My career would have to wait. By our 5th anniversary, we had three beautiful sons. My pregnancies were anything but typical however. Philip was born six weeks early and weighed 4 lbs. I went into pre-term labor at 30 weeks with our second son, Daniel. I was in bed for two months and three months with out third son, Benjamin. The strain of all this convinced David and members of our family that I should have a tubal ligation. The doctor added that I might not survive another pregnancy. With a heavy heart I agreed to the tubal. I woke from the surgery in tears at the thought of no more babies to hold or nurse. Something was missing.
In 1987 we moved 40 miles away to a new community and a beautiful Victorian house. David commuted to work and I renovated our home. It looked as though we had it made. With three boys in school I became very restless and thought, "There has to be more to life than this. Anyone can be a mom and keep house. I need a career of my own." My friends encouraged me to make something of my life. I got a job that allowed me the same schedule as our boys but although I enjoyed tutoring students with special needs there was still something missing.
As we sat around our large table in the evenings, I’d look at the faces of my family with joy. But there was sadness too. There were empty places at our table that needed to be filled. The Lord began speaking to my heart over several months and I thought of having my tubal reversed. David’s immediate response was "No!" but God changed his heart too. In July of 1989 I checked into the hospital with great joy and a greater hope.
In January 1990 I wept for joy when I received the news that I was pregnant. I was still working but that would be no problem – we could find a daycare provider. I could have it all! Our joy soon turned to great concern. I was in and out of hospital several times. I could keep nothing down, throwing up as many as 25 times daily. Intravenous fluids nourished us both for several weeks. My blood pressure dropped to dangerous levels and I was placed on heart medication. I was three months pregnant when the contractions started and I was placed on complete bed rest. As one month stretched into another, my house, my family and my marriage all began to unravel. A close friend came to help with the house and the children. It was the start of a friendship between her and my husband that eventually became a long-term affair.
God gave me a deep love for my unborn child and a determination to get through one day at a time. Three weeks before my due date I was stricken with a severe headache and pain in my left eye. My eyeball extended an inch from its normal position. My eye was red with blood, black underneath and had crossed so I saw double. I was diagnosed with a rare eye disease, a pseudotumor that was treatable with high doses of prednisone. The doctor requested labor be induced immediately as the baby had to be delivered before treatment could start.
I joyfully welcomed Stephen into my arms eight hours after induction began. What should have been one of life’s most precious moments was overshadowed with treatment that lasted three months before my vision returned and what was unfolding in my husband’s life. Something was indeed missing.
Because I could not see well, read, or watch TV, Stephen and I spent most of our hours together, just rocking, nursing and sleeping. It took months to recuperate physically and get back on my feet. I returned to my job and Stephen went to daycare. I hated it. After four long months I resigned to be home with my little "miracle". I had waited almost 10 years for him. The Lord changed my heart - motherhood would be my career. He led me home and I willingly followed, knowing this was where I was meant to be successful.
My marriage on the other hand was a different story. I had suspected David’s affair for quite some time but had no proof. Our relationship headed for the bottom fast just as I realized that I was pregnant again. I cried for months thinking God had surely made a mistake. Didn’t He know that this would be the final straw to end our marriage? How could it possibly last if I ended up on bed rest again? For about two minutes I contemplated terminating the pregnancy to make our situation less stressful. I abandoned the idea, asked for forgiveness and decided to fully trust the Lord again.
This pregnancy required seven and a half months on bed-rest. Timothy was born in May 1992. He has been the apple of our eyes and a very best friend to Stephen. The two have been inseparable. For two more years our marriage floundered. We wasted time and several thousands of dollars on counseling only to be told that divorce was our only option.
In March 1994 I filed for divorce. My husband and our friend had betrayed me. The hurt was too great. David moved out and we were separated for eight months. My friends prayed that God would bring David back to his marriage and his family. When it finally happened, I had already lost hope.
David stopped in, unscheduled, to see our boys in January 1995 before leaving on a business trip. The two little ones were ill with chicken pox. He was hit with the realization that he would no longer always be there for them and he broke down. We talked for a long time and he confessed his affair. He asked if there was anything that we could do to try again. He wanted his family back. Hearing my suspicions verbalized caused me to fall apart. I was more determined than ever to end the marriage as quickly as possible. The hurt was too great. My pride was too strong. We were given a final court date in March 1995. I couldn’t wait to be finished with that chapter of my life. Surely God had other plans for me, a happier marriage perhaps.
This was indeed God’s plan. On Valentine’s Day I received a brochure in the mail for an upcoming Family Life Marriage Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The registration and accommodation had been paid for – all I had to do was go! With David! I battled with the Lord for several weeks. "How can you ask me to put my marriage back together after what has happened? I cried. "Don’t you know how much he’s hurt me? How could I ever trust him again? I feel nothing for him. How could I ever love him again? Don’t I deserve something better?" I didn’t want to even consider it. Timothy was fighting me one night as I put him to bed. He stomped his little two-year-old foot and said, "I don’t want to!" My heart was pierced. Wasn’t that act of defiance to a parent exactly what I was doing to the Lord? I was convicted.
I started searching the scripture again and when I asked Him "Why?" He answered from Malachi 2:16, "For I hate divorce says the Lord." When I asked Him "How?" He answered from Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a future and a hope." When I asked Him what He wanted me to do, He answered from John 14:15, "If you love Me, you will obey my commands." "Oh Lord, Not my will, but Yours be done," I cried. Luke 22:42.
David and I attended the conference as a separated couple within three weeks of signing the final divorce papers. We discovered what had been missing from our marriage all along. We had never allowed Jesus Christ to be the center of our marriage. We had been living life according to our plan. We discovered that our spouse is not our enemy. Satan is, and he will use our spouse, our children, and even ourselves in any way he can to try and destroy God’s plan for us. We discovered ways to begin the healing process and for forgiveness to take place. We left the conference together, committed to rebuilding our marriage family.
We needed a support team to keep us going so we started a HomeBuilders Bible Study Group with five other couples. Through that study we gained the knowledge of God’s blueprints for marriage and family. The following year we returned to the conference with those couples and the next year with 25 couples.
The Lord brought us through some deep waters, so deep sometimes that it was over our heads. But He never left us. He was right there with us all the time and He brought us to dry land. We not only have a much closer marriage but also a much closer relationship with the Lord.
St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, USA