Every marriage suffers through seasons of “for worse” instead of the “for better” you dreamed of on your wedding day. Personalities clash. Promises are broken. Affection grows cold. Goals and life’s demands compete for your devotion to one another. You reach your breaking point, wondering, Does my spouse really love me? Will they ever change? Is there any hope for tomorrow? Your marriage feels buried under the rubble of hurt and disappointment. When you’ve run out of strength to carry on in your relationship, you need a word of hope. You and I need to see other couples who fell hard but got back on their feet. We need living, walking proof that God rescued a marriage and can do the same again.
Today we welcome Sarah Slanzi as she shares her personal story of how God rescued her husband and marriage. Our prayer is that you find fresh hope that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) We hope your faith in the power of prayer is restored. And, we pray you’ll invite others to walk beside you on the journey of your life together. May God bless you as you place your marriage in his hands.
Your hand is on the door. You’re ready to call to it quits.
The tear stains on your pillow are the unspoken evidence of sleepless nights as your heart stung with the loss of what you had hoped your marriage would be. You felt sad, then angry, then sad again, and now you are just numb.
Trying to look ahead to life without your husband, on one hand you feel relief that it’s almost over and you can forge ahead with a new life. On the other hand, you heart grieves with every beat the loss of the man you thought would hold your heart forever. Now, he is no longer there to even offer a sympathetic hug in the most anguishing trial you have ever had to face.
If you’re really being honest with yourself, in the quiet of your heart and beyond the built-up resentment there is a restlessness. You are trying to not pay attention to it because the newfound numbness feels better. Even still, it is there.
Let me tell you our story before you file for divorce…
It was the year 2013 when God worked a miracle and salvaged the unsalvageable. We had been married for nine years, and our marriage looked nothing like what I had imagined. My husband was having an affair, but not with another woman. Rather, his affair was with a little bottle of pills. My husband was a drug addict.
At first I looked the other way. We were young and in love, and it didn’t seem to be too big of a concern in the eyes of a newlywed. After all, he was in pain, and I didn’t want to see him suffer. But soon came kids, one and then two. My husband could no longer hold down a job as his addiction was taking over. Soon the pressure of work landed on me. I was working, raising kids, maintaining a household, and taking care of an often mentally-absent husband. I was abundantly more lonely than I had ever felt before.
After years of working at that speed while watching my husband check out of reality, my heart began to callous. Worn out and worked to the bone, I started taking taking heart medication as I was not handling the stress well. I blamed him for my failing health.
This was not a man worth loving.
This was not a man I wanted to grow old with.
My husband was not the man for me.
We argued. I yelled…a lot. In my heart I grew angry, bitter, and fed up. I stopped internalizing my emotions and started letting everything out at the expense of my husband’s feelings. I didn’t care. He was hurting me, so I was giving it all I could to throw hurt and pain back on him. I hated who I was becoming. I blamed him for that too.
I worked hard to keep our world a secret from others.
I smiled sweetly at church while sitting next to a man whose very presence made me cringe in quiet rage. Often during the service I sat and looked around at other couples. I saw an arm wrapped around the shoulders of another. A hand placed on the other’s knee. Both spouses helping with young children at foot. I could only dream of a world like that. Mine was far too dark and oppressive to even dare reveal, so I played an adult version of make-believe and pretended we were madly in love.
“Why did I even stay?” you might be wondering. The answer, though simple, perplexed me a great deal. Whenever I would cry out to God, I never felt released to leave. I hated that most of all. I wanted to honour my Lord, but did He not see my pain and exhaustion?
One weary night I cried out my final prayer to God:
“This is all I can take! No more! Save me! Am I not worth more to you than this?! Why won’t you give me peace to leave?” I trembled and sobbed uncontrollably. It was just too much. That was the night that I pleaded with God to either let my husband die from overdose, or let me just not wake up.
I had been sleeping in my daughter’s room for about two years at that point. The following morning my husband came stumbling into the bedroom before I had even woken up. He let out a loud wail and collapsed on the floor. The dramatic awakening reminded me that God had not answered my plea. Both of us had woken up. I felt trapped.
I was at the end of my ability to cope, and for the first time, I reached out for help.
My in-laws came and collected my husband and brought him home to their house. I reached out to a few good friends, including a couple who had experienced this in their own life. To my surprise, my plea for help was not met with judgement, but a real and sincere desire to help. I realized for the first time that this was what love was. It is not the beautiful nor the uncomplicated, but rather, the actions one takes in the trenches to come together and wage war against the impossible.
We fasted and prayed together before meeting once again with my husband to offer him an ultimatum: Get out, or get help.
For the first time, I released my white-knuckled grip on our marriage and left it in the hands of God. It was freeing and terrifying all at once. Everything was on the line. I feared he may take our kids and leave me with nothing. But even more, I was afraid he would never change. I feared we were too broken to fix. It seemed too much to hope for that God could rescue my husband or my marriage.
After much anger and name-calling to me, my husband left for rehab. But, the drama only continued. Every day brought phone calls from him from the rehab center, and each time I picked up came badgering words. He was 500 kilometres away but there was still no rest.
One day I was laying on the couch, too exhausted to move, when the phone rang. It was him. I didn’t want to pick up, but something in me caused me to reach for the phone before I knew what I was doing.
“Hello, Beautiful,” he said to me.
Was he high? Who had snuck drugs to this man in a locked-up facility?!
We had been praying for him in our prayer group the night before, and even that morning. He knew about these prayers, but had simply told me to, “Shove it.” It was made clear that he wanted nothing to do with God, and he didn’t think prayer was of any use. He told me regularly that praying for him would be a waste of time. Nevertheless, we prayed.
What he told me next was nothing short of a miracle. He told me he was sitting there that morning when God’s Spirit of peace and joy washed over him. In his heart he felt new, like he had never felt before. In that moment–and from that moment on–he was washed clean from the desire to do drugs. He was filled with God’s presence in a tangible way. Tears rolled down my face and I knew that God had answered all our poured-out prayers to rescue our marriage. He returned on Christmas Eve, a most beautiful Christmas miracle.
Don’t get me wrong, it was not an instant happily-ever-after story.
It has taken work to rebuild trust. He has had to live openly and honestly with me when I ask him questions about his health. And I have had to relearn how to put the filter back on my thoughts. He is not the man he used to be, and I cannot treat him like it. It has taken tremendous effort on both our parts to come together again, but it has come with sweetness and joy as we pursue the marriage we originally hoped for. Truly this victory is God’s!
Oh, sweet reader, it is not too late for God to rescue your marriage.
God holds the power to rescue your marriage today. Your grip is just too suffocatingly tight. Instead, place your marriage in the stable, steady hand of God and then grip His mighty hand as He works in ways you cannot see today. He sees your tears. He knows your pain. God is faithful to those who call him Father. It may just turn out that you were never broken after all, you were just misshapen.
Sarah Slanzi is the founder of Like Grandma Did, an inspiring magazine and corner of the internet that encourages us to bring the beauty of the past into our present lives as women. Whether it’s a tried-and-true tip or recipe, a word of parenting or marriage wisdom, or a heartfelt call to trust in God, Like Grandma Did will refresh your heart and your home.
Sarah lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband of 16 years, their three homeschooled children, a dog, and one bird. She loves adventuring in the mountains with her family, drinking herbal tea, and crafting words to encourage her readers to turn their eyes Heavenward towards the grace and strength of an Everlasting Father.
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