I remember what I thought marriage would be like.  I knew I did not want it to be like the marriage my mother had with my step-dad.  Their marriage like our home, was a battleground.  Violence was the norm along with frustration and an overwhelming sense of anxiety.

I carried on in the downward spiral of this environment to my first bottoming out experiences, when I was 24.  By that time I was married, had a daughter, graduated from college and still lived and felt like I was going to hell.  I was six feet away from walking in front of a tractor-trailer on US A1A in the Florida Keys.  Instead I cried out to a God I had tried not to believe in, that I was done fighting Him, I quit rebelling.

An immediate peace came over me and lifted me up.  I continued to get higher and higher, pure euphoria, the illusive state that drug users seek.  I had previous spiritual awakenings that were short-lived.  As soon as I got back to my old gang, the old life was close behind.  This time I kept on this upward surge and was so high on what Jesus did for me that I wanted to share this wonderful gift with everyone back home.

ALL my family and friends were blown away.  My then wife wanted to leave me.  She was in California with my daughter and her folks, and after talking to me and our friends, determined that I went totally nuts and she didn’t want anything to do with me, or it.  I told her that if she wanted the old Stan back, then she should leave.  I knew if I continued to live the way I was I would be dead and I felt alive for the first time in my life.

She stayed around for 13 more years.  I decided 2 years before the end of my first marriage, that I wanted to go back to using drugs and alcohol.  Now I was nuts!  All the good we built up, the growth of our family, two more children, the spiritual growth, new friends, respectability, and financial success was wiped out in that short period of time.  My wife could not, would not compete with my live-in mistress, alcohol and my insanity.

She divorced me.  I hit my second all-time bottom and crawled to recovery.  No miraculous interventions, no grand deliverance this time around, just raw, excruciating pain and years of slow recovery while feeling like an outcast from the church.  Two years into my recovery I met my current wife.

I couldn’t for the longest time recognize my deliverance in such a confusing relationship.  I was too slow to grasp that my preconceived notions of what my next wife would be like were way off.   She is younger than me, she’s smarter than me, she had 3 children, she is an extrovert and has way more energy than me.  I let stupid jealousies plague my thinking and was not as gracious with her past as she was with mine.  I believe now, God put us together for healing and to bless us with the goodness of His mercy and love.

I am not lost to the irony that my first marriage ended due to craziness from “wet” drinking and now my second marriage may be over, due to the craziness of the “dry” drunk.  Crazy thinking is crazy thinking, doesn’t matter how it comes around.  Enter bottom number three, (I have grieved the loss of loved ones, but these bottoms are worse because they are self-inflicted).

I did not protect my own thinking, my spirituality, my physical and mental health.  Do you think I protected my wife, our marriage, of course not.  This chapter in the Love Dare book talks about the things we need to protect our marriage from, and is a start.  If you have addictions, get into a program.  If you don’t know how harmful some relationships are to your marriage, get your pastors or counselors perspective.  Too often we want to hang on to harmful influences because they make us feel good or flatter our egos.

Be proactive, guard against “stinking thinking”, take care of your total self, and then take care of your spouse.  Protect the gift God has given you and enjoy a marriage as it should be.