Response to Former Wife 1 Year Later

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It has been 1 year today since I started this blog. I sorely wanted my marriage to be renewed, saved from divorce. That did not happen despite pouring incredible energy and prayer in the effort. My former wife asked me 2 days ago what my purpose in life is and what I am able to be passionate about. What follows is my reply to which she said, “good luck with that”.

My primary purpose is to be a faithful believer, God demands that He be first in my life and I gladly give Him first place. I am also to be a good father, grandfather and God willing the best husband a woman could have.

I am most passionate about my relationship with God through Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am passionate about recovery, redemption, grace, mercy, love, forgiveness and the ministry of reconciliation. I am very passionate about marriage, which is a strange thing being single and all.

How does this flesh itself out? I have accepted God’s grace and understand it like never before. Because I know I have right-standing in God’s eyes through the blood of Christ, I feel whole and am no longer negative or pessimistic about life. I share my discovery and faith in meetings, with family and friends with openness and humility, this helps me and others recover what was lost.

I encourage others in their search for recovery and their sobriety. I encourage others not to take their marriages for granted and not to speak negatively about their marriage or spouse. I encourage others to forgive and accept forgiveness, to not hold records of wrong doing. Anything becomes “too much” if we hang onto and accumulate stuff, slights, or out and out abuse. I speak out against suicide and encourage suicidal people to embrace life, the good and the bad.

I am passionate about my own recovery and about learning the truth about myself. I am no longer suicidal. I have been harassed by suicidal thoughts and been close to succumbing to it but have been saved from it. I reject it as an alternative. I am not a divorcing spouse. I was immature and damaging in my expressions of divorce, but like suicidal talk and thoughts, I reject it and will never do either. People need to separate from harmful situations but not kill themselves or their marriages.

I am passionate about sharing my life with those who want me to be part of their lives. I am extremely blessed to have children, children from other fathers, grandchildren and family who love me. I have participated in more family events and have rekindled friendships and made many new friends. I share my faith openly and for the most part am accepted, respected and not ridiculed for my beliefs. I have learned more of the mercy and love of God and am able to offer that to others.

I purpose not to make decisions as I have in the past…alone. I have totally revamped the way I make decisions, much prayer and counsel goes into it. What God instructs me to do, I pray for His strength and ability to perform it and He is faithful and able to do this.

I desire a soul-mate to share my life with, I love marriage and all the blessings that come with it. I am wanting, willing and with God’s help able to have the kind of marriage God intends His children to have. I am open to new adventures, to travel, to making a home together, to making a house a home. I am blessed to be in a position and with the attitude of complimenting another persons’ life without having competing goals. I am passionate about not being tied down to possessions. I value family, friends and real connection.

What I want most of all is to be of service to God, to share the Good News, to be a pleasing and faithful servant. If I am blessed with a woman who shares the love of God and He sees fit to bless me in this fashion, great, if not, I am fine being single and sanctified to His service.

Bottom line for me, I must continue all day, day in, day out, to be committed to spiritual attention and growth. All the other acquisitions and adventures are secondary and will not happen without the first priorities in place.

Divorce, a Terrible Thing

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For those of you that have followed this journey through daring to love, the seemingly inevitable happened, Beth’s divorce of me was finalized on June 20th, 2011. I maintain that God’s Will was not done in this situation. That being said, God’s Will was not being done in my conduct towards my wife all the years we were married.

I see the failure in our marriage as a spiritual failing. I was to be the Spiritual Leader in our family and I never developed as that leader. I believe it takes 2 plus God to make a marriage great. A man of God fulfilling his responsibilities to his wife and children would more than likely result in encouraging the wife to live a God designed life also. Pure speculation on my part but I did see glimpses of this dynamic in my marriage.

God forgives and forgets, not so with we mere mortals. I did not know how to cope with the dynamo my wife was and certainly needed spiritual help to live successfully with her. My way of getting along was to go along and 9 times out of 10 this was not a problem. When I did not want to go along, I was pressured so strongly that I did 1 of 3 things, all with anger. I either refused to comply and faced her anger, complied, or left. The leaving was stupid and childish not to mention painful. Each leaving was with the intention of not coming back, then the pain came and I returned on my knees with promises that would be broken over and over again.

My wife was wonderful. Through her wounding she accepted me back dozens of times, only to be heart broken again and again. She forgave me much, so I love her much, ultimately she did not cancel my account of wrongs and states she had 16 years of walking heartbreak. I also held her to account for things that I had no right to hold her to account for. God is the Judge and God forgave us our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus, PERIOD.

The key I believe of a successful life, marriage and relationships is to accept God’s plan for forgiveness, for ourselves and forgive others as we have been forgiven and to turn our wills and life over to Him. There were so many missed opportunities in my marriage to step up to the plate, that if I had a double, I’d give myself a good butt kicking. Was Beth responsible for her conduct in the marriage, of course, but that was God’s job to correct not mine.

The Bible describes marriage as becoming one flesh. In divorce and in all the times I left, there is a tearing of that one flesh and it is excruciatingly painful! Do I blame my wife for wanting to bring this pain to an end? No. Do I wish she would have chosen the path of forgiveness, true forgiveness and trust God to fulfill His promises? I desired that and prayed for that more than you’ll ever know.

So now I’m attending Divorce Care, a Bible based course and support group. It promises healing through the only One who can heal, Jesus.

Day 13 Love fights fair II

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“Like it or not, conflict in marriage is simply inevitable. When you tied the knot as bride and groom, you joined not only your hopes and dreams but also your hurts, fears, imperfections, and emotional baggage. From the moment you unpacked from your honeymoon, you began the real process of unpacking one another, unpleasantly discovering how sinful and selfish each of you could be.” The Love Dare.

If you have been following my blog, you will notice that I have written about this day in the Love Dare before. I am in an entirely different place emotionally than I was then and that is an encouragement to me. I am faced with the finalization of my wife’s divorce of me, 27 more days. I ask myself why I am writing this blog since I am the only one in my relationship who desires a positive change. I still need the lessons of the Love Dare. The mental fog of emotional pain has lifted to a large extent and this writing is helping me process what went wrong.

I am still waiting to hear from anyone who is applying these principles in their marriage and how that is going. I have learned a lot about myself and am starting to understand a little more about the dynamic of my marriage. The dismay I feel at this time is based on my wife’s determination to end this marriage, her beliefs have undergone a radical shift in the opposite direction. My beliefs have been strengthened in God and I fully believe that a married couple can thrive if they apply the principles in this book.

Please prayerfully read Galations 5, especially when the talk is about the liberty we have in Christ. Many Christians today are exercising their liberty in Christ, but it is in fulfilling the desires of the flesh. We are to live in the Spirit and develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The fruits of the Spirit do not lead us to divorce, but the flesh and our own desires do.

Rules of Engagement as suggested in “The Love Dare”

1. We will never mention divorce.
2. We will not bring up old, unrelated items from the past.
3. We will never fight in public or in front of our children.
4. We will call a time out if conflict escalates to a damaging level.
5. We will never touch one another in a harmful way.
6. We will never go to bed angry with one another.
7. Failure is not an option. Whatever it takes, we will work this out.

Pray for God to grow the fruits of the Spirit, Galations 5:22, in you, exercise them in all your dealings with others, especially your spouse.

Day 10 Love is unconditional II

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God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.8

When I read this verse today, it was if I had read it for the first time, perhaps it is the first time I meditated on the first 5 words. God demonstrating His love, while we cursed Him, ignored him, sinned against Him and denied Him, Christ died for us. Without Jesus, we are at enmity with God, separated from His love; we have no fellowship with Him.

This is somewhat the position I find myself in with my wife. We have no fellowship, we are not at peace with each other, and we are headed for divorce. This separation has been good for me. I think separation is necessary for couples when their problems require professional help. I am absolutely convinced that divorce in a Christian marriage is against God’s Will however.

Think about it, while we were sinners, enemies of God, He laid His life down for us, the supreme sacrifice. Jesus was beaten, spit upon, had His scalp lacerated with a thorny crown, scourged with a cat-of-nine tails, 40 lashes times 9 steel balled ends tearing the flesh off of Him, then nailed to a cross! Who amongst us can claim that extreme abuse? Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”! Abuse, whether verbal or physical is wrong and must stop and that is where separation until professional help comes to play. We are to forgive, God does not divorce us, and He forgives us.

When you are separated for an extended period of time from your spouse, in my case approaching one year with a short reprieve, you learn what your love is made of. “Phileo”, friendship love is gone as is “eros”, sexual love. If you have forgiven your wife for the wrongs she has done, asked forgiveness for the wrongs you have done against God and your wife, what remains? Good memories? Hopefully. If the love you feel grows during the separation and you get past the hurt, you realize this love is from God and it is unconditional.

“The Scriptures say that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8. 38-39) This is God’s kind of love. And thankfully—by your choice—it can become your kind of love. But first you must receive it and share it.” From “The Love Dare”.

Until yesterday I would say, unless God intervenes, my marriage will be over in “x” number of days. I was corrected, God has intervened, He has given us forgiveness of sins and all the accompanying promises of salvation and that was before we accepted it. In like manner He is intervening in my marriage, my heart has undergone a course correction, He has spoken to my wife through our Pastor, at the bare minimum and has provided her with the same Spirit of truth that all believers have. If my wife chooses to ignore God’s Will and obtains her divorce that is her choice, not God’s Will. If God’s Will was being done on the Earth, Jesus would not have taught us to pray, “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”.

Day 8 Love is not jealous II

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Love is as strong as death, its’ jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire. Song of Solomon 8.6 NIV

“Jealousy is one of the strongest drives known to man. It comes from the root word for zeal and means ‘to burn with intense fire’. The Scripture pointedly says, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27.4”

The authors of The Love Dare state there are two forms of jealousy; a legitimate jealousy based upon love and an illegitimate jealousy based upon envy. The “legitimate” jealousy occurs when someone you love, or who “belongs to you” turns their heart away from you and gives their heart to someone else. The authors do not go into depth in this area and an inclusion of “emotional adultery” might be in order.

With the advent and popularity of texting and Facebook, an increasing level of “false intimacy” is on the rise. Divorce proceedings are using emails and conversations lifted from Facebook and other electronic devices to prove infidelity. This area is complex and it is my opinion that relational difficulties are being left unaddressed, fueling the rise in online adultery. Some people have an insatiable desire to seek and acquire approval from the opposite sex. These issues often stem from childhood and plague adult relationships with the arousal of jealousy.

If we are to have committed and faithful relationships we need to be mature, in our beliefs, our understanding of our nature and the import of desiring only our spouse. I do not know the statistics on broken marriages that are able to get beyond infidelity, but I would venture to say it is rare.

All through the Old Testament we see the story of God’s chosen people turning away from Him and seeking foreign idols, other gods. They are called infidels and called out for their “whoring” after other gods. Yet, God time and again forgives them when they cry out to Him after discovering the dead ends of following false gods. In the meantime many lose their lives due to their adulterous behavior towards God. God is a jealous God and wants us to be faithful to Him.

From the very first sin, we chose to go our own way and ignore God, we see a diminished state for all mankind in the case of Original Sin and a thwarted glory for the man or woman of God who went astray and then returned.

God forgives all our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus. Most of the time we do not accept this provision for ourselves and hold onto resentments, which are just unforgiven sins someone has committed against us. Jesus died for our past, present and future sins. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Yesterday I recommended a thorough listing of the wrongs or sins your spouse has committed against you. I urge you to go down this list item by item and forgive your spouse all their wrongs and failings towards you. New opportunities will arise on a daily basis for you to forgive your spouse, so let go of the past ones, put all their sins with yours, under the Blood of Christ.

We all have been forgiven by Grace, Mercy and the Love of God; we are to give away what we have been given. Forgiving your spouse or another sins, frees us up to love them, it does not justify or give them God’s forgiveness. We can only seek and accept our own forgiveness from God; our spouse must the same.

Quotes from “The Love Dare”

Day 7 Love believes the best II

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This is one of my favorite chapters in The Love Dare; it is also one of the dares that can be done even if you are separated from your spouse.

This lesson describes two different “rooms” one has in their heart. One room is the “Appreciation Room”, and on the walls of this room is written all the things we find most pleasing in our spouse. I agree with the authors, the more time we spend thinking on these positive things, the more gratitude we have towards our spouse. Most of the things written on these walls were discovered early in our relationship and we tend to not spend as much time there because of another room nearby.

This room that we find ourselves in too often is the “Depreciation” room. All the things that irritate us and things that we think due to frustration, hurt feelings and the disappointment of unmet expectations are plastered on these walls. I am one of the people the authors refer to as having written many hateful things on these walls. As they say, this is the place where people fall out of love. “Spending time in the Depreciation Room kills marriages. Divorces are plotted in this room…”

We are all flawed human beings and being married makes us more and more aware of just how flawed we are. What we have forgiven of ourselves for past wrongs, we tend to hold on to and be less gracious to our spouses. The things written on the wall of the depreciation room may be true, but we are not to concentrate on these things. This is where it gets hard, where our feelings are to be protected, but sometimes this comes at the cost of our relationship.

Love is a hard choice at times, but the opposite, the hardening of our hearts towards another, especially if it is our spouse, makes us hard. God does not ask us to do things He has not provided for. God does not ask us to do things that He has not promised to give us the ability to perform. This Depreciation Room is nothing more than the built up resentments and the articles of unforgiveness that we have towards our spouse, not only does it damage or possibly destroy the marriage, it prevents us from growing and being free in our emotions.

“It’s time to start thinking differently. It’s time to let love lead your thoughts and your focus. The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to pray for your spouse. And the only reason you should ever go in this room is to write “Covered in Love” in huge letters across the walls”. For those of us who have accepted the price Jesus paid for the forgiveness of our sins, we should remember the sins of our spouses are also covered by the blood of Jesus, totally forgiven!

The dare for the day asks us to get two sheets of paper. On one we are to write out the positive things about our spouse. Then we are to spend time writing down the negative things on the other sheet. We are to refer to the positive list and let our spouse know we are thankful for that characteristic.

Having done this exercise a few times, I would encourage you to be very thorough in both areas, especially the negative aspects; I’ll tell you why later. The positive characteristics will be added to daily as we begin to purpose to see the good every day in our beloved.

Day 5 Love is not rude II

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Today’s reading in The Love Dare deals with “rudeness”. “Rudeness is unnecessarily saying or doing things that are unpleasant for another person to be around. To be rude is to act unbecoming, embarrassing, or irritating. In marriage, this could be a foul mouth, poor table manners, or a habit of making sarcastic quips. However you look at it, no one enjoys being around a rude person. Rude behavior may seem insignificant to the person doing it, but it’s unpleasant to those on the receiving end.”

I was raised being shamed into “good manners”, many in my generation will recognize statements like, “kids should be seen and not heard”. We were taught at school, for me a Lutheran Parochial school, and at home, table, and classroom and playground manners. A stern and punishing adult was always present and any infraction was dealt with swiftly and corporeally. My home was a hypocritical teaching experience, “do as I say, not as I do!” and extremely violent in language and action.

Needless to say I was not properly equipped for a successful marital relationship, or any other relationship for that manner. I had my fill of physical violence growing up and absolutely did not want to bring that into my adult life. I somehow gave myself permission to have a sharp tongue and be sarcastic. I now believe, since my wife so convincingly, albeit not lovingly, drove into my thinking that sarcasm goes beyond rude behavior.

What I share in this blog is considered by some as poor boundaried, ill-mannered, and to me also, embarrassing. What I have learned though, is that by others sharing their “experience, strength and hope”, I receive healing. I am by nature a shy person, but because I have lived my life a certain way and not concerned myself with consequences to self or others, I feel it is my duty to share what I have learned that is good and healing. My children have their mother’s sensitivity to privacy and they are mortified by what I share.

I know there is value and relief in being able to share even our most painful memories. Complete strangers tell me their life stories after only minutes of conversation. Friends confide in me life stories that they tell no one else, why? I have no idea! Some of these stories are so painful, it is hard to listen to them and at times I fell exhausted after hearing them, but I always feel blessed. It is an honor to be trusted, to be perceived as someone who cares and someone who will not shame you for sharing.

When I was getting to know my wife, she confided in me, we had intertwining relationships, sometimes a good thing, other times not. This is bearable as long as the relationship remains on a friendship level. I was not mature or love-filled enough to handle all that information as we moved into an intimate relationship. I was sarcastic and ill-mannered because I was unforgiving, ungracious, and without mercy. It would be far easier for me to go through this divorce than to be grown by God to handle what I have not handled very well to this point. I am not interested in the easier path however, I want to grow and extend the grace, mercy and forgiveness that God has extended to me to my wife.

I love this quote from the Love Dare, “If you’re thinking that your spouse—not you—is the one who needs work in this area, you’re likely suffering from a bad case of ignorance, with a secondary case of selfishness. Remember, love is not rude, but lifts you to a higher standard”.

“Here are three guiding principles when it comes to practicing etiquette in your marriage:
1. Guard the Golden Rule. Treat your mate the same way you want to be treated (see Luke 6.31).
2. No Double Standards. Be as considerate to your spouse as you are to strangers and coworkers.
3. Honor Requests. Consider what your husband or wife already asked you to do or not to do. If in doubt, then ask.
All quotes are from “The Love Dare”

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