Monday, 28 March 2011
The healing power of God
I've been thinking about writing about my relationship with my husband for a while. I haven't so far in any detail, because it's not just about me but about us. But recently I have realised that our story is a testimony in itself. Having a long chat with a close relative about my beliefs recently, the one thing that really spoke to him was when I told him about our how I felt God had healed our relationship. And it made me realise how important it is to share our own experiences with those around us. It is so encourgaing to hear from others where God has been working in their lives. After all, you can't argue with someones personal experience can you? You might not believe it but you can't say 'that didn't happen' because it is their experience...
Before I start I would like to say that this is just my experience. I am not making statements about marriage as a whole or what I think others should do, this is just what happened to us. And I make no apologies for the length of the post, it could have been far longer than it is!
So anyway... my husband and I will have been married for 10 years this September. We had been together for a few years before that and actually have known each other since we were 10, although only really became friends as teenagers when we both went to the same Church Youth group. We actually got together in our 20s, ( I already had a duaghter by this stage) we went out for a few years before moving in together and then getting married a yeat after that. Although my faith was shaky at that stage, when we said our marriage vows I meant them - that's not to say that I think people don't mean them when they say them, but I took seriously the fact that I was saying thses vows in front of God and not just to those assembled.
So all went well for a few years, life was good. Then we had 2 more children, and they were a total blessing to us. BUT at the same time we were exhausted, we didn't have much time for each other. The kids took most of our energy and part of this time I was working too. I can't talk from my husbands point of view, only mine, but I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore. In actual fact, I'm not sure I did before - I had gone from college to travelling, to having my oldest (when I was 21). I don't think I had time to work out who I was or what I wanted out of life and then I became defined as a single mother, then as a wife and a mother again.
And I was desperate to get out. My life revolved around nappies and school runs and cooking and washing.... Don't get me wrong I loved being at home with my kids, and I know that so many women aren't able to do that, so I am grateful for that opportunity. However my brain just needed to work! It wasn't content to be filled with baby mush and there's only so many conversations you can have about nappy contents before you begin to go insane. (In fact I think most mothers do go a bit insane in those early years, its probably human nature, designed to focus you on your offspring.).
Anyway I needed something. Just something to get me out of the house. If we ever had spare time my husband wanted to be with me, whilst I wanted to be with no one. I had small people hanging off me and making demands of me 24/7 and I needed some time for me. Selfish maybe but thats the way it was. So when my youngest was 2, I started my own business (I never do anything by halves..). There are loads of reasons why I did this rather than find some part time job or do some voluntary work, but they are for another time. It was probably the worst and yet the best decision I have ever made. It gave me back myself. It gave me some direction, I felt like a new person. But it pulled me further and further from my husband. We now had even less time together and he had to help more at home. Though I should say he was totally gracious in the whole thing, he never complained and was always supportive of what I was doing.
So needless to say by now our relationship was really drifting, except that neither of us would admit it. Eventually I broached the subject. Can't even remember how or why now, but I remember getting to a point and thinking I can't carry on like this. I'm not sure how he felt at the time, I did most of the talking (no change there then..) but we both agreed that things were not good. We managed to persuade our parents to look after the kids so we could get away for a few days. This was lovely but hard. We talked, we cried, we were silent, we were distant. We both felt that there was little we could do to change the situation. A lot of stuff was aired and we were both very honest but at the end of the week all we could do was to say that we wanted to stay together, but that until our situation changed and the kids were older, there was nothing that we could do to change it. We didn't disucss counselling/relate or anything like that but we agreed to just hang in there for each other.
We came home and not much had changed, if anything. We didn't particularly make an effort. In a way as we had both admitted we couldn't change anything until something changed in our circumstances, I think it meant we had an excuse not to do anything, if that makes sense. So we just drifted along. Six months later we had a big renewal of faith, which I have written about here. It was as we shared this experience, that I feel God healed our relationship, overnight. If you haven't got time to read the link above, our renewal of faith was due to a builder working on our house who shared his faith with me. I would tell my husband in the evenings about what he had said during the day. Then finally after a few weeks I gave my life to Jesus and prayed with our builder. The following day I led my husband in the same prayer. He describes it as 'as we fell in love with God, we fell in love with each other all over again', which is a perfect description.
The cynnical among you will say it was becuase we wanted to fix our relationship, or because we were sharing an experience that we became closer. I am telling you that is not how it happened. We had accepted that our relationship was not going to change, we were resigned to that and we were not looking for a miracle answer. And it was the very fact that it changed so quickly. It was as if while we prayed, God renewed not only our hearts but our love for each other. The way we interacted with each other changed immediately. We wanted to be together, which was especially odd for me because I had spent so long not wanting to be with him, but to be by myself! We were able to relate to each other again. We found ourselves reacting to each other in ways we hadn't done for a long time, just holding hands and things like that. Suddenly we were both very much 'together' again. And that has continued until today. So in a way we were right when we said until something changes in our circumstances it can't change - it just wasn't the change that we thought it would be! I cannot begin to explain how I feel about this, about what happened to us, except to say that I know God healed our relationship. For me there is no other explanation.
By the way, yes, the photo above is us. It's an awful photo of both of us but I love it because it's us, happy, having a BBQ breakfast on the beach, which we both love :)