When Monica first asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I was enthusiastic. That might seem like a given, but I can barely find enough time and energy to fill the ever increasing summer void in my own blog. And so, guest posting was not something I was seeking. Still, "I should say 'yes' this time!" was my knee-jerk reaction, and I committed myself before the topic was even established.
I knew what I wanted to write about from the get-go. I always know. But I thought I'd throw out a wide net, just in case. After all, she might have wanted me to write about having four kids within sixteen months. I could definitely entertain the masses with poop-up-to-my-elbows stories of incompetence. But when she said, "I was hoping you'd write about your marriage," I did that thing with both arms that looks like someone pulling the emergency brake on a fast moving train. I call it the "YES!" motion, but I'm not sure if it has a real name. At any rate, it looked like Monica and I were on the same page (surprise, surprise), and so I feel strongly that this post is being written, very specifically, for someone who will be reading it today.
Before we go ahead and dig right in, don't you just love that title? I wrote it down after God woke me up in the middle of the night. It made me laugh out loud (I absolutely adore serving a God with a sense of humor!). Anyway, I can't take any credit for it. And it's my hope that, when I'm finished writing this post, I'll be able to take very little credit for the whole of it.
Let's begin. Shall we?
I married my husband on July thirteenth two-thousand and three. We spent two gloriously oversexed weeks together before he headed back to the Marine Corps base in North Carolina to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan. He was leaving me behind to mourn and pine, pine and mourn, until his return. Actually, that's not entirely true. In reality, we enjoyed a beautiful wedding night complete with champagne, caviar and the best meal I've eaten to date, and then I spent the majority of the next thirteen days battling an excruciatingly painful UTI. I soaked for many hours in a putrid herbal bath (the same one I ended up living in after my second set of twins were born) while he talked to me from outside the bathroom door because he couldn't stand the smell that, I might add, was slowly infusing his new bride's pores. Once he flew away, I began busily preparing our home. I did very little pining, though, and found that, once the question of "Who am I going to marry?" had been answered, I was suddenly and surprisingly free. Truth be told, I loved the freedom (though not the loneliness) of that first year of marriage without my husband. Although, the second six months apart were much harder than the first, because it was at the mark between first and second that I actually fell in love with my baby-faced Marine.
He came home, officially discharged, a few days before our first anniversary (which we celebrated with a formal ceremony since we'd eloped the year before). We were only a few months into our second year of marriage, and about a month into our first viable pregnancy, when I discovered that my husband had a possible problem with pornography. It would be another year or more before I'd hear the words pornography and addictio
n together in a
sentence. All I knew, in that moment, was that I wasn't willing
to put up with whatever garbage was being dished up and passed down the
table in my direction. I expressed my hurt and outrage and made it
abundantly clear that I would not be sticking around to play
second fiddle to fantasy. And I figured that would more than take care
of the problem. After all, my husband loved me and I was the
only real choice. But a planned pregnancy soon stole my husband's
lingerie clad housekeeper and replaced her with a bedridden, vomiting
dependent. That certainly wasn't the cause of our downfall, but it
warmly incubated a dangerous preexisting condition.
By the spring of two-thousand and six, I was the mother of two very active barely toddlers with two more waiting (also actively) in the womb. It wasn't the time I would have chosen to receive a late night phone call from my husband's recently scorned mistress. But, then again, I supposed there is never a good time for that call. Nevertheless, it was less than twenty four hours later that I finally knew what I had been, in sudden bursts of anger, accusing my husband of for the past year or more. I wasn't crazy, that was the good news. The bad news was that I had married a sex addict who had embarked on a dangerous and destructive double life about the same time I fell in love. I imagine that any human being, when faced with the kind of news I received that night, would cry. I am fabulous at being human, so I wept.
The next few weeks were a hailstorm of emotion. The majority of my nearly three year marriage had been tainted by a common lie; and my husband, long before destroyed by guilt, had little desire to delay the agony any longer. He insisted we should end it; and, on the surface, I agreed. Even still, the quiet voice, as if on a loop in my spirit, repeated, "Let me have this, and I will work a miracle," over and over and over again. And I knew, almost instantly, that I was being asked (but never ordered) to stay.
That was four years ago, and oh how I wish I could say that the rest of the story was history...that I hadn't spent the past four years learning how to forgive my husband and that he hadn't spent it learning how to forgive himself and find deliverance from his demons. But, well, the journey only began for us at that point.
I was able to stay, not because I am especially strong or especially weak (though these are the two most common theories), but because I trust my God. The things He has diligently taught me apply, not just to our very dramatic version of a broken marriage, but to all marriages since Adam first blamed Eve for serving up that delectible forbidden fruit. You see, what marriage does is make one person out of two. But divided they fall. Divided they fall. Divided they fall! And Satan knows that much better than we do.
The next time you are face-to-face with your enemy, try giving their arm a little pinch (you can tell them it's an experiment). If they wince or complain, I can tell you with absolute certainty that you've been misinformed. The human being you are standing before (even someone with the potential to hurt you as only a spouse can) is not, in fact, your enemy. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Human enemies are the kind we pray for, not the kind we pray against. And so the same enemies you have in your current marriage you will often have two, three even four marriages down the road. Which is not to say that all marriages will be saved. Two individual hearts must surrender to God before they can move together as one. But, as half of a marriage, every spouse has the obligation to God to know his enemies...and to fight, hard, with and for the right side.
The good news is that it's Satan who is out to destroy you, to destroy your spouse, and to destroy your marriage. Your spouse may choose the wrong side (for a season or, sadly, forever), but your destruction is not his idea. Just as Eve wouldn't have thought to eat the apple if Satan hadn't hissed the idea her way, your spouse, your other half, your teammate wouldn't set out to stray, cheat, lie, insult, nag, withdraw, reject
leave the cap off the toothpaste if
not influenced (not forced, but tempted) by principalities,
powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high
places. Satan cannot
make anyone do anything, but he quite often has something to do
with it. So, when Satan attacks through the actions of your spouse, don't let him pull you apart; instead, lock
arms (even when it hurts) and hold on tight. That's what we've done for
the past four years, even through the insinuation of a step-child and rumors of recent adultery. And, from a depth of
experience that I never sought to gain, I can, without shame or doubt,
tell you this: Marriage is precious, purposeful and holy. And nothing Satan hates as much should be given up on without a bloody, armor