Why I Stayed, Too: A Husband’s Focus on God Saves His Marriage
- Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Editor's Note: This article is part II of a two-part series. For Carla's perspective, read: Why I Stayed: A Wife's Focus on God Saves Her Marriage.
I remember the dream. She would be my cheerful and loving companion, someone who believed in me, someone with me, someone for me.
My wife still seemed cheerful and loving—with others. But she appeared to see little value in me or in the things I did. I was convinced she was more against me than she could ever be for me.
Sometimes the dream dies. Where do you go from there?
We moved to California when I got a job with a telecom start-up. God arranged the move for us, in dramatic fashion, just before the telecom market crashed and massive layoffs in my industry began. I was one of the fortunate few with a job that was relatively secure. Provided we could keep the company afloat.
Hours were long, and so was my commute. I would leave before my kids were awake, and return after they were asleep. If I was travelling I could be gone for weeks at a time, with perhaps an occasional brief stop home to crash, do laundry, and repack my suitcase.
The work environment was often dysfunctional, sometimes toxic and abusive, particularly during the first years. It was very difficult. I became much more diligent in prayer as a way to survive, making good use of that long morning commute. I kept my focus on serving with integrity and as much wisdom as God would grant. It was one day at a time.
And for the most part I did it alone.
Yes, my wife handled the home front, and you can argue that in doing so she was supporting me. But she no longer knew my story. She wasn’t with me. She wasn’t for me.
And I wasn’t for her either. I had lost sight of her story too.
Where do we get this crazy notion that love should be so easy? I wish there were more sermons on Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:28: “those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” Many troubles… that sounds about right to me.
Yes, marriage can become a great blessing. But it is guaranteed to bring greater trouble into your life. And that trouble means more effort and diligence is required.
Some say I should have simply quit my job to be home more. I say it’s not so simple. Yes, being home does help, but it’s not all about being physically proximate.
And sometimes you can’t be. It’s true my options were limited in California because of a job shortage—and there were plenty of people waiting for a chance at my job. But the simpler, deeper truth is I stayed in my job out of obedience. On several occasions I pleaded with God to release me to do something else, only to hear Him quite clearly say no.
And that’s the first thing you do when the dream has died, when your spouse seems against you, and you can’t see any hope. You obey God.
Pursue God first
When trouble strikes, it’s natural to focus on solving the problem. It’s all too easy to allow something urgent to derail what’s really important. In my experience that’s a recipe for disaster.
Your best first step is always to plant your primary attention and focus squarely on Jesus Christ. Don’t plant it on your spouse and marriage, or on whatever trouble you’re facing, or on any other pursuit. Plant it on Jesus. Make choices that force you to grow in Him. This is the one thing you dare not fail in, and the one thing that allows all else to fall properly in place.
Obey and pursue Him, and repeat that process over and over again. Submit to the plans He has for you, and to the changes He says are next for you. He knows you and your world inside and out. He knows it matters. It matters to Him. He is for you, even when no one else is.
Choose your friends wisely
We need others around us who are for us as well. The people you choose to spend time with will influence your values and decisions, especially in times of crisis. Choosing the right friends now is like choosing in advance to do the right thing later.
I avoid spending time with people who are negative about my wife or unsupportive of my marriage. At my lowest points I have deliberately sat myself down with men I can trust to speak truth and steer me straight. It works.
Build a common world
Husbands and wives live in different worlds. I don’t mean physical worlds, although that can be part of it, but worlds of experience, values, and understanding. For a marriage to thrive, there needs to be a healthy degree of overlap between those worlds. Lose it, and your marriage will turn toward a dangerous place.
For me, rebuilding that overlap started with simple things, like calling my wife on my cell phone when driving home. Like being responsible for the trash getting out each week, even if I had to call home from whatever time zone I was in to ask someone to do it. These days it includes investing my time in her work and ministry, and scheduling regular times just for the two of us. And picking my clothes up off the floor...
Pursue God first; choose friends wisely; and build a common world. These three principles work, with effort and diligence.
If you follow through on them, you can revitalize your marriage. But that’s not guaranteed. The guarantee is they will eventually revitalize you. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). That life is available in the midst of and through every hardship and circumstance. Don’t miss it.
Trent Coroy is an independent consultant, providing technical, marketing and business development services in the fields of photonics, sensing and communications. He serves in ministry with his wife Carla Anne, and recently contributed a chapter to her book Married Mom, Solo Parent: Finding God's Strength to Face the Challenge, which shares some of their story. Trent and Carla Anne have been married since 1993.
Trent is also the creator of Faithbuddy, a Christ-centered social networking platform that makes it easy to track and share your prayer online.
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