An Unexpected Divorce Court Detour Saved Our Failed Marriage

| January 22, 2018
We were on the road to divorce court when God stepped in...

One bad year turned into two and before I knew it, we were creeping up on five years of misery. Sure we’d had some good times, but secretly our marriage felt like an episode of Marriage Bootcamp. Hard and full of drama.

Marriage was a bigger challenge than I’d ever imagined. I’d gone into it with pretty simple expectations: He’d make me happy all the time. When he didn’t, I got angry and bitter. I was sad. I got mean.

He wasn’t meeting my need for emotional intimacy. I didn’t meet his need for physical intimacy. Talk about a hot mess.

I’d go days without speaking to him, and even considered having an affair. I acted like a spoiled child, and fantasized about divorce. It was bad. I didn’t know much about God, but if He was good as everyone said He was, I couldn’t believe He’d want me to be in an unhappy marriage.

“God is love, right?” I rationalized. He’d want me to be happy.

Still, I couldn’t bear the thought of people thinking I was a failure. I stuck it out, hoping it’d get better (with little or no help from me).

For years, I hid behind a smile. I pretended life was good. I didn’t want anyone to know how miserable we were behind closed doors.

Are you hiding your difficult or painful marriage behind a smile? Do unmet expectations and frustrations make you bitter or angry towards your husband?

The Road to Divorce Court

If things had continued as they were, my husband and I might’ve been on the road to divorce court. One weekend–when I was out of town– someone invited him to church. If I’d been home, I never would’ve agreed to go.

But God had other plans.

I wasn’t home.

He went.

And, he went again and again.

Then, he had the nerve to suggest we attend church together. Regularly. This was going to be another issue we’d be on opposite sides of.

I refused to go.

But, he kept going. Week after week he’d ask me to go with him. Week after week, I refused.

Frustrated and at the end of my rope, I finally agreed to go.

Just A Short Detour…

I gave him an inch, he tried to take a mile. He wanted us to join a small group.

Argh!!

Reluctantly, I agreed. But, I was determined not to share the details of my marriage. I remember sitting in a group of women as the leader asked each woman questions about her relationship with her husband. I felt defensive.

What difference did it make how I treated him? He was the reason for our unhappiness.

If he was more loving, romantic and caring, I’d be, too.

As she asked the questions and they shared, I excused myself and went into the bathroom and cried. I refused to let anyone see the pain in my heart. I turned her questions over in my mind:

6 lessons I learned at Bible study that saved my marriage

  1. Did you say anything disrespectful to your husband in the past week?
  2. Did you say anything unkind to your husband in the past week?
  3. Were you in an inappropriate relationship in the past week?
  4. Did you harbor anger in your heart towards your husband in the past week?

I was three for four. If things continued the way they were, I’d figured I’d be four for four before long. But, I was afraid to admit it.

They Didn’t Pull Any Punches

I was amazed by the transparency and women’s willingness to share the struggles in their marriages.

Finally, my turn came. I didn’t want to share but when I began talking, I couldn’t stop. My hurt found its way from my heart to my mouth and fell out. Tears sprung to my eyes as I admitted my struggles.

The women met me with love and encouragement. No one called me a bad wife. No one called me a failure. Instead they began to love me through my struggles. I learned how my attitude was hurting my husband and my marriage.

As we continued to meet with our small group, we saw godly marriages modeled.

I learned things like…

  • How God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, including my suffering (Romans 8:28).
  • How God uses marriage to refine us.
  • What loving my husband unconditionally meant.
  • I was held accountable for my behavior as a wife.
  • I had to make mindful decisions to forgive.
  • How to adjust my expectations.

I wish I’d understood how damaging a poor attitude could be to my marriage. I wish I’d had a mentor to encourage me early in my marriage.

We Ended Up Making a U-Turn On the Road to Divorce Court

Learning how to adjust expectations and love unconditionally was not easy. Sometimes, I still drop the ball. Marriage is hard, but the pain of divorce is much worse.

The problems in my marriage were the direct result of my unmet expectations. I had to learn how to let go of expectations and embrace God’s will.

We made a U-turn on the road to divorce court, and thankfully we’re riding up on 32 years of marriage. I wish I’d had someone to challenge my attitude and expectations early in my marriage. Life isn’t rosy all the time.  But, we’ve learned how to love and respect each other, even when it’s hard.


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25 Comments

  • Reply Denise Pass January 22, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Praise God for the witness and example you have in your marriage. Thank you for sharing this post and being transparent about the struggles within your marriage. Facing our struggles is a sure path to victory!

  • Reply Katie January 22, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    The enemy wants us to keep secret about our struggles. When we bring them into the light, the Lord can bring transformation! I love this story of redemption and hope. I’m so glad God brought you guys to a safe place to share your heart. Thanks for sharing your story!
    Katie recently posted…Do You Make These 4 Homeschooling Mistakes?My Profile

    • Reply Heather Hart January 23, 2018 at 9:52 am

      Amen! There is power in sharing our testimonies! Thanks for stopping in to encourage Sheila. She is out of town this week, but she will be reading comments when she gets back.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Jesus & My Birthday WishMy Profile

  • Reply Heather Hart January 22, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Attitude really does make all the difference. Early on in my marriage, someone taught me some similar lessons and it totally transformed my marriage before we got off to too rocky of a start, and I am so thankful. Thanks for sharing your story, Sheila!
    Heather Hart recently posted…The Unexpected Power of Prayer (& my bitter heart)My Profile

  • Reply Jennifer Coe January 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    That sounds like a life transforming time and I am SO glad your heart was open! Praise God!
    Jennifer Coe recently posted…Wise Women: My Favorite Christian Youtube VlogsMy Profile

  • Reply Julie Loos January 22, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Sometimes we want to blame our spouse for the unhappiness we are feeling. Resentment can grow bigger each day, can’t it?
    I’ve found in my own marriage that when I ask God to soften my heart and change me, He works wonders for my marriage too,
    Great post!

    • Reply Heather Hart January 23, 2018 at 9:54 am

      So true, Julie! I learned years ago that when I pray for God to change my heart it does wonders for my marriage as well.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Jesus & My Birthday WishMy Profile

  • Reply Melissa January 22, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    That is such an awesome testimony to how God and loving Christians can open hearts. Plus such an important lesson on how marriage is about loving the other person unconditionally. Not about receiving love.
    Melissa recently posted…Finding Christian Charities that Speak to Your HeartMy Profile

    • Reply Heather Hart January 23, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Yes! My husband always says marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s about two becoming one and giving your all.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Jesus & My Birthday WishMy Profile

  • Reply Tressie Burdette January 22, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Marriage does take work and I think we don’t realize this going into it. It’s amazing how fast God can turn it around.
    Tressie Burdette recently posted…Your To Do List And GodMy Profile

    • Reply Heather Hart January 23, 2018 at 9:57 am

      You are so right, Tressie. Going into marriage we rarely know what we are in for, but God can work with anything, and with Him in the mix we can make it through anything.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Goals, Plans, and JesusMy Profile

  • Reply Christina January 22, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    What an amazing testimony! It’s amazing how God can turn things around for our good if we just remain obedient. This post has touched my life and I know it will do the same for others. God Bless!

  • Reply Alice Mills January 22, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    I love your honesty and vlulnerability in this post. It is the biggest challenge in a marriage to give up our rights. Praise God His plans are better than. ours!
    Alice Mills recently posted…How to Love Your Enemies: No Faking AllowedMy Profile

    • Reply Heather Hart January 23, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Giving up our rights is hard, isn’t it Alice? So thankful we have a God who can help us with that.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Goals, Plans, and JesusMy Profile

  • Reply Katie Braswell January 23, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Incredible Sheila! Your vulnerability speaks volumes to the testament of God’s redemption in our lives and relationships! One thing that really spoke to me : “I had to learn how to let go of expectations and embrace God’s will.” This was and still is one of the hardest things I have had to learn in marriage. I had to learn that my happiness is not met by another human being, but from my Savior. You’re right! Marriage is meant to sharpen us, make us better. It’s an ugly and painful process at times, but God designed it for our benefit and to bring Him ultimate glory! Thank you so much for sharing a part of your story and your heart! <3
    Katie Braswell recently posted…Adopted: Knowing Who We Were, and Who We AreMy Profile

    • Reply Heather Hart January 23, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Letting go of expectations is so hard, Katie! It’s something I struggle with on a recurring basis. Thankfully Jesus is so understanding and always willing to forgive and embrace. Thanks for stopping in.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Jesus & My Birthday WishMy Profile

  • Reply Jess January 23, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    It’s amazing how God pulls us to Him, even through the people we have difficulty loving. And you provide such a real struggle that is common to all marriages- how we all have to be accountable for our attitudes, thoughts, and actions. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing with us what every person needs to understand; marriage is about being vulnerable, taking ownership, working hard to serve and not be served, and relying upon God is make it all possible!
    Jess recently posted…Are You A Lost Christian?My Profile

  • Reply Kaalu January 25, 2018 at 12:01 am

    We should folow the steps of God to defeat divorce

  • Reply Kaalu January 25, 2018 at 12:06 am

    With Jesus Christ all things are posible

  • Reply Crystal Wagner-Thomas January 26, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    I appreciate you sharing your testimony both me and my husband are Christians and we’ve been separated now for several months he is narcissistic but I’m believing God for deliverance because Jesus is bigger than Narcissism.

    He ask for a divorce but I said no he hasn’t contacted me in weeks. I’m grateful because this gives me hope everyone is so negative and critical and have the same advice basically give up because you deserve to be happy. Just like you mention for me divorce would be way more painful even in us being separated physically and relationally. Nothing is too hard for God.

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