This is chapter 9 in a series entitled Telling My Story.
I have attempted to write this chapter at least three times, and I cannot seem to get it right.
The bare facts are that, after about fifteen years of marriage, outwardly our circumstances looked better than they ever had; we bought a new home, and our congregation was growing. Nevertheless, privately I felt like something was deeply wrong in our marriage and I did not know what it was.
Neither did I know what to do about it, except to pray. Late one evening, after the kids were asleep, K. asked me what was bothering me. I tried to explain that I could not seem to get through to him. I felt like there was some kind of wall between us and I could only get to know him up to a point, and then I would run into a brick wall.
He gave me an odd look, with something almost like fear in his eyes, and said that I was imagining things. This was what he generally told me whenever I raised an issue that he did not wish to discuss.
He was charming and well-liked by nearly everyone who knew him. Admittedly, I was not-so-charming since being frequently in the public eye chafed at me and social small talk bored me; and thus I was not exactly all sunshine and light. I can honestly say that I was dependable and loyal; but it was not enough.
# # # # #
None of us can say what causes another person to make the choices they make or to do the things they do. We can guess, we can surmise, we can draw our own conclusions. But only God can really know.
The writer Matthew Kelly has said, "God loves us as we are, and he loves us too much to allow us to stay that way." Ouch.
I will never know what caused K. to finally tell me what was behind the wall. Perhaps he thought I would eventually find out anyway, and it was better to tell it his own way. Perhaps he sincerely wanted to change. He said he did not want to lose me.
In any case, he made his disclosure, and in that single hour the world shifted on its axis and my life collapsed. How could I have been so blind? How could I have been so stupid?
What I later came to think of as the "decade of despair" was only beginning. It would get worse, much worse. Fortunately, I did not know that, and at the time it was all I could do to breathe in and breathe out; and even that seemed like too much trouble.
I knew Christians were supposed to be over comers, but instead I was overcome, with sorrow. Shortly after all this occurred, I was dusting the bedroom furniture one afternoon, when I was the only one at home. There was a gospel record playing on the stereo and that is all I remembered until I came to about an hour later, laying on the bedroom floor. I had fainted from the sheer weight of the grief I was carrying.
Still, as women do, especially as mothers do when children are depending upon them, I got up, got myself together and went to the kitchen to cook dinner. It was almost time for the kids to come home.
The marriage lasted another eight years. But after many more losses and sorrows, we decided upon a trial separation. That was what we had discussed. Instead, he filed for divorce almost immediately, and re-married the week our divorce was final. I was forty, but most days I felt more like I was ninety: tired and used up.
It was not all his fault. Near the very end, I contributed to the demise of our marriage. Looking back, I wondered whether it might not have been better if I had walked away eight years earlier.
But what was done was done, and I had to find a way to go on. I did not know how I was going to do that, now that I was nothing but a broken failure.
Songwriter Bill Gaither wrote: "...all I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but he made something, beautiful, out of my life."
# # # # #
"For I know the plans I have for you." declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11