I would like to say that our story is about what happened in our lives before we became Christians. Unfortunately, both of us were committed Christians. But we had not been taught how to function in the most important human relationship on Earth. We were victims of a society that requires years of preparation for almost any significant career endeavor but requires no real preparation for one of the most crucial undertakings in life: marriage. As a result, I did things that were wrong, and was a bad husband.
We attended church each Sunday. We believed wholeheartedly in the Bible. Yet we were racing toward marital ruin. The final hurdle in our downward slide came one evening when we were having the same old fight about unmet needs and pet frustrations. It seemed to be the five-hundredth time.
Accusations and Hurt
Karen repeatedly accused me of not loving her as much as I loved my job or golf. She accused me of not meeting her needs.
Finally, angry, hurt and defensive, I jumped to my feet, pointed a shaking finger toward our bedroom, and shouted, “Go pack your bags. Get out of this house and out of my life!”
As Karen ran out of the room sobbing, I sat down in my chair and stared at the blank television screen. I acted as if nothing had happened and as if I could not care less if something had happened. In reality, my heart was being torn in two. I didn’t want her to leave. But I did not believe I could take any more of the strife and contention if she stayed. That was one of the lowest points of my life and, without a doubt, the lowest point in our marriage.
While I recovered from the fight in the living room and contemplated my options, Karen cried in the bedroom. She felt the same as I did. She cared deeply for me and cherished many of the memories of our lives together. Yet she had lost respect and much of her affection for me.
Thoughts of Losing Her
I began to rehearse what I would do and what she probably would do if we broke up. The more I thought about it, the more I hurt. I didn’t want to lose her, but I didn’t know how to keep her. Fortunately, two things happened that would be instrumental to the healing and restoration of our marriage:
- I broke. For the first time ever, I realized that I was wrong. I could see how bad of a husband I was. It was like scales fell from my eyes and I could see myself as I really was. I was a very selfish and dominant man.
- Also, for the first time, I humbled myself and confessed my weakness and need for God’s help.
For years, I had been unwilling to accept responsibility for any of the problems with our marriage. When Karen and I fought, I always found a way to make it look as if it were her fault. But that evening, I was overwhelmed with the reality that I didn’t know how to be a husband. This realization was a stark contrast to the overbearing arrogance and chauvinism that had characterized my life up to this moment.
As the truth concerning our problems began to sink into my heart, I was reminded of a Scripture concerning the Holy Spirit. I had read it just that morning.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26, NIV)
As clearly as my own shortcomings were being exposed that evening the Lord spoke to my heart. He let me know that He was the solution. Through the Lord bringing this verse to my mind, I began to realize that He was present in my life to teach me all things.
Those two words, all things, kept echoing through my mind until they finally sunk in. If the Holy Spirit was sent to teach me all things, then He could teach me how to be a husband!
What I Learned
So, first of all, I understood the reality that He was with me to help me. Then, second, I asked Him to teach me. By faith, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me be the husband I needed to be. Alone in the living room, I got out of my chair and fell to my knees.
“Holy Spirit,” I whispered, choked with emotion, “Jesus said He sent You to teach His followers all things. I am asking You to show me how to be a husband, because I don’t know how, and no one has ever taught me. Please help me to learn to love Karen as I should. I am so sorry for all of the things I have done to damage our marriage and her. Please forgive me, and help me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
As I got up and sat down again in my chair, I knew something was happening within me. It was not some hyper-spiritual or “spooky” experience. Nevertheless, something was happening inside me. I was not only recognizing how wrong I had been in our marriage but, also, I was willing to admit it. That was a miracle!
God began a work that night of bringing truth and humility into my heart. He was preparing me to learn what He was about to teach me. He revealed to me that I had misplace the priority of my precious wife in my life. Plus, He revealed that our marriage was in danger as a result.
Repentance and Healing
One of the first things God told me to do for the healing of our marriage was to repent to Karen for the way I had treated her. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I did hear God speak clearly to my heart. There was no mistake. I had put myself, my job and golf above Karen.
After I repented, I went into the bedroom where she was still crying. Because never before had I admitted that I was wrong about anything in our relationship, I am sure she thought I was coming to finish the fight. Or she may have thought I was going to make another point in the argument. So she immediately was on guard when I entered the room.
I walked over to the bed where she was lying and knelt down next to her. “I need to talk to you,” I said.
She wiped her swollen eyes with a tissue and asked defensively, “What about?”
“About what I’ve been doing wrong in our marriage,” I replied. That got her attention instantly!
I told her the Lord had shown me that I had been wrong for not putting her first in my life. I repented of laziness toward the relationship and of my selfishness. Then I asked her forgiveness and told her I was hanging up my golf clubs (which I did for several years).
She cried as I repented, and she forgave me. Then she confessed her own shortcomings and sins toward me and repented of her actions and attitudes. Of course, I also forgave her.
Things Changed from That Point
Since that night, we have never forgotten the importance of keeping each other first.
I can state without a doubt that every year of our marriage since then has been better than the year before. We are much more in love today, and we know how to love one another better than we did on our honeymoon. That is how God intended marriage to be.
This testimony comes from the book Marriage On The Rock: God’s Design For Your Dream Marriage written by Jimmy and Karen Evans. It is published by Regal. Jimmy is the senior pastor of an interdenominational church with more than 8000 members. He hosts, together with his wife Karen, a nationally broadcast television program called MarriageToday, and have founded a national marriage ministry based in Dallas, Texas.
“The contents of this book are a result of what God has shown Karen and me about marriage. In this spiritual-education process, God healed our marriage. Additionally, He gave us a love for one another far beyond any we had ever known or imagined. Today, after more than 33 years of marriage, not only are we deeply in love, but we also understand how to stay in love. We have learned how to meet one another’s needs as we walk through life’s seasons and challenges.”