When Times Are Tough

My husband was absent from dinner again. I could see him at the other end of the table but he couldn’t see me. For two years his mind had been elsewhere. Not on bad things, just busy things like his job and the church’s building program. The weight of our home life was squarely on my shoulders and though I tried my best, many important things slipped off my plate and splattered all over the ground. This one-sided season was changing me and I knew it.

After dinner one night I went into the living room where my husband was looking at his notes from a recent meeting. I swallowed hard and sat down. I looked at him and he looked right into my eyes. He put his notes down to listen to what I had to say.

My husband works fifty hours a week as a construction manager. During our one-sided season, he also volunteered twenty-five hours a week heading up our church’s building program. This relentless pace eventually took a toll on our marriage.

I opened my mouth to speak and my eyes filled with tears. “I need to ask your forgiveness for something. You know I’ve been very hurt and angry over how things have gone these past two years. During my prayer time I realized that though you’ve been absent, I am the one who has committed the greater offense. You’ve stayed kind through it all. My heart has grown cold. Please forgive me. Though my feelings toward you have changed, I am going to make a conscious effort to love and care for you whether you understand me or not. I want all of what God has for me and I am going to do what He asks me to do.”

Kevin’s mouth dropped open. With each word I spoke, it seemed another scale fell from his eyes. After I finished, his voice cracked and he asked, “Is this what my choices have been doing to you?” I put my face in my hands and wept. Kevin came to me and wrapped me in his arms. There we sat, on the same level, two very imperfect people, desperately in need of God’s fresh mercies and grace.

From that day forward I kept my word and made the conscious effort to love my husband while he struggled to overcome his workaholic tendencies. And to be honest, there were days when love was simply a choice. I moved toward my husband simply out of obedience to God, and because that’s what I understood love to be. Over time though, I saw something magnificent happen. Kevin slowed down. He saw what he was missing and didn’t want to miss it anymore. A settled-ness replaced his driven-ness and though he still has an over-developed work ethic, he now has an even deeper conviction to fulfill his role at home. Little by little we both made deposits in an account that had been emptied over the past two years. We now put strict boundaries around our time and we tenaciously guard our date nights. Every morning we bow our heads in prayer and commit the day to the Lord. This keeps us in step with each other and in step with God.

Years have passed and I can honestly say that when I look at my husband, I find a love in my heart that almost overwhelms me. He is funny and strong and faithful. He has worked hard to make choices that have covered our home and rebuilt my trust. I see God actively working in him, and he sees God actively working in me.

Adapted from Alone in Marriage: Encouragement for the Times When it’s all up to You
Copyright © 2007 Susie Larson, Published by Moody Press. All rights reserved.

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