This is our story, a story of love, heartache, divorce, and reconciliation.
Facing divorce was not the first thing we anticipated when we married each other. We were both 18 years old and heard from many doubters we would not last, and honestly, those words stuck in my mind as I lay awake at night wondering where we went wrong. About one year after we were married we found ourselves signing divorce papers. The reasons for our divorce were many, but they can be summed up in a few points.
Communication: I accept full responsibility for the failure we experienced early on. Communication was and has been a weak point of mine. We discovered communicating with each other, about anything and everything was critical to the quality of our marriage. If we do not communicate, we drift apart as friends, as lovers, and as spouses. Failure to communicate with my wife was the number one reason we faced divorce.
Finances: This has been an issue for us, as it is for many couples. I would spend money without telling her, and it caused friction between us. It eventually led to us filing bankruptcy because I was horrible at managing money. Eventually, we sought out professional counseling for our finances and learned what we needed to be successful with our money.
Commitment: I was not firmly committed to her or our marriage. When the reality of life punched me in the face, I had no clue how to respond. I had no idea how I was supposed to recover when the bills were more than the money we had. For me, when there was a problem, leaving was the way to go. From experience, I want you to know, it is not.
Expectations: Our expectations of marriage were lofty, to say the least. Most of our expectations for our marriage came from fairy tale relationships. Both of us learned to reel in our expectations. When we balanced our expectations of each other, we found a much more peaceful life and relationship.
Faith: Our faith has been the strength of our marriage. When we were facing divorce, we were facing it because we had abandoned our faith. I encourage you to remain true to your faith and communicate with your spouse. For us, this was a strong point of recommitting our lives to each other.
A couple of months after we separated and ultimately signed divorce papers, we found ourselves talking to each other. The renewing of our relationship came through the number one issue that caused division between us: communication. We learned to be intentional about communicating with each other. I loved her. I loved her when I married her while we were apart, and I love her more now than ever. Have we had a perfect marriage? Far from it. I am not a perfect husband, and she is not a perfect wife. We are humans. Therefore, we are naturally imperfect. This is what adds the beauty to relationships. Once we realized the power of forgiveness in our marriage, we were willing to sacrifice anything and everything to be with each other. I walked away from jobs and friendships that required me to put her second in my life. I would not tolerate any friendship requiring me to sacrifice my relationship with her.
Our true strength and renewing of our marriage came through realizing the importance of forgiveness. I realized, for the first time, I needed to surrender my need to be "right" or to always be the "winner". We are a team. This all took place nearly fourteen years ago. This year, we celebrate our 15th anniversary. Some men have told me I am weak because I stand and fight for my marriage. Some perceive me as less of a man. I can tell you this, without a doubt: It takes a very strong person to fight for something they love. Will we have a marriage that lasts a lifetime? I do not know. None of us knows what tomorrow brings. I can tell you from my mistakes I have learned if you want to give yourself the best shot at a successful marriage, you better be willing to go through hell to keep it and fight for it.
It takes an extraordinarily strong person to forgive and love again, at least this is what I have learned from marriage.