“Happily Ever After”

4 06 2013

I was embarrassed to send out wedding invitations for my fourth marriage to (Christian) family members. They must think I’m such a loser.

This time was going to be different, though. I’d finally met Prince Charming.

I didn’t give a rip about church at that time of my life – I don’t think we ever even discussed religion during the year and four months we dated. We were too busy being in love and loving life to the max.

We had an amazing honeymoon on Maui. I’d never expected to go to Hawaii in my wildest dreams. Oh, the snorkeling, the sight-seeing, the luau; sitting on the lanai with the warm tropical breeze gently caressing bare skin.

What a perfect way to begin a perfect marriage. I thought to myself.

Have you ever wondered why fairy tales end right after the wedding, with the blissful couple riding off into the sunset?

{Hand raised o/, enthusiastic call} Pick me! Pick me!

Okay, I’ll tell you why. Because after every wedding comes a marriage!

For me, like I said, this was my fourth. I’m not proud of that. It’s one of my “coats of shame” that the Lord has to frequently remove from me – and remind me that He has given me His robe of righteousness in exchange.

The first marriage had a duration of about 20 months. We’d only known one another for 2 1/2 months before we got hitched. There were a lot of issues. The biggest one was that I expected to be treated like royalty…and in the process became a royal pain in the … well, you know.

My second marriage was going to be different…oh, and was it ever. I was determined before God to fulfill my marriage vows – and did for ten years. This was one of the most difficult times of my life. In the end, God led me out of captivity into a safe place.

The third marriage was another short one, measured by months – not years.

Then I met Mr. Right. I knew “happily ever after” lay just beyond our marriage covenant.

Wow! Was I in for a rude awakening. (Sorry, Dear Hubby – this will get better in a minute!).

What followed should have come as no surprise. After all, when we are given a test and fail, God is gracious and always administers a “re-test.” He provides do-overs until we finally pass because His kids are winners! No matter how many times we have to take our tests, on His report card, we will have straight As!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. It took me more than 25 years to figure this out:

Marriage is not primarily about happiness;

It is about holiness.

You see, our spouse is meant to bring out the worst in us so we can surrender it to God and grow in the process.

The selfishness

     The pride

          The manipulation

               The need to control

                    The insecurity

These rear their ugly heads in no time at all.

They certainly had in my first marriage. It was his fault. I just needed better husband material, so I moved on.

FAIL

The problems I thought I’d left behind in the first relationship followed me into the second…new ones appeared as well:

Fear

     Jealousy

          Lack of provision

               Isolation

                    Alcoholism

                         All the issues that go with addiction

I’ll make a better choice next time, I decided.

FAIL

There was a short period of emotional recovery. I figured I was “healed” and could now make a marriage work. It didn’t take long to figure out that I had all the problems of relationship #1 and #2…and a whole ‘nother set of issues:

Abandonment

     Indifference

          Loss of my kids’ respect

He’s not the one, either…next…

FAIL

As you’ve guessed, I brought all of these earlier problems into my “happily ever after” marriage. Of course, a new man comes with new challenges, so there were even more things to struggle with. In no time at all, we were about as unhappy as a couple could be. In fact, after about three years we separated.

But God…

Aren’t those the best words in all the world?

God had other plans for us. We went to marriage counseling at a church, which led to a marriage class of several weeks, and church attendance, all of which drew us into a genuine relationship with the Lord.

It’s taken time, but God is slowly changing our characters, removing defects one by one. I love Philippians 1:6. “God is faithful to complete the work He has begun in you.”

He just needed for me to stay put long enough for my sinful behaviors to surface, be acknowledged, repented of, and surrendered to His Spirit. He has been faithfully transforming me by renewing my mind.

It began when I was willing to cede the throne…and give it back to Him.

WOOHOO! THIS IS LOOKING PROMISING. SHE’S GOING TO GET THATA!’

Today I understand that I can live…

Happily Ever After

when I

Happily give up what-Ever God is After!

**************

P.S. We are celebrating our 17th anniversary next weekend.

God is good!

*****

Oh, and if we don’t “get” it through marriage (which brings out the worst in us)…

…we get children to be living mirrors of what we are like to live with.

I don’t want to say that I’m slow, or that there was a lot for me to see in myself…

…but I was given seven children – “mini-me’s” to demonstrate my behavior so I could see myself in action.

They truly are a gift of God!

(Fortunately, they’ve all outgrown my tendencies and have developed new ones of their own!! Love you guys! <3)

Melanie wrote two excellent articles on this topic. They fill in some of the “white spaces” in this post. You can read them here:

When Marriage Feels Like a Meat Grinder

http://themotherofnine9.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/when-marriage-feels-like-a-meat-grinder/

the Tetter-Totter Syndrome

http://themotherofnine9.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/the-teeter-totter-syndrome/

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30 responses

10 06 2013
Sheryl Wright Stinchcum

You have helped me today, and I want to thank you. You wrote, ” You see, our spouse is meant to bring out the worst in us so we can surrender it to God and grow in the process.” Wow! Now my marriage makes sense. (I’ve been trying to figure it out for 43 years.) Hugs & Blessings.

10 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Yay, God! Isn’t He so good to us? Glad to have been of service. This understanding sure helped me out. 🙂

\o/

10 06 2013
Sheryl Wright Stinchcum

Yes, God is good all the time, and I believe He gave you that insight about marriage. It’s something I want to pass on to other married women.

You know, it dawned on me one day that I would never have written a novel had it not been for my husband. I needed romance in my life, and he wasn’t providing it. So I “created” a romantic character. Much to my surprise, people who know us both remarked that the character WAS my husband. Imagine that!

10 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

That’s great! I’m writing a novel that is a spin on Jacob & wives. The male figures in the story are a conglomeration of my {sigh} four husbands!

Glad to know that’s how it works – and that it’s okay to do that. 😉

And I’m also glad to know that Prince Charming appeared after you kissed his toadly little face!

\o/

10 06 2013
Sheryl Wright Stinchcum

“The male figures in the story are a conglomeration of my {sigh} four husbands!” Aha! Then you have a lot of material to work with. Think of places you went with them, things they said (even the hurtful things). Think of hobbies or interests you shared.

To be honest, my prince charming is a “romanticized version” of my husband. Once my husband embarrassed me by telling our dinner guests that my spinach casserole looked like the stuff he scraped off the bottom of his lawnmower. Boy, I was mad. But later the incident struck me as funny and I used it in the book.

Four toads are better than one when it comes to digging up material for your book. By the way, I’m intrigued by the “Jacob and his wives” connection. My “toady” was hung up on my sister even after we got married, but that’s story in itself.

Your book is going to be a winner! Keep me posted on its progress. Hugs.

10 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks for the encouragement. All I need to do is find time to finish it. I have about 10 (very short) chapters of it already written. 😉

\o/

5 06 2013
Mary

Tami, this is soooo awesome, poignant, and just plain good writing! As I read this post, I kept thinking about a relative of mine who has experienced so much of the same as yourself regarding multiple marriages and just wanting to be “Happily Ever After!” But you have touched on what was missing 🙂 Bravo! I shared with her and she read and re-read and re-posted as well. Blessings!

5 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Gee, thanks, Mary. Glad that someone could benefit from this. God is good, isn’t He. He’s been my patient teacher…some days I’ll bet He would have liked to hit me over the head with my Schoolbook! 🙂
\o/

5 06 2013
Michael

Hiii. Thanks for your contribution towards making my blog what it is. Please accept my nomination for the VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD. Please visit my blog for details. Congratulations 🙂

4 06 2013
nitty-gritty

I’m blessed once more with your love story once more. God’s grace is indeed sufficient everyday. God bless you more! 🙂

4 06 2013
nitty-gritty

And oh, happy anniversary! 🙂

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks! I never thought I’d see the day! 😉
\o/

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

I love His grace! Thanks for your comment!
\o/

4 06 2013
nitty-gritty

Oh, sorry for the redundancy of my comment, didn’t notice it 🙂

5 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

I hate it when that happens to me! 🙂
\o/

4 06 2013
Kari Anne Dorstad

Happy anniversary. Thank you God for continually picking us up and giving us new opportunities to move in your direction..

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Kari. I love the grace and mercy of our Lord!

\o/

4 06 2013
dianarasmussen

Os sis, I love your honesty. You are not alone, I took the same path. I as well am on #4. We just celebrated 5 years. Happy Early Anniversary! God does restore all things, doesn’t he?

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Five years is awesome!!!!

Oh yes, He does restore …and gives back the years the locusts have eaten, as well. Ours is a good and great God. Um hmm!
\o/

4 06 2013
melanie jean juneau

they never tell the engaged couples thr truth, even in Christian marriage prep.see

When Marriage Feels Like a Meat Grinder http://themotherofnine9.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/when-marriage-feels-like-a-meat-grinder/

the Tetter-Totter Syndrome
http://themotherofnine9.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/the-teeter-totter-syndrome/

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Melanie:
I’m so glad you directed me to your bog. These two articles were so good that I added the links to my post…scientia est potentia! Let’s get people educated, I say!

\o/

4 06 2013
melanie jean juneau

very honoured

4 06 2013
vonhonnauldt

“after the wedding comes the marriage” How true. Maybe we need more “marriage planners,” and fewer “wedding planners.”

Divorce has never been an option for my wife and me. She told me that if we ever got divorced, I got the kids 😉 They’re grown and gone now.

Happy and blessed coming anniversary.

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Hey – maybe I could make that a business…The Marriage Planner! Oooh…scary territory, that!

Thanks for your kind wishes!
\o/

4 06 2013
SheddingLightOnDarkness

I just love reading your posts

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I just love writing them…never know where the Lord is going to take me each day! It’s fun to be in His service, isn’t it? 🙂
\o/

4 06 2013
Christina

Happy early anniversary. This December will be 8 years for my hubby and I. 🙂

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Every anniversary is a reason to celebrate…especially in a world where divorces are rising.

🙂

4 06 2013
Christina

That is very true! I told my husband that divorce is not an option. He is stuck with me until he dies, even if I’m the one to do it. Haha of course, we know I’m just kidding but we both feel that divorce is not an option. We have prayed and worked through many things.

4 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

🙂
\o/

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