*Written by guest blogger Bri Waldridge.
For years, my marriage had been dying. Financial pressures, too little time together, and a porn addiction had gradually and thoroughly chipped away any intimacy Jeremy and I shared.
If I were to compare my love for my husband to a candle, the flame grew very dim and weak. I never let the flame go completely out, however, because I never completely gave up hope that things would change.
And in 2011, things did change. But not in a good way.
My husband publicly humiliated me. He was at the center of a scandal – and I was dragged right along with him. He entered a new chapter of life that I did NOT want to enter with him. He had a new label that I did not want attached to me in any way. He lied to me, even after I thought he had hit rock bottom. I had no respect for him, and a whole lot of resentment.
The candle went out. What little flame had been left was now dead.
I was pretty sure that if I opted for divorce, no one would blame me – not even God. And yet, with no marital affection left, with the freedom to choose divorce as a valid option, I moved slowly. I wanted to honor God with my decision. And divorce brings Him no honor.
Forgiveness brings Him honor. Reconciliation brings Him honor.
God says that reconciliation is worth pursuing. So much so that He pursued it Himself, with us, to the point of death. As the recipient of such love, how could I not give God’s way a try?
Reconciliation takes two, and at first I hinged our reconciliation on my husband. I was not willing to be married to a man with the same old issues who refused to change. But if Jeremy would do his part and make the changes he needed to make, if he began to follow God sincerely, I thought I would naturally do my part and be reconciled to him.
Jeremy did his part. He became a better man than he had ever been before.
But I learned that a dead heart naturally does … nothing. My candle was still out. Jeremy’s changes were not enough for a dead flame to start burning again.
It seemed impossible. The rift in our relationship was so vast that we could never be close again. How could I ever trust him and respect him again? Marriage as God designed it seemed an unattainable goal for us.
But God excels at doing the impossible. His specialty is to take the ugly, the broken, the dead parts of our lives and make them alive again, more beautiful and more whole than ever before.
It took a long time for my heart to change. A loooonnnnnggggg time. It took a lot of hours in counseling. It took the honest, patient, generous, grace-filled support of a church family. It took a lot of tears and tough conversations. It took Jeremy sustaining behavior changes over a period of years (yes, YEARS) and me taking the risk of trusting, little by little.
But more than that, it took a miracle. God took my dead candle and set it on fire once more. He transformed the distance between us from a vast rift to the closeness that marriage is supposed to be.
I thought I would never again say that I’m glad I married Jeremy. And yet, I am, despite all the pain and heartbreak. I love Jeremy once again, and I’m really looking forward to spending the years to come with him.
And that is a miracle worth sharing.
A few sidenotes for my Westport family:
If you are in a dying marriage, please don’t wait to get help. We told ourselves we didn’t have the time or the money to get counseling, but the truth is that not getting help early on caused us years of heartache and cost us a significant amount of money in the long run. Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton offers counseling on a donation basis, so if money is an issue, give them a call.
If you are on the brink of divorce, ask yourself how to honor God with your decision. Allow time for heart change to happen. Because God can and does change hearts, and He glories in reconciling seemingly impossible relationships. But also know that staying in a dead marriage just because “divorce is wrong” brings God no glory either. Instead of worrying about what’s right or wrong, ask yourself how you can best honor God in your situation. That question is often a lot deeper than focusing on right or wrong – and it applies to any situation, not just marriage.
If you struggle with pornography or are the spouse of a porn addict, please don’t wait to get help. Addiction will never leave your life if you try to get rid of it on your own. You need support from others – it’s just the way addiction works. Contact Pure Life Alliance to get started.
And finally, if you were part of Westport when we dragged our scandal into your lives, thank you for responding with kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and grace. You lived out the gospel to anyone who was watching, and Jeremy and I are forever grateful for your love and friendship.