Editor’s note: The following post is the testimony of Rob and Janette and how getting a clear understanding of the gospel saved their marriage.
Rob and I were married in October 2003. We had dated for almost two years before we took this step. Our dating years had quite a few rocky moments, but we were young and in love and went ahead with getting married. We were both Christians, but certainly not living like it. We had met during college, both of us quite heavily involved in the party scene. We didn’t have as much time for partying once we got married and were both working full-time, in fact, we didn’t have much time for each other either. In our first year of marriage, we literally passed each other in the hallway as one of us was coming home and the other was headed to work. So as a result, we did not fight a lot in the first year.
We decided that having opposite careers was not healthy for our marriage, so I quit my job and got a regular, Monday–Friday, 9–5 job. That is when we really discovered what it was like to live together and that is when the fighting really began. Rob really struggled with his “inherited” temper during our disagreements. In reality we were both very driven individuals and when it came to disagreements, we both had our own way of stubbornly driving our heels into the ground. Often our disagreements were a power struggle, and neither of us was willing to give up our selfish issues.
We tried so many different ways to fix our marriage. Every time after we had a fight we would talk for hours about how each of us could do better next time and “try harder” not to make the other one mad. We tried many different kinds of counselling books; they taught us to stop pushing each other’s buttons, to give each other warnings that the other had pushed our buttons, and how to share with each the other what bothers us about the other person. But it never worked for very long before we were right back to our fighting. After about two years of constant fighting, we were emotionally exhausted. We both loved each other, but were feeling very hopeless. I felt like I could not live the rest of my life like this and if it wasn’t for my faith, I would have left him.
During this time, we started attending a church in Airdrie, Alberta. We were still living a double life in many ways; we were the classic “Sunday Christians.” It was here that Rob met a man named Paul Humphreys. He worked as a missionary for GoodSeed International and he invited Rob to a seminar they were having that would go through the Bible from Creation to the Cross. Rob went and enjoyed it so much, he kept telling me I had to go to one and that he understood so much more about God now. I just thought, I have been going to church my whole life—what can they possibly tell me that I don’t know already? After a year of Rob trying to convince me to go to a seminar, I finally took the time off work to go to one.
I remember sitting there during the whole seminar in awe—I had been a Christian since I was six and I knew all the stories and all the right answers, but now I actually understood. It was like the pieces of a puzzle that had been scattered my whole life were finally put together!
There is power in understanding, and that statement has never been truer for anyone than it was for us! Through the next two years, God worked a miracle in our marriage. I still find it so strange that after trying everything else, our last resort was turning to God, the only One who has the power to restore broken relationships. I remember one night after we had another big fight, Rob stayed up for hours and he wrote down verses in the Bible that talked about love. Our focus slowly changed from pointing at each other and what we were doing wrong, to falling on our knees before a God who loved us, admitting that we were totally helpless to fix our marriage on our own.
Ironically, all those “self help” marriage techniques we tried accomplished the exact opposite of helping our marriage; ultimately they focused on conforming the marriage relationship to serve and justify our “selfish” attitudes and focus on each other’s faults more than focusing on our own. But now, we moved our focus onto the Lord and on his Word. We focused on serving Him and on sharing the reason why we believe what we believe. And all the issues in our marriage, we can honestly say we don’t know what happened to them—they just disappeared. It’s not that our marriage became perfect but the issues that bothered us weren’t important anymore as we focused on God. What became important was serving the Lord. And the Lord, somehow, some way, put us back together.
When we look back at where we started and then at where we are at today, we are in awe of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives. There is no way we can personally take any credit for the work God has done in our lives—to God be the glory!