True Confession: Why I’ve Been Reluctant to Write About My Marriage
[Ronnie King of Little Compton, R.I., is the winner of last week’s giveaway of the marriage devotional Wife After God by Jennifer Smith. Congratulations! Read to the end for this week’s book giveaway. Next week’s post comes by request: My 7 Goals for 70!]
So…about the title of this post.
It might appear to be clickbait, but I can assure you it’s not. In the 15+ years I’ve been penning these posts, first as “Tuesdays with Maggie” and currently as “Views from the Ridge,” I have rarely if ever talked about my marriage.
Because I tend to be a blabbermouth who’s generally not shy about confessing my worst faults, fears, and failures, the omission might seem puzzling. Even suspicious.
In faith-based publishing, writers are continually reminded to speak to the “felt needs” of readers. I know that many of you are struggling with painful circumstances: health concerns, wayward children, financial strain, families pulled apart by divisive issues.
Others are dealing with the deep sadness and disappointment that comes with a marriage that has ended through death or divorce. Some who remain married are fighting their way back from betrayal, infidelity, or a spouse’s addictions.
So why have I been reticent to write candidly about Mike, my husband of 47 years?
Just this: he is proof positive that good men who love their wives as sacrificially as Christ loved the Church do live in some of our homes.
One lives in mine.
At an extended writers’ wellness retreat in Texas last week, I was talking with my friend Pam Farrel, best-selling author of over 50 books and an international speaker on marriage and family through Love-wise, the ministry she shares with husband Bill. (Pam and Bill are the authors of the mega-hit Men Are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti – heard of it?) The Farrells have forged their way through challenging life circumstances to build a ministry that impacts tens of thousands around the globe.
Pam and I were grieving over the painful stories shared by others at the retreat - women who have been brutally betrayed by husbands addicted to pornography, drugs and alcohol, or relationships with other women. One bestselling author is enrolled in the equivalent of a witness protection program so that her abusive ex-husband cannot locate her.
As we chatted, I commented how incredibly blessed we are to have husbands totally committed to God, their wives, families, and ministry to others.
But how, I asked Pam, can I publicly share what it’s like to be married to a godly man of integrity? Wouldn’t that be insensitive to those who have been deprived of such a relationship? Better, perhaps, to keep silent about a healthy marriage and empathize with those who are suffering.
Coffee mug in hand, Pam listened carefully, smiling. I knew a bit of her story.
Raised by a single mother, Pam is the first-born daughter of an alcoholic father with severe rage issues. She often thought their family would make the headlines but for all the wrong reasons. When she was eight, a family friend saw the chaos they were living in and invited them to attend church with her. It was there that Pam saw first-hand what real love looked like.
“Maggie,” she responded thoughtfully, “what if you and I never talked or wrote about what a healthy Christian marriage can look like? What if young women like me who grew up in an abusive home never hear how the love and power of Christ can transform lives? What if children are never shown by example that a joyful, trust-filled marriage is not only possible, but what God desires for us?”
As she spoke, I thought back to when Mike and I marked 25 years together in 2001. All five children we were raising were teenagers at the time, and together we decided to plan a Silver Celebration at our church that the kids could fully participate in. Our oldest son spoke, a daughter sang, and the others ushered and passed out roses to their grandparents who were present.
Two of our kids had come out of a family where their battling parents had routinely summoned the police to their home. One parent exhibited signs of mental illness exacerbated by severe substance abuse; the other engaged in behavior that eventually sent her to prison. Now in their mid-teens, our bonus kids had never witnessed a loving marriage.
So we decided to plan a celebration that by example would demonstrate its importance.
During our Silver Celebration, I addressed our 16-year-old daughters. “As you date and consider future marriage partners, don’t ever settle for a man of any caliber less than your father. Please wait until God shows you who that is.”
And to our three sons I gave the same caution: “You are blessed to have Dad as your role model, as he had Poppa. Poppa’s father was not such a man, but his son - your grandfather - made the choice to love Jesus and be faithful to his wife, and your dad has followed his example. Don’t ever settle for being a man less than one like your father.”
When I shared this with Pam, she nodded. At the risk of sparking sadness or envy in some who have not experienced marriage to a spouse of integrity, we should not remain silent.
And as for those lacking a spouse who can serve as a healthy role model for their children? We better step up, friends, and come alongside them in physical and spiritual support.
How about those married for years who have regrets about their past actions, or those of their spouse? It’s never too late. God is the God of the Second Chance.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” C. S Lewis
Yes, a healthy marriage takes two, but you can start with one.
Know someone whose marriage could use helpful counsel? New England writer, speaker, and marriage coach Dorothy Littell Greco, author of Making Marriage Beautiful, has donated a copy of her new book Marriage in the Middle: Embracing Midlife Surprises, Challenges, and Joys. This resource casts a clear, healthy vision for marriage in the second half of life. Click here for a peek inside.
To win a copy, please leave a comment below and include the word “marriage” so I know you wish to enter the drawing.
Next week at your request: Maggie’s 7 Goals for 70!
Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, speaker, and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. She is the author of This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others, and her new book Life is Sweet, Y'all: Wit and Wisdom with a Side of Sass.