by Tom Pounder
“I want a separation.” Those weren’t exactly the type of words I was expecting from my wife at the time. We had issues but we were working through them.
As tough as it was to hear those words, I was convinced this marriage wasn’t over! I was the family pastor at my Church at this time and “family” pastors don’t get separated! So, I believed that with us continuing to go to counseling, which we had been doing for about a year, that we would work through it and make it out a better couple.
I started reading books and tried the 40 Love Dares I found while watching “Fireproof.” I knew those things would help me win her back . . . I just knew it!
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
It would be another three years before my divorce was final in large part due to court delays. It was a really low point in my life in many ways as I processed so much about what had happened and how I could have changed myself and the outcome.
What I learned through this experience is something I feel strongly about sharing with married couples; especially those married couples in ministry going through tough times.
Now, you’re probably thinking, Why should I listen to something a divorced man has to say about marriage? Well, Warren Buffett once said: “When people tell me they’ve learned from experience, I tell them the trick is to learn from other people’s experience.” So, learn from my experience. Here’s some of what I learned, as well as some of what I did that I could’ve done more of:
- Tough times will happen! Acknowledge it, accept it and don’t be surprised when it happens. In fact, try to communicate well with your spouse even more when the tough times come.
- Never stop pursuing your spouse’s heart. Remember your vows. Remember, “for better, for worse.” We all know there are more bad times than we wish. But, remember, the two of you are not enemies, you are partners who made a vow . . . to each other . . . no matter how tough it got. Don’t turn on each other.
- Focus on God. It could get to a situation where, like me, you have no control. Regardless of the control (or lack of control) you have, remember to FOCUS on God. He is the only one who can guide you through it.
- Take a step back and evaluate what God may be trying to teach you through this hard moment. I know it’s hard, but had Joseph thrown in the towel when he went through all of his tough times, who knows what would have happened to Egypt and Israel. You can learn a lot, if you take a step back and ask God what He is trying to show you.
Though I tried with all of the effort and prayer I could evoke—I didn’t go down without fighting for my wife’s heart—I wasn’t able to save my marriage. But God brought me through it and He is using me.
I pray that your tough time ends in a growing experience for your life and that God uses it in a mighty way, for both of you, together, as a testimony of what marriage should be like.
With over 15 years of full-time youth ministry experience, Tom Pounder has successfully built small- to medium-sized ministries and has gained practical experience in impacting our youth with limited resources. Now, Tom serves as the student ministry pastor at New Life Christian Church in Centreville, VA. You can learn more about Tom at YMSidekick.com or follow him on Twitter.