Five Lessons that Saved My Marriage

Foster Care & Family

There was a time I thought I’d never make it. But, in just a few months, I’ll be celebrating my tenth year wedding anniversary! It is said that tin or aluminum best represent the tenth year of marriage because these metals reflect the resilience and tougher-than-nails strength of a marriage. Since the average length of marriages that end in divorce is eight years, I suppose it’s safe to say, Scott and I somehow made it over the hump! 

I think I have a marriage story that is far from ordinary. Like every other aspect of my life (so it seems), there are several qualities that make my marriage unique, special, and extraordinary. My hopes in sharing my story is to encourage you. To either wait for the right person before saying, “I do.” Or, for those of you who are married and possibly feeling unhappy, scared, or even lonely~ I want you to know, that I have been there. More importantly, there is hope!

My marriage to Scott is a relationship that is working against all odds. Perhaps that’s where I should start. By telling you how much Scott and I had (and still have) working against us.

First off, I met Scott a few years after my first marriage ended in divorce. It was so difficult, partly because I had undiagnosed health issues. Once I finally got settled, I became comfortable with being single and unattached. I loved having my space! I was happy in my career, as a school administrator. I believed that I had everything I wanted and needed. A beautiful townhouse. An ocean view condo down the shore. A convertible BMW. So, upon meeting Scott and falling in love with him, I wasn’t in the best place to fully commit. 

But, that’s usually how it goes, right? We find what we want or need when we are not looking.

Saved My Marriage
Our First Summer, Dating. We loved the beach!

Saved My Marriage

Scott and I fell in love, quickly. We both believed (and still do) that it was an extraordinary bond that we had from the start. I’ll never forget our first encounter. It was a beautiful summer evening, down the shore. At a beach restaurant with an outdoor deck bar. We were both with friends, but we somehow stood out to each other.  

At first, I thought Scott was interesting. He was very laid back and calming. I liked that. We talked for a few hours and it was just easy and nice. We were both transparent and open in our conversation. In spite of us both seeing other people, we both confessed how we felt. That “something was missing”.

I gave him my phone number, but I was reluctant that anything would come of it. He was ten years younger than me! (Even though he looks older than his actual age.) Our first date was more like, “Let’s just hang out and see how it goes.” But, I knew~ Just walking by Scott’s side, that summer night in Philadelphia. I was meant to be there. Right by his side.

We had a whirlwind summer, together. Eight months later, we eloped.

Saved My Marriage
Actually, this was one of the happiest days of my life.

Aside from the age difference, Scott and I had other differences. I was set in my career, and Scott was still trying to determine what he wanted to do. I was a Christian and Scott was Jewish. I liked to spend my weekends going to the gym and getting caught up on house stuff and errands. I never had the time or energy to do much else, other than work, during the week. Scott could turn that all off. He preferred having spontaneity!

Shortly after we got married. Together for a year. The first 2 years felt like a bumpy hot-air balloon ride, for real!
Right before we eloped. Scott took me out on Valentine’s Day. We went out for the whole day!

It didn’t take long for Scott to become frustrated with how consumed I was with work. I began to feel that we were not connecting and unknowingly became detached. It’s rather astonishing how fast things can become complacent. And, all those things you originally loved become a nuisance! 

On top of that, I was still dealing with the same undiagnosed health issues. I was always feeling tired and overwhelmed. Scott felt that I was not letting myself truly commit to him. We were both holding back, a lot! Trust was nonexistent those first few years. 

In my first marriage, when things started going south, I didn’t exactly handle things very…maturely. I was still young and had some growing up (on my own) to do. The answer for me, back then, was to just escape the problem. During my marriage trials with Scott, I felt the tables had turned. I was escaping by closing off my heart. Scott was escaping by physically leaving. 

Anyway, I recall my first informal counseling session with my pastor and his wife. It was after I indirectly caused Scott to leave for a while. Rather than chase him, I decided to work on myself. I’ll always be grateful that I reached out to them, because I honestly feel that God worked through them in a way that saved my marriage to Scott. (These days, too many people will offer the wrong advice. If it’s not biblically sound, don’t take it!)

After telling my pastor everything about my marriage and how (in my mind) doomed it was, I was certain they would tell me to run for the hills! But, he and his wife shared something with me that I’ll never forget.

The Love Chapter. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Sure, I’d heard of it. But, I never took it seriously. They told me to memorize it! In doing so, I realized that I was lacking and perhaps not loving Scott the way I should. At one point, I asked God to help me see Scott the way He saw Him. I almost fell into the trap of resentment and a hardened, unforgiving heart. I didn’t want to go there again. After just a few sessions with my pastor and his wife, and some heartfelt prayers, God began to do a number on my heart. 

Things didn’t improve overnight, but my marriage began to heal and flourish. Like a dying plant, coming back to life with so much potential to thrive.

I’d like to share some of the lessons that I learned during those first few rocky years of marriage. I want to encourage you that every marriage goes through difficult seasons. Some relationships may not have a boiling point. But, then again, there may not be enough passion nor love there. I believe God wants us to have a marriage that represents His love for us. (Referenced as “the church” in the bible.) It’s a ferocious love. One literally worth dying for!

Five Lessons that Saved My Marriage

Disclaimer: I am not providing marital advice. These are personal lessons, from my own personal experience, that has helped my marriage during difficult times. I have no experience in dealing with an abusive relationship. If you are in a toxic or abusive relationship, I would urge you to talk to a professional counselor. 

1.) Marriage is symbolic of God’s relationship with the Church. 

Why is this such an important lesson? Because in learning about God’s behaviors and attitude towards his creation (which, let’s face it, is far from perfect) helps us understand what true, unconditional, deeply committed love really is! This is the kind of love that God wants us to have in our marriage relationships. And, quite frankly, this is the ONLY kind of love that will sustain a marriage to the very end. 

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… Ephesians 5:25

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

2.) LOVE is not receiving. It’s giving. It’s a conscious choice that God commands. 

Wow. I feel ashamed to admit this. But, I thought that love was something I could control based upon how I was treated. And, how I felt! That’s not the LOVE that God instructs us to have for one another. Regardless of how we feel about our spouse (remember, feelings can change even throughout one day!) we can still CHOOSE to love. It’s what we said we would do when we made our marriage commitment. Think about the phrase, “I promise to love you in good times and bad times.” 

If your marriage is struggling it could be because you do not have LOVE in your heart. Not the love that God instructs us to have. But, the good news is that you can choose to love your spouse. You can ask God to work in your heart so that you are free to love. It’s as simple as that. 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

3.) It only takes one person to save a marriage. 

What this means is that if one leaves, but the other remains committed, he/she has a good chance in seeking favor from God to restore the marriage! Why? Because, when a man and woman join together in marriage, they become one flesh. A husband has authority over his wife, and vice versa. So, rather than waiting for your spouse to get it together, YOU can take the initiative and pray to God to help save your marriage!

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

I knew that it was up to God to save my marriage. But, I did my part, on my knees and in prayer. Every day! Even though (at this particular time) Scott was the one who was losing all faith that it could work. I kept my focus on God, His word and promises. I also declared these truths. That Scott was my husband, and I had a God-given authority in praying for him. 

4.) LOVE hopes for all things. 

I remember feeling so hopeless when things got really hard, in my marriage. Before I memorized the LOVE Chapter, I didn’t know how important HOPE really was. But, that’s the thing. It’s very symbolic to our faith. We need to trust and believe in who God is and what He can do. Not to mention, His word tells us that Love hopes for all things! A hopeless attitude is not coming from God! 

Saved my marriage

What a relief it was after making the decision to hope for a beautiful marriage. Even when things appeared so depressing! I was able to look past it all. Yes, there were times and temptations to regress back to that feeling of hopelessness! (That’s what the devil wants.) Staying connected to God and His Word is what made me stronger. I literally felt a peace in my heart when I had an attitude of hope. After all, if we are loving our spouse the way we are supposed to love, this should come hand-in-hand. 

5.) Always stand ready to forgive. 

Oh, man. I initially had such a hard time with this! If I felt hurt, I would immediately reflect on the time before, that I was hurt. It would make me feel even more angry. There was no room for forgiveness. 

In one of my counseling sessions with my pastor and his wife, I mentioned how there were so many things Scott and I may never get passed. Their response? “You must stand ready to forgive. In fact, tell Scott that you are ready to forgive.” Here are a few bible verses about forgiveness. As you can see, it is more than a choice. It’s a command.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22

I don’t remember how and when I said it, but I made it clear to Scott that I loved him. I was committed to our marriage. And, I was hopeful that it could be fixed. And, I was ready to forgive. And, forget! (That’s the part many of us don’t do. But, it’s part of the forgiveness process.)

My marriage did not improve overnight. But, it started to, the moment that I decided to apply some of these lessons. More importantly, as my relationship with God improved along with my understanding of His word, my heart became free to do all those things to make me a better wife. In a nutshell…

  • Love, unconditionally
  • Love, intentionally
  • Fight for the marriage. 
  • Always Hope (Believe in the potential of the marriage.)
  • Forgive and Forget

Marriage is such a blessing that God created for us to enjoy. But, like anything, it’s not all peaches and cream. Anyone going into a marriage thinking that there will never be challenges and bad times is only fooling themselves. (Or, not acknowledging the reality.) 

Scott and I have a good marriage. The first two years were rocky (with many highs in there, as well, I might add). But, in hindsight, these trials helped strengthen our love for one another. We are far more deeply committed than before. Not to mention, now as foster parents, with even greater highs and lows, we are more equipped to work together. We are a force to be reckoned with! 

Of course. We still get on each other’s nerves. We still have a lot of differences. We still argue from time to time. But, at the end of the day, we made a commitment to love one another through good times and bad times. I’m glad I finally yielded and made the decision to fight for my marriage. 

I leave you with the lyrics of a song, from a movie that is totally worth watching! It’s called Fireproof

Love Is Not a Fight
Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
And then commit
To never leave
So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees
Love is a shelter
In a raging storm
Love is peace
In the middle of a war
If we try to leave
May God send angels
To guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for
To some love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they’re falling out
Keeping their word is hard to do
Love is a shelter
In a raging storm
Love is peace
In the middle of a war
If we try to leave
May God send angels
To guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for
Love will come to save us
If we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all
Love is a shelter
In a raging storm
Love is peace
In the middle of a war
If we try to leave
May God send angels
To guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for
I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It’s worth fighting for
Songwriters: Warren Harding Barfield Jr.

Love Is Not a Fight lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group

It is my prayer for you that you will choose to live an extraordinary life, regardless of your circumstances. It is also my prayer that you will choose to love your spouse and stay committed to your marriage, regardless of your circumstances. Be blessed, my friend.

Rachel Scheyer


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