Our first guest post will be from my darling mother, Christine Clore. She is my go-to on marriage. Her insight and perception into marriage problems and how to resolve conflicts are astounding. She and my dad are now very happily married, but it wasn’t always this way. They now both have a deep heart for marriages. They don’t want their story to be kept secret, because it is in the darkness of secrecy and isolation that the devil can get a foothold.
I asked my mother, who is more of an editor than a writer, if she would share her story with us. While she did have to think about it for a while and talk it over with my dad, she finally sent me a typed up testimony. I hope you will be blessed, encouraged, and find renewed strength.
From Christine Clore:
“I will not go into detail regarding our thirty-three years of marriage. Every marriage has its ups and downs, and mine were no different from those of many others. Circumstances may be different, but the outcomes are familiar to many of us: lack of quality alone time together whether due to careers, hobbies, or children; a slow disengagement from the intimacy of marriage; decisions made without regard to the other spouse; hurt; anger; and finally, emotional withdrawal.
There were years that I pretended in my own mind as though I was the housekeeper or secretary to keep my innermost being from being hurt as my husband did things that he wanted to do and did not care at all how I felt about any of his selfish decisions. My opinions did not matter, because I did not matter. I understood, with great sadness and disillusionment, that for some time in our marriage, my husband did not care about me. Nothing I could do broke through his barrier, because he wanted to do as he pleased. It was the cause of many fights.
I, like many others, have been in a very difficult marriage. And yet, now, my husband is obviously deeply in love with me. He struggles with the words to convey the love he now feels for me. He looks at me that “certain way.” I can see it in his eyes–that love he holds in his heart for me. I can sense it in the tenderness and care he shows for me. I am also in love with him. For the first time in long while, we are really in love with each other. It is a miracle.
We have a romantic love and passion now that was once in our marriage and then lost through neglect and independent behavior. Romantic love is a feeling. We don’t decide our feelings. Our feelings just ARE. When we are in love with someone, it is because they are doing the very things that we love the most–they are meeting our most intimate emotional needs. They avoid hurting us with selfish demands, disrespectful judgments, and angry outbursts. The relationship is integrated and transparent. Each finds it easy and enjoyable to meet the emotional needs of the other.
It truly is a miracle that my husband and I have come to this day. We have been to hell and back in our marriage. Like many other hurting people, we had no idea how to fix what had gone so terribly wrong. Marriage counseling can be helpful, but according to an article in MarriageBuilders.com, marriage counselors have an 84% rate of failure and a higher divorce rate than the average population. The truth is that most marriage counselors have no idea how to restore the romantic love in a marriage. Many believe that romantic love is impossible to retain anyway. A marriage counselor can teach a couple how to communicate better and to resolve conflicts well; however, no one in love wants a divorce. Plenty of people who can communicate well and resolve conflicts fall out of love and get divorced.
I realize now that I was not alone in my private agonies and disillusionment. According to Dr. Willard Harley, author of several books on marriage, including best-selling “His Needs, Her Needs”, out of any one hundred marriages, about forty end in divorce. Another twenty are permanently estranged from each other. A further twenty live together in marriage but aren’t happy. Incredibly, he found that only twenty percent of all married couples actually describe themselves as happy. Isn’t that amazing? Considering how very hopeful and in love we are when we walk down that aisle to join our husbands and repeat our vows, I find it astounding that just a fifth of all marriages are actually happy.
I want to encourage anyone in a difficult marriage to understand that a great marriage is possible. It will take more than prayer, more than hope. It will take very good marriage counseling, if you can find such a one, and a plan of restoration. One person can help prime the pump, but it takes two people to have a great marriage.
Briefly, I will share with you how we restored the love in our marriage to a degree neither of us thought was possible. With a plan, we figured out the things we were doing that hurt each other. We then stopped all arguing, all fighting, all harsh words, all angry outbursts. They were no longer allowed in our marriage. We would no longer roll our eyes at each other, make rude comments, or act in any disrespectful way. Never again would there be any kind of deception whether by outright fraud or by omission of the truth, which leads to false impressions.
We agreed that for the remainder of our life together, we would make all decisions jointly. Neither of us would do anything without the enthusiastic agreement of the other. The way we arrive at our joint decisions helps us resolve our differences and to become more compatible. We find better solutions after brain-storming together.
The next task was to learn exactly what makes each of us happy and feel loved. Many women want their husbands to show their love by being affectionate and conversing on an intimate level with them. Many men want their wives to join them in their recreational activities and to enjoy mutually fulfilling sexual experiences on a regular and frequent basis. We started meeting each other’s emotional needs in such a way that we had never accomplished before, with amazing results. It built up the love we had for each other.
And, the foundation of our “new” marriage was the decision that from here on out, we would schedule plenty of time alone together every single week doing those above activities. This time would take precedent over everything else. And so it has for the most part. The times when we missed out due to work, social schedules, or something else were hard-felt.
There is so much more I could say, but I will close now by simply saying that with a plan of restoration committed to and followed by both spouses, there is hope for a difficult marriage.”
For questions or help please write Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org.