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Couple Rebuilds Marriage with Freedom from the Past

“They told me basically in one moment that I wasn’t worth anything. And so I think that I had to –I believed the lie that I was worthless.”

At the age of twelve, Deb says her happy childhood was ripped away when two neighborhood boys raped her. “I was just so ashamed of who that meant I was. I certainly couldn’t tell my parents and I couldn’t tell anyone. I just kept it to myself and then tried to reevaluate and restructure my identity based on this –this new thing. This now must be who I am. I made that vow that I was never going to be that girl that got taken advantage of that day in my friends’, you know, living room.”

Deb struggled to control her identity and became promiscuous to numb her pain. After college she married Jeff who was unaware of her past.  Jeff says, “I think the greatest expectation I had was once I got married, that was it. I’m never going to get a divorce, divorce being such a painful thing. And I don't know why this was in my heart, but I asked her, she can do anything to me or against me, but please don’t ever cheat on me. That was the thing that I asked her not to do.” Early in the marriage Jeff poured himself into his career as a military fighter pilot—instead of his family, he says, “I was not a good husband. I didn't really know how to be a husband. I was very inattentive to Deb. I was about as distant as a husband could be.”

Deb looked for acceptance outside of her marriage and had several affairs and one night stands. She says, “I was just miserable in my own sin. But I didn’t see a way out of it because I was so miserable in my life. And I didn’t see any way out of anything.”

For nearly two decades, Jeff and Deb were trapped in a downward spiral. Jeff remembers, “There were probably signs before I even found out that, you know, there’s something wrong with our marriage, I think deep down, I was just going to try to ignore whatever problems that I thought we had.”     

Deb says, “Jeff and I had had a bad marriage. We did not have a good marriage—we both put a lot of bad into it. We had no relationship. We didn’t like each other.”

In 2001 Deb’s long-term affair with a man at their church became public. Jeff remembers, “This was the bottom of my despair at this time. And I said, ‘God, I don’t think I can continue doing this anymore.’ And I said, ‘you know, either Deb or I, If You could just take one of us, that this would be over.’

Deb says, “I chose sin over and over again. And I was miserable—I remember looking down on the ground while he was just sitting across from me and there was a pool of tears on the floor, just I couldn’t stop crying.”

But, in Jeff’s determination not to divorce, he let Deb stay in the house. In desperation and out of options, they each turned to the God they had both met as children. “I kept trying to run away from Him,” says Deb, “But He never left me. And He never stopped loving me no matter what I did, and that His love for me would never change. And I knew it that fast. And everything changed that minute.”

Jeff says, “I began to think about it and began to ponder it and I started to understand that the grace of God toward me and all the—all the sin that I’ve had in my life and the forgiveness that He gave me in my life, who am I to say I can’t forgive someone for what they’ve done to me.”

As Jeff and Deb started praying and reading the Bible separately--God began to speak to them both about their marriage. Deb says, “I was getting my eyes off of Jeff, who I was trying to make Jesus all those years, and putting it rightfully on the only Jesus that actually it should have been on the whole time.”

Jeff says, “And when we took our eyes off each other and started looking toward Christ. He began to satisfy me and give me joy that I’d never had before.”

Deb says, “So we were both being transformed together, but separately.”

“She began to serve me in ways she never served me before. And she did it in a way that she had never done before. And that’s little things. And I think little things add up,” says Jeff.

“We were walking through the parking lot of Home Depot and he reached out and grabbed my hand,” says Deb. “I think it’s because he claimed me in that parking lot. After all the things I’d done to him, and after all that we’d ever been through. In the middle of that big parking lot in front of all those people, Jeff reached out and claimed me. And I fell so much in love with him right then. And it was the first day of the rest of our lives. And, you know, only God can do that.”

Jeff and Deb rebuilt their marriage on the foundation of Christ and Deb is now a Christian author and speaker. In her new book ‘the lies that bind’ she helps others find freedom from their past and a new identity in Christ. The couple says they are grateful to God for allowing their story to help others. Jeff says, “I wouldn’t know God like I know God now. I wouldn’t realize the love of Christ like I do now had I not gone through those things. But all I can say is the love of Christ, it’s in me and that’s the way I love my wife now.”

“My identity is in –is always in Christ,” says Deb. “My identity is certainly not in the things that I have done or my identity is certainly not in the things that people have done to me. Who I am is the bride of Christ. My identity is Jesus. He is – everything He is, is in me. And that is such a beautiful, freeing thing. Because what He did for Jeff and I is nothing short of magic miraculous. I love Jeff. I love him in ways I never loved him before. God does so much. He is –He is a miracle working God. It is – there’s nothing He can’t do. If He can raise the dead to life, my word, He can certainly restore your marriage.” 

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