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Warming a Cold Marriage with Hope

Gayle remembers the early days of her marriage to Pat, “We were very much in love. He asked me three weeks after we met if I would marry him and I said yes.”

“We dreamed of serving God together. And we had a dream of having some sort of worldwide music ministry,” says Pat.

Pat and Gayle had high hopes when they married, but the daily responsibilities of work and family soon took a toll. Gayle says, “The dreams even we had of traveling the world together and, you know, singing for the Lord, none of those had happened. And so I felt –I think I took all that disappointment, all that hurt and I turned it towards Pat in a way because I connected him with those lost dreams.”

Pat says, “I wasn’t really aware of how bad things really were because it was that gradual. So I just got to a point where I thought well this is as good as it gets. This is just the way it is. This is the way it’s going to be. This is normal marriage.”

“I started focusing on the children,” says Gayle, “And my relationship with my husband became more of a business partnership.”

Pat pastored a church in Alaska and Gayle served as the worship leader. But as their ministry responsibilities increased, so did the tension at home. Pat says, “I always felt pressured to have a perfect marriage as a pastor. You’re an example. When marriages fail for pastors, it’s, you know, you’ve got to find a new career.”
 
Gayle says, “Pat and I couldn’t even be in the same room together. I mean, without arguing. There was constant arguing, fighting over things.”

“I was living downstairs; she was living upstairs,” says Pat. “We’d meet together in the kitchen, talk about things that we needed to talk about, then go about our lives.”

For years pat and Gayle went through the motions. But after a blowup on the day their daughter left for college, Gayle told Pat she’d had enough. “Everything I did was either for my children or for my husband or for the church, you know. I felt like I was gone. Like there was no me anymore. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I didn’t want to be married. I didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife anymore. That I was just done.”

Pat says, “That was the lowest moment. Because I never stopped loving my wife. I didn’t want my family to suffer divorce. And I heard God’s voice. And He said to me, come to Me and I will heal you.  And at one point I said, heal me? I don’t need to be healed. I need You to heal her!”

Pat heeded God’s voice, and in an attempt to find his own healing, met with a local Christian counselor and author Art Matthias and began reading his book, ‘Biblical Foundations of Freedom.’

Pat says, “In that book I learned that I needed to forgive. That if I was going to be obedient to Jesus and obedient to God, I had to learn how to really forgive people from my heart. Not only my wife, but everyone in my life that had hurt me. I began to pray for her. And I’d never really done that in my marriage, because as long as I was bitter, I wasn’t going to pray for her because the bitterness was blocking it. I started praying prayers with a little bit more authority of heaven behind them. You know, in the name of Jesus, Satan, you cannot have my family. You can’t have my wife. You need to get out of here and leave her alone. Some nights I went in to our bedroom, in the dark. I lay down on the floor by the bed and I prayed. I prayed silently so she couldn’t hear me but God could hear me.”

It didn’t take long for Gayle to notice there was something different about Pat.

“He wasn’t even fun to argue with anymore,” says Gayle. “Because I couldn’t get him to argue with me. I just started seeing these changes in him and so I asked him, I’m like what have you been doing? You’re giving me lots of space, which is good I needed that. You’re different, what’s going on?”

Pat says, “And I talked with her about forgiveness and I said I have a lot of things to fix in me and it’s not about you, it’s me. I had been trying to fix things by my might, my power and I was learning how to fix things by His spirit.”

Gayle began to seek God on her own—and to try to understand forgiveness in a new light.

“These things that I had been holding onto for years, all these things that had happened to me, I had the wrong focus of what was wrong. I thought Pat was the enemy, people in the church were the enemy, and even my family. I had seen them in the wrong way and that they were not the enemy. That I could forgive. And I just started feeling joy again. And it was such an amazing thing to feel this warmth and this love and this joy that I hadn't felt for years. Hope was springing up in me that my marriage could be saved.”

“She was becoming a new person. I watched it,” says Pat. “And I was like this is what I’ve been praying for. God was showing up and reworking her and me and it was beautiful. These were things that were new to us but they were Biblical. So what we’re really learning is we’re learning how to take the teachings in the Bible and make them real in our lives.”

Today, Pat and Gayle say their marriage has never been stronger.

“I never knew that it could be this good,” says Pat. “I never knew that this is what life could be like being married. She’s my best friend. And she’s my partner. And we face life together. And it’s awesome.”

Gayle says, “He’s the first one that when something happens to me, I want to share it with him. I have hope for our future together. I know that we will be together, you know, forever. I’m so thankful the God showed me the way, showed us the way of life and showed us how to live life together.”

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