“Can my marriage be saved?” was the question Mae Chambers was asking herself as she watched her world come tumbling down around her. What started out as a match made in heaven had become a living nightmare seven years later.
Drugs, alcohol, pornography and now another woman were taking their toll on the marriage. Mrs. Chambers sought counseling on several occasions in the past. Without exception the counselors told her not to fight the divorce her husband said he wanted.
“As crazy as it sounds, I honestly didn’t think divorce was the answer, but I absolutely knew things could not stay the same,” said Mrs. Chambers.
“I decided to give counseling one more try. Instead of focusing on all that my husband was doing to hurt our marriage, this counselor focused on me. While she did not suggest divorce, she did ask what role I played in the dysfunction in our marriage. Furious that the counselor clearly didn’t get the fact that I was the victim and John was at fault, I left the office not sure I would return.
“On the way home, I couldn’t get the question out of my mind. I began thinking about our seven years together, my selfishness, images of times I had been incredibly disrespectful and inconsiderate toward John, the ways I had contributed to our disconnectedness. I had been living life at such a fast pace doing what I thought was in the best interest of our family, I never paid attention to the warning signs that our relationship was in trouble.”
When Mrs. Chambers returned to her counselor she was referred to a “Standers” group, a weekly gathering of married people whose spouses had left them, either emotionally or physically. Nine months passed. Mrs. Chambers faithfully attended the meetings in spite of the fact that her husband was still resolute about the divorce.
“Every day of our marriage had become a collusion of two worlds,” said John Chambers. “At home I had become irrelevant. At work I was a successful corporate video writer-shooter-editor. I went to work each day convinced that I was God’s gift to women and the attention I received from my female co-workers confirmed that notion in my mind. This was attention I wasn’t getting at home.”
Then one night as Mr. Chambers was lying in bed at the place he was staying, which he referred to as “hell house,” questions began coming into his mind, ‘If you continue the alcohol abuse where will you be in five years?’ ‘If you continue the cocaine abuse where will you be in five years?’ ‘If you continue the adultery where will you be in five years?’ The answers to all of the questions led to a dead end for John.
“I am convinced God was asking me those questions,” said Mr. Chambers. “The final question I heard that night was, ‘Who loves you John?’ I knew the answer was that He did. Then He asked, ‘Who else loves you?’ It was at that point I realized my wife truly loved me. In that moment my idea of marriage was transformed from the image of a prison to a picture of Disneyland. Both places have walls. In prison you’re desperate to escape your confinement, but in Disneyland your inner child loves everything within the park’s boundaries so you beg your parents to let you stay.”
With help, the Chambers began the long journey of healing their marriage relationship.
“In the process of picking up the pieces, we realized we did not know one other couple who had been through what we were experiencing who could encourage us along the way,” said Mrs. Chambers. “As we became healthier and began to tell our story to others, we realized there are many hurting marriages and the fact that we have had a very troubled marriage and have come out the other side gives hope to these couples.”
As a result of her experience, Mrs. Chambers decided to write a book to give those in troubled marriages hope. Can My Marriage be Saved? is a compilation of 22 stories of couples who have been to the brink and were able to rebuild a solid, healthy marriage relationship.
“I think it is powerful when you talk with someone else who has walked in your shoes,” said Mrs. Chambers. “We have just celebrated 30 years of marriage. In the last 20 years we have spent a great deal of time mentoring hurting couples helping them to get their marriage back on track. If you are a couple in distress, my hope is that you will read this book and recognize that even when things are really bad, there is hope. It is important to surround yourself with healthy people who can give you wise counsel. During some of our most difficult times, I was shocked at the lack of resources available to couples. Now, there are tremendous resources out there, but couples often don’t know where to look so I have included a partial listing in the back of my book.”
If your marriage is in trouble there are ways to get it back on track.
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Copyright ©2010 First Things First
President & CEO
As a Certified Family Life Educator Julie writes and speaks on issues related to strengthening marriages and families.