How Did We Get Here?

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How did this storybook romance that started with such fireworks, so much connection and love, wind up with a husband fighting for his life at 420 lbs and a wife in rehab?

It’s so slow and subtle that we don’t even know it’s happening. But one day, we wake up and realize: We are roommates. We take care of daily responsibilities and check items off our relationship to-do list–we “make it work” but feel lonely and disconnected in our marriages. This disconnection, combined with the stress of life, can push us to self-medicate to try to fill the void in our hearts. Many of us end up compromising the integrity of our marriage through an emotional or physical affair, viewing porn, or numbing ourselves with a variety of things, like alcohol, drugs, sex, food, and technology, that can easily lead to addiction if left unaddressed. When our desire to feel connected goes unmet in our marriages, it can lead to unhealthy behaviors that can become more extreme over time. These things push us away from one another, creating a gap in our intimacy and connection in our marriages.

Jimmy and I have both fallen into the trap of self-medicating to fill the void in our marriage. When I say we “hit rock bottom,” I truly mean it. We looked like we had it all together on the outside: pastors leading a thriving church with amazing children, a beautiful home, a community where we were surrounded and loved. But on the inside, we were falling apart. We were each struggling emotionally and experiencing deep dysfunction in our communication and how we handled our stress. Alcohol became my crutch to cope, and over the course of 6 years, a glass of wine with dinner turned into a severe dependency and abuse of alcohol that was secretly causing havoc in our marriage and family. It was subtle until it was urgent. I didn’t even see it coming. I was doing life on autopilot and secretly numbing away my pain, not realizing I was becoming dependent on alcohol and had numbed even my good emotions.

On top of feeling isolated and alone in our marriage, childhood wounds and other trauma from our past started resurfacing. We felt like we were drowning in the insecurity of everything being dredged up, and we didn’t know how to process it all. We argued about alcohol all the time, and our marriage was in serious trouble. Jimmy eventually gave me an ultimatum: get help and go to rehab, or our marriage was over.

For Jimmy, he turned to food as a source of comfort to medicate the turmoil in our marriage and his own unhealthy emotional world, which led to his weight skyrocketing to 420 lbs. This impacted not only his physical health but his self-esteem and quality of life which impacted the entire family in many ways. Ultimately, Jimmy ended up in the hospital with congestive heart failure. We both hit rock bottom.

How did this storybook romance that started with such fireworks, so much connection and love, wind up with a husband fighting for his life at 420 lbs and a wife in rehab? On the brink of divorce, with our physical and mental health on the verge of collapse, we found ourselves asking God: How could this happen to us? How did we get here?

Your story may not be as dramatic or extreme as our situation. The consequences of unhealth and turmoil in your marriage may look different. But if you’re honest, do you find yourself asking the same question? How did we get here? How did our love story take such a drastic turn for the worse? And maybe now you’re wondering, “Where do we go from here?” We get it! You are not alone!

The good news is, you don’t have to stay there. God has healed our marriage in miraculous ways, and that same healing is available for you, too. You can restore and recover what has been damaged or lost in the dysfunction and crazy phases of marriage. Your love can be restored, and God can absolutely do a NEW THING! (Isaiah 43:19) The question is, are you ready to get honest? Are you willing to acknowledge your own contribution to the turmoil in your relationship and do something about it? God wants to do something new in your marriage, but you’re going to have to take extreme ownership of the part you play. This is the first step to radical change!

You may find that in order to really change the dysfunction you recognize in your marriage, you need help. That was definitely the case for us: marriage counseling to the rescue! Without a licensed therapist to help us unpack our issues and learn new ways of communicating, we wouldn’t have developed the skills we needed to navigate our way out of the valley. You don’t have to do this alone! Reach out for help, and create a plan for growth, healing, and development for both of you as individuals and together as a couple.

Believe me when I tell you that He will do more than you can ask, think, or imagine if you are willing to surrender this journey to Him.

I know this sounds like a lot of work, and honestly, it is. It will most definitely be hard–especially if you feel like you have several different issues to work through and aren’t really sure if you have the emotional capacity to deal with all of it. But Jimmy and I are here to tell you that the work is worth it! If you find yourself wading through some dark days in your marriage, know that you’re not alone and that there is absolutely hope! Our prayer for you is that as you navigate this season and ask God for the path forward, He will give strength to take ownership of your own dysfunction, accept the impact your issues have on your relationship, and do the work to heal. Believe me when I tell you that He will do more than you can ask, think, or imagine if you are willing to surrender this journey to Him. Trust God, and lean into the process. It will be worth it! Freedom, healing, happiness, and a deeper intimacy with God, yourself, and your spouse is on the other side of the work!

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