Whatever the struggle in your marriage is, don’t give up.
Tommy and I got married in 2003 after a short romance. We went to our engagement classes and kept saying, “We’re in love, we’re good! We’ve got this!” We didn’t know it at the time, but we both brought baggage to the altar, but because we didn’t address any of it, cracks started to show in our marriage early on.
Early on in our relationship, even while dating, Tommy would tell these little lies that caused pits in my gut, but I ignored them and pushed forward. He had a good heart, I loved his son from one of his two previous marriages, and since he’d been married before, I figured he knew what he was doing.
In January of 2005, we had a beautiful baby girl. After a hard pregnancy, I discovered Tommy was looking at pornography.
When Ginny and I married, I carried a lot of baggage from my childhood and from my two previous marriages. I’d been molested and introduced to pornography as a child and never told anyone. I didn’t know how to love a person or how to be married—I was convinced what I knew was the only way to get love. I’d grown up in a “Christian” family, but though my parents believed in God, they didn’t really live out a Christian life. By the time I’d met Ginny, I’d told God I was done with it all, but being around Ginny and her family, I’d always felt the presence of God. That planted a seed of faith in me.
After Ginny discovered how I broke her trust, I went to a retreat at church and thought I’d welcomed God into my life, but I was still just going through the motions. We started seeing a Christian counselor, and I finally revealed what happened to me as a child to Ginny. Unfortunately, I still dealt with a lot of selfishness, envy, bitterness, and darkness that I masked through the years. I lied a lot to cover up my own insecurities and my own fears that Ginny would leave me and our marriage behind. I never put God in a place where He could help me.
Tommy’s struggles caused a lot of stress in our marriage. The fights took a toll on me and brought out a side of myself I didn’t like seeing. Our marriage was a boat, but most of the time, I was rowing by myself. He’d get in periodically, we’d have a good moment, but then he’d lie, we’d fight, or there were even moments of marital rape. We were just stuck in this vicious pattern. I didn’t have the tools I needed to communicate my pain and desperation to him, so it all just came out in yelling.
About halfway through our marriage, I discovered Tommy was looking at porn again, so I confronted him. I had proof, but he still lied, and I was devastated all over again. All I could think was, Why would someone in my life who I love so much hurt me so much? I wondered if I should just get a divorce, but I realized that was the enemy, and I wouldn’t allow him to come in and make that an option.
Still, the arguments continued, and we got really good at letting people believe our marriage was great. But we hadn’t been intimate in years, and I’d gotten to a point where I could show affection to anyone but Tommy.
At some point, something told me marriage shouldn’t look like this. I started looking for marriage help and videos on Facebook and came across Jimmy Evans’s videos. Those messages spoke to me, but I knew Tommy wasn’t in a place where he would understand that something needed to change.
Eventually, I got worn out and exhausted from having to constantly fight the darkness he suffered and forgive him for the lies and the selfishness.
Everything got so bad that I went into a depression. I was battling hard, but the enemy was in my ear, and I fought suicidal thoughts and such deep darkness in my mind. For a third time, I started looking at porn again.
Fifteen years into our marriage, we hit a breaking point. My porn watching came back to haunt me—a scammer who had all my information and was blackmailing me. I admitted what happened to Ginny and called our counselor, who talked me off a suicidal ledge. She started sending us videos to help with our marriage.
Low and behold, it was the same videos of Jimmy Evans Ginny had been watching a few years before!
As we watched, I identified with Jimmy’s story, so we attended our first XO Conference in November of 2021. My transition to change in our marriage wasn’t clean, and it wasn’t fast. Ginny would try to tell me, “I love you. I’m not leaving you. I’m invested in God and in this marriage.” But I couldn’t get it through my mind that someone could see something in me and love me so deeply that they would not give up on me.
When we went to that first XO, I wasn’t as hopeful as I could have been—there had been too many lies until that point that I just didn’t believe in any change. But I just kept hearing God say, “Trust in me, that I’m working in him.” Since I identified with Karen, I did what she did—I started praying differently. What could I do to be the best version of myself so I could help carry Tommy on his darkest days? I realized yelling wasn’t going to fix anything—I had to step back, let God do the work in him, and love him through it.
Just being in the environment of that first conference planted a seed of change. We bought our 2022 tickets before we even left.
Shortly after that, I knew we needed to do more to save our marriage. I’d heard about XO Mediation, and though I was afraid of how much it cost, something told me no amount was too much to save our marriage. I brought the idea to Tommy, and we prayed on it and felt a sense of peace. When we attended those two days of mediation, something just broke in Tommy.
During that first lunch break, I shared with Ginny that on the way there, I’d been ready to divorce. But that all changed! Something about the way Sean Reed spoke about the impact of what Jesus did on the cross and how that affected me and my marriage just cleared the mist from my eyes and my mind. I never believed it was possible, but I had a revelation! Everything became so clear to me. I got born again. All the shame, hatred, and bitterness I’d been taking out on Ginny all just disappeared. Even she could see the immediate change.
Those two days saved our marriage—they even changed my relationship with our daughter.
The XO Conference was that same weekend, and we went into the conference totally transformed. During the Vow Renewal ceremony, that was when we got married—not that moment 17 years ago in a church. That vow renewal was the moment we truly went into it in God’s eyes.
I don’t care if it costs $30,000. I’ll pay for it every time. No matter how bad your marriage is, it can be saved. As long as you’re doing it God’s way, it’s work, but it’s worth it.
We love saying, “We’ve been married 17 years, and it’s been the best two months of our lives.” We’re still on our journey, but we know now that every day is only going to get better, and each one is an opportunity to choose each other, kick the enemy to God’s feet, surrender to Christ, and serve each other.
Advice from one struggling spouse to another:
Whatever the struggle in your marriage is, don’t give up. Love your spouse through it. It’s not easy, but in the same sense, allow God to work through you and in you and continue to serve Him.