My Marriage — The Unraveling
When Tom was 10 years old, he received the Lord through his Sunday school teacher. He told me he always fought with his brothers and sisters. He had an unbelievable temper, and it was always him against his siblings. He noticed after his salvation, he did not remember such hostile confrontations… My sisters-in-law confirmed this to me. Soon after this he told God that when he grew up, he would serve Him full time.
When I was 10 years old, I was filled with desire to avert pain for my father and mother. My poor father was constantly trying to earn a living where no earning was found. I made a vow that I would succeed so I could take care of my father. Embedded in me were all of my mother’s woes, all of her hidden anguish of life. I determined that whatever it took, I would make life easier for my mother. Then there was my grandfather’s dream—I would be the daughter in the family to bring kingship back.
Such an irony in life—two children with such conflicting determinations grow up, fall hopelessly in love, and get married.
The first eight years of our marriage was bliss. Tom was a wonderful husband, father, and excelled as an engineer. Oh how I loved being his wife. The only agony for me was that he was tireless in serving our church, after 40 hours of work. It seemed to me he had endless energy in the evenings and weekends to take care of church needs. Yet it was okay even though I was keenly aware of my growing loneliness. I loved the feeling that we were secure; I would never have to experience my parents’ pain. Tom would often forget about his pay checks in his wallet because we could live on half of my paycheck. My dream of fulfilling abundance in life was happening. I longed to be a Christian whose abundance was able to bless God and humanity.
In 1987, my blissful life was shaken to the core. I remember one day Tom came home running. He was so excited. He wanted to take a year off from his job to be immersed in a Bible study program. Up to now whatever we requested of each other was happily consented; I was still living a honeymoon marriage after eight years…I did not know how to answer his request. We had just bought a home, we had 2 car payments, and our children had very busy schedules. In the end I said, “Yes”. He longed for it so much that I could not deny him.
In July of 1987 Tom went to Anaheim, California, for our bi-annual conference lasting ten days. He came home and went to Cleveland for three weeks, which involved serving young people’s summer programs. Thus the year was initiated. All the pain that I had suppressed in the depth of my being resurfaced that year in unbearable agony. The searing loneliness of my childhood that I thought was gone forever when I married Tom resurfaced and was staring me in the face. The pain of abandonment, the sense that I don’t matter, I am being used, he does not care for us, flooded me constantly in his absence. Yet I did not tell him of my inner turmoil. After all, it would be over in a year. Let him have his enjoyment.
In Tom’s absence, I experienced such severe depression that it scared my friend Linda—the only person I confided in. She told me, “You must tell Tom. Your depression will destroy not only you but your children.” Yet how could I tell Tom? Whenever I was with him, somehow everything was OK. So all things were kept in my heart, brewing and growing there—this loneliness blacker than death, desperate unhappiness, fear of him abandoning his family to serve Jesus. I kept telling myself, “Everything will be okay in one year.”
As I experienced this rollercoaster, I started to hate the man I so adored and loved. I determined that at whatever cost I could not afford to love him. During that year, I realized deep in my heart that one day Tom will serve God full time. I felt it was my intense love for him that caused me to suffer; if I didn’t love him, he could do whatever he wanted, and it would not affect me.
As promised, when the program was over Tom went back to work. He came home every evening to find me cooking or being busy with kids. I was no longer the wife who was crazy about him. In one short year he had lost me, and he did not know how to restore our sweet intimacy.
Henna was six years old and Christian was four. They were adorable children. I would watch Tom—oh, he was such a good father. I always thought my children were so fortunate to have a father who loved them so much. I knew how to take care of them, yet the ability to connect with them emotionally eluded me. I knew how to read to them, teach them, help them with school work, and take them to all kinds of lessons and parties. Tom knew how to play with them, discipline them, love them, and connect with them in their soul. He knew how to have fun with them. My love for our children had a very different flavor than Tom’s love for our children.
We continued to be very active with church functions. I attended all the meetings, sister’s tea, prayer meetings, home gatherings, and Sunday meetings. Our church always had many conferences. I opened my home for hospitality. I attended bi-annual Bible trainings. My life was so filled with activities, including taking care of “new ones.” I was falling deep into religious obligations. I had lost my zest for life.