I recently wrote in “The Martyrdom of Saint Me,” that I credit my wife with helping me become the man I am now – a much improved version of myself, nothing like the person I was. And forever, I will believe that I could not have made the life changes I’ve made without her. She could have (and maybe should have) left me. But she didn’t. Instead, she stayed dutifully by my side, remaining faithful and determined to make our marriage work, even through my unfaithfulness, my addiction, my time in prison, and my continuing struggles for self-improvement. And as I continue to read the book “Every Man’s Marriage,” I see more and more how amazing she is as a wife and as a person.
People have questioned why she stayed with me, and rightfully so. Her refusal to give up on our marriage is seen as foolish to some. But on the contrary, it took an immense amount of strength to stand with me, for better or for worse, even when the “worse” was as bad as it could possibly be. And in the midst of a wife’s worst nightmare, she could not be phased. She is, by far, the strongest woman I’ve ever met – she can carry an incredible amount of emotional weight and she is amazingly resilient.
She didn’t stay in our marriage because of a lack of options or because she was too weak to leave or was afraid to be alone. She remained in our marriage because she felt that it was her duty as a Christian woman to support her husband – in spite of my many many faults – and to make our marriage work, even when it seemed that I wasn’t willing or able. “I didn’t marry you to divorce you,” she said to me on multiple occasions.
Fred Stoeker writes in “Every Man’s Marriage” that a wife’s life – specifically the way she lives her life – is, in essence, her ministry. And this is exactly how I feel about my wife. As I have told her many times, she is my proof on Earth that God exists. Her faithfulness and perseverance in marriage is her ministry. By living the life she lives, she is able to show the people around her (through her actions and commitment) how strong, dedicated, and faithful a Christian woman can be. I am exponentially undeserving of this woman. Sometimes God gives us blessings we don’t deserve, and she is mine. The things I’ve done to her are unforgivable, and yet, she forgave me, repeatedly. Our marriage has outlasted the marriages of many of our friends (and former friends) and for us, the future is bright and encouraging. We’re in this together, but we are still together because of her, not me. We are still married because she chose not to leave, not by any feat of mine.
So on this Valentine’s Day, I can truly say that not only am I in love with my best and strongest friend, but that she is in love with me as well. We have overcome more in eleven years of marriage than many couples experience in fifty years. And the things that have torn other couples apart have been overcome and forgiven in our marriage. Our marriage is stronger today than it was yesterday, but not as strong as it will be tomorrow. She is the angel who protects me – she is the embrace that comforts me – she is the voice that soothes me. She is my wife, until death do us part, for as long as we both shall live.