How God Saved My Marriage After Filing for Divorce

A Marriage Miracle

by Jennifer Norwood

I grew up in a traditional two-parent home in East Texas. My dad is a pastor, and even though I committed my life to Christ at the age of seven, I learned that in the church world keeping up appearances is important.

I remember my dad being gone a lot, counseling, and pastoring people. He was doing a good thing, helping people, but it affected my self-esteem. As a teenager, I dated guys because they showed interest in me, not because they met my standards.

Ironically, the week before I met my future husband Demetric, I had decided to stop settling for poor relationships, I was 29 and single, but I was going to wait for someone who saw my “worth.”

Demetric grew up very differently than me. He was raised by a single mom in the projects (his words not mine.) He was a popular star athlete, filled with confidence, and never a shortage of opportunities to date. After committing his life to Christ at the age of 13, he knew somehow his life would involve serving people through ministry. Demetric had faith, but throughout his college and young adult years it wasn’t a priority. He says the first time he met me he knew we would get married. It was love at first sight for him.

While we dated, we ignored issues that followed us into marriage. We never dealt with the realities of race, culture or other challenges. Because we didn’t establish boundaries, the influence of our families substantially interfered with how we interacted as newlyweds.

I convinced myself we wouldn’t have problems. If weddings predicted success, we would live a fairy tale because ours was perfect. I believed we were destined to live happily ever after! At first, things were pretty good—we had fun together, but in the first nine months, Demetric’s job moved him to Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky. We barely saw each other, and my old feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem began to creep back in.

We found out on our 1-year anniversary I was pregnant with my son Nathan. I moved with Demetric to Louisville, and we settled in, building our life together, and it was good. Demetric’s job provided us a nice home, company car, and expense account, that was until he lost his job. I remember the Wednesday afternoon we find out he was unemployed. We lost everything but the bills and went from a family that had everything to a family receiving food stamps, WIC, and government aid. Nothing was going how I dreamed except the birth of my youngest son Noah.

Demetric has a very strong personality, which is one of the things I love about him, but when we would disagree, I couldn’t out talk him. So, I started burying my feelings. I am a peacemaker, I just want everyone to get along and be happy, so instead of expressing my feelings, I shut down. As the arguments grew, we grew further and further apart. He would yell, and I would bury my feelings desperately avoiding confrontation, just like my childhood.

The tension was unbearable. Since I didn’t have boundaries, anytime Demetric and I would argue, I complained to my parents about it. I didn’t just complain; I criticized him. So now there wasn’t just a wedge between Demetric and me, there was a wedge between him and my parents.

Finally, things came to a boiling point. One night we were arguing and cursing at each other when Demetric pushed me. It was the first time he had ever done anything like that; I was confused and frightened. Our pastor came to our house to counsel us, and things got a little better, but we never followed up with the counseling, so it didn’t last long.

In March of 2010, we moved back to my hometown in Texas to be near my family. We were broken and hurt but just lived with the status quo for a while. After a few years attending my dad’s church, he asked us to consider being the children’s pastors, and we both agreed to do it. I dove into my work and my boys, basically shutting Demetric out of my life as much as I could without leaving him. I was miserable. We fought a lot, but on the outside, we looked like the perfect couple. We were both stressed and went non-stop, in different directions.

I convinced myself I had married the wrong person. I remember praying one day and asking God to do something. I told Him “I can’t take it anymore!” I either needed to fix things between Demetric and me or I wanted out.

About a week later, we got into a huge fight, and this time, my sister and his mom were there. It was a mess! I was so confused, not knowing what to do, so I left. Things only got worse, and I hired an attorney to file for divorce. There was no fixing it, this time; we had hurt each other too much and gone too far. Demetric resented me for keeping him from his kids, and after receiving the divorce papers he resolved himself to being a single dad with visitation privileges. If it wasn’t for our children he probably never would’ve spoken to me again.

It seemed like we were done, but then some of our friends invited us to a marriage class another church was offering called “re/engage.” I wasn’t sure if it would help anything, and I didn’t know if I had the energy to try, but I felt like God was challenging me; I could go through the pain of divorce now, or I could give Him 16 weeks at re/engage and possibly avoid the pain and damage of divorce. There was no guarantee, but I convinced myself it was worth a try. My biggest concern was whether or not Demetric would allow God to change him. I was convinced he was the problem. It never occurred to me I could be part of the problem too.

The first night of “re/engage” the speaker said, “Some of you think you are here because your spouse has problems. You think you’re fine, but he needs help!” That was exactly what I thought, so God had my attention at that point!

My relationship with God began to grow. After several weeks of re/engage, I finally started to work on me, but I was still battling pride, anger, insecurity, and fear. I was scared to be the first one to make a move towards reconciliation, what if I tried to make it work but Demetric never changed?

Gradually Demetric and I began working towards restoration. One of the biggest breakthroughs for us was when we truly forgave each other. Things turned around drastically for us when we both finally surrendered the other person to God. I stopped trying to fix Demetric, and I started allowing God to fix me. Demetric did the same thing.

On March 31st, 2015 the boys and I moved back home! It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been honest, and that makes all the difference. I was too full of pride and self-righteousness before. We have learned to pray together, talk and be honest with one another. We laugh and have fun again. I feel cherished and secure in our relationship, and Demetric feels honored. He knows he is more important than my family.

If you are reading this and you feel your marriage is too far gone to ever change, I encourage you to not give up. Don’t bury your feelings. I spent so much time and energy trying to make it look like we had the perfect marriage, but it is easier to do the work it takes to have a good marriage than to give off the perception of a good marriage. Don’t believe the lie that your situation is different than everyone else’s and there is no hope for you. I promise if God can heal us, He can heal you too. Only God gets credit for reviving our marriage We’re not here because our faith was efficient, but because God’s grace is sufficient!