That's it," my husband muttered, "I'm through."
Watching his back disappear through our bedroom door, I wondered if he meant it this time. We'd often been challenged by conflicting schedules and discipline differences concerning our two preteen sons. Although our marriage had weathered many storms, lately I'd begun to feel as if our boat was sinking.
I sat on our bed and stared out the window. The sturdy cherry trees and tall pines reminded me of God's protection. If he could care for those landmarks, surely he'd protect our family. But I recalled how a violent summer storm had cost us three trees—a reminder that sometimes the worst of nature gets the best of us.
Finally, I walked downstairs and found Ted* hunched over his computer—one of my regular complaints about him. The kids were playing next door, so we could talk openly. Placing an arm around his shoulders, I whispered, "I'm sorry."
Only recently had I begun to realize how my cutting words about his "inadequacies" as a husband and father had deeply wounded him.
Barely glancing up, he replied, "That's not enough anymore. Nothing ever changes."
Feeling foolish, I withdrew my arm. "That's not true," I snapped. "I've changed over the past 10 years. You even said so—"
Catching myself in defensive mode, I stopped mid-sentence and paused. "What would you like me to do?"
He sighed. "We've been through this before. If you don't know, I'm not telling you."
Thinking back over our married life, I recalled Ted's irritation on several occasions when he came home to a dark kitchen and no dinner as I spent hours on the phone cold-calling potential clients to jump-start a home business. Ted worked hard all day and wanted hot meals when he arrived home. He also wanted me to handle the kids' discipline immediately instead of waiting for him to get home, but I felt they needed his manly leadership. Slowly I was learning to let go of my way and trust God with his, but often I fell short, complaining because I had to lead family devotions when Ted was busy. Competing interests had drawn us away from each other. I realized guiltily that even the kids were uncomfortably aware of escalating tensions between us.
Interrupting my thoughts, he added, "I haven't loved you for a long time, and I'm not going to live like this for the next 50 years."
His words felt as if he'd punched me in the stomach. Shocked, I left his office in tears. It was one thing to be reminded of neglected duties; it was another to be told your spouse doesn't love you.