Three years ago, because of some upheaval in Chuck's industry as a counselor, he was forced to seek new employment. When he couldn't find anything locally, he began to look out-of-state and found a job in Colorado, five-and-a-half hours away from their New Mexico home. The problem was, Marita didn't want to move out of state: "I have an established business with great employees and a creative job I enjoy. We have good friends and a strong church here."
While they'd moved several times before for his job, Marita told Chuck she wasn't moving this time. She didn't want him to take the job so far away.
But then one day Chuck came home and told her he'd accepted the position. His unilateral decision angered Marita, who began to make life "very unpleasant. We had several long, tearful, heated 'discussions,'" she says.
Chuck was surprised by Marita's response. "Marita has followed me in several moves. While I always had a job, I couldn't quite get ahead. So when the economy turned downward and I lost my position, I was crushed. I tried to pursue employment locally but just wasn't able to find anything in my field. Believing better opportunities awaited me as a counselor in Colorado, I became licensed there and was able to find a job.
"When I told Marita, she was upset," Chuck continues. "I couldn't understand why she wouldn't want to move if it meant my success. After all, she'd moved before. I felt she needed to support me."
Marita felt differently: "Why does everything have to be about his job? Doesn't he realize how important my business and having security is? Plus, if this new job doesn't work out, what will we do? My business has been supporting us during Chuck's unemployment."
What Chuck and Marita Did:
Marita spent a lot of time praying about it and one day during her devotions she wondered what God would want for her life. "It doesn't take a theologian to figure out God's priority," Marita says. "Should I put my business first or my marriage first? If I believe in the Bible, I know I have to put my marriage first, which, in this case, meant accepting a move. If God gave me this business, which I believe he did, he'll take care of it."
So she told Chuck they'd move. "The amazing thing," Marita says, "is that the moment I reached this decision, when I chose to put my marriage first and submit to my husband's needs, my sense of crisis lifted and I was at peace with the situation."
Chuck and Marita found an apartment to rent in Colorado and decided for the time being Chuck would live there during the week while Marita stayed at their home. She'd drive to Colorado on weekends. Marita got him settled into his new pad, decorated it, cooked him some meals to keep in the freezer, and returned to their home in New Mexico until she'd be able to make the move permanently.
Chuck was thrilled with their decision. He enjoyed his job and thought everything was going well. Marita drove back and forth between Albuquerque and Colorado Springs almost every weekend. But the stress and exhaustion of their commuter marriage was taking a toll: Marita had three automobile accidents.
One evening six months into their arrangement, Chuck was outside walking his dog, Harley, when he felt God speak clearly to him. "I heard God tell me, 'Go home and take care of your wife,'" Chuck says. "This wasn't what I wanted to hear!" He struggled with what God told him. Chuck thought, If I do what God's asking, I really ought to be in the same state as my wife. But he didn't want to leave his job. He knew he wouldn't find anything back in New Mexico—which meant he'd have to give up his field of study, everything he'd trained for. "I just didn't want to do that," Chuck admits. "I saw great strides happening in my clients." But God's words kept coming back to him.
Chuck didn't tell Marita about his encounter with God. So when he quit his job in Colorado and moved back to New Mexico, she was shocked.
"I assumed when I submitted to what God had told me about making the move," Marita says, "it would be permanent. So when Chuck moved back here, I couldn't believe it!"
Chuck took a job he considered to be beneath his abilities and education and ended up working there for a year and a half. During that time, God began to work with Chuck in a way he hadn't been able to before. "I was so caught up with the success of my career that I began to put God and my wife in the background," Chuck says. While working at this job, he read the Bible through cover-to-cover. And he didn't try to look for a better position. "I felt as if God wanted to teach me something—that I couldn't learn if I was working in my field," Chuck says. "Once I put my wife first, not my career or my search for success, I was offered a job in my field that was impressive and paid more than I'd ever made." Since that time Chuck's been offered many other positions and has had his pick of opportunities. "When I was seeking success and my own interests," Chuck says, "success eluded me. When I was willing to do what was best for my marriage, I found the success I worked so hard to find. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, 'Live happily with the woman you love through the fleeting days of life, for the wife God gives you is your best reward down here for all your earthly toil' (TLB). Those words have been true for me."
Marita agrees. "That period of our life was difficult," she says. "But God used it to teach us about the true meaning of sacrifice and loving each other and God extravagantly. While God's way doesn't seem to make sense to the world, it is the best. And I do know that God is in control!"
Chuck and Marita have been married for 19 years and live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.