Portrait of a Marriage: "A Lousy Divorce"

Doug and Mary McNeil faced money woes, foreclosure, and even separation. What next?

In January 2002, Doug and Mary McNeil held each other and cried.

"We don't have to do this!" Mary sobbed.

They'd been married almost 19 years. Had four great kids. Loved each other deeply. And yet …

The next day they stood in a Colorado Springs courtroom. The judge said coldly, "I declare this marriage to be irretrievably broken." And just like that, Doug and Mary were divorced.

"It was the most devastating sentence I've ever heard," Mary says. "It was like a person had died."

Doug and Mary moved on. Two years later they both remarried—a good decision, though a lot of their friends didn't think so at the time. Today, four-plus years later, they're thrilled with their second spouses and new lives.

The best part? They remarried each other.

When Doug met Mary

In 1981, Doug, a pastor's son from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, took a job in Grand Rapids. There he met the pastor's daughter at the church he was attending. Though four years older than Mary, who was still a teenager, he called to ask her out. She thought he seemed shy and geeky, but said yes.

"I found out Doug was funny, interesting, intelligent, and a great singer," she says, "and suddenly I thought, Wow, this is it."

They married in 1983. But although things appeared great, cracks soon began to form.

"We couldn't save money," Doug recalls. "In a budget, you have quarterly or bi-annual bills, like car insurance. I'd try to save extra money to pay those bills, but Mary would consider that money available and spend it. We never stayed focused on a goal, and that became really frustrating."

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Divorce; Marriage; Renewal
Today's Christian Woman, Fall, 2008
Posted February 23, 2009

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