Surprised by Redemption

How trouble can transform marriage

A news reporter once asked Joyce Rumsfeld how she and her husband Donald, former Secretary of Defense, kept their marriage of nearly 60 years together. She replied without hesitation, "He travels a lot." Her response might elicit a smile, but I imagine there's more truth in it than fiction. Staying together through tough times such as leading through war in Iraq, 10 relocations in 12 years, and rearing children largely alone, requires strength, commitment, and the grace of God. For some couples, like the Rumsfelds, trying circumstances actually transform their marriages to a level of good they never expected.

I remember speaking with an old friend after we'd been apart for many years due to various changes in our lives. The last I'd heard, she and her husband were on the verge of separation. But then something occurred in her life that prompted her to take one simple step before giving up. She began praying for her husband—not that he would change or be more loving or a better listener, but that God would bless him right where he was. And she asked the Lord to take away her harsh judgments about him. Over time and with the support of other praying wives, my friend's marriage was healed. Her husband didn't suddenly become someone new. He was the same man he'd always been, but she saw him differently and began to love him as he was. Some might consider this a miracle. She says, "No, it was my deal with God—to pray for my husband and to accept and be happy with whatever results the Lord gave me." She paused and smiled. "And I am."

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