My husband Don and I have been married for 17 years, however, the first 15 were awfully tumultuous. We argued all the time and just could not get along.
I now realize that I went into marriage thinking I would be a glorified girlfriend and that my husband would love me unconditionally until “death did we part.” That lasted all of three weeks. That’s it. The honeymoon and my fairy tale marriage was over with the ring of the telephone.
That one phone call took my marriage on a downward spiral for years. That phone call was answered by my new husband with an old boyfriend on the other side. When my husband asked me about it, I told him we were just friends. He search for anything to prove me a liar. He found my journals from back in the day that proved otherwise. Our three week euphoria was over. Trust was destroyed. We were no longer in love or like, for that matter.
In the midst of trying to hold my new marriage together, I ran to the library, combing the aisles for something, anything to help me.
I did not find any books by African American women. All I found were lots of Urban Fiction books full of infidelity and lots of hot, steamy sex. My mom was a Harlequin Romance bag-lady. She carried those books everywhere she went, so I searched through a few of those too. I could never get past the first chapter without feeling like an utter failure. After all, the main characters didn’t look or live like me and they, with their new found loves, always seemed to ride off into the sunset, living happily ever after.
While living in Germany, I was introduced to Power of the Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I devoured this book from cover to cover. I wrote in it A LOT. I read those prayers out loud in all earnest because I knew my life and my marriage depended on it. That book, along with my Bible, were the two books that helped me keep my sanity and helped me stay married. My husband wasn’t abusive; we just had a marriage full of bitterness and a serious lack of trust. We argued about everything and only had sex when I couldn’t take his begging anymore.
Upon our return from Germany, I got wind of another book called Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This not only helped me set boundaries with my husband, but it also helped me set them with friends and family.
I was always a person who suffered from low self-esteem, so I was the queen of People Pleaser Land. The downside to that was that I was constantly miserable and made my husband and children miserable, too. Boundaries was the book that helped me begin the process of getting my life back.
Another set of books that had a positive impact on my marriage was The Four Seasons of a Marriage Series by Gary Chapman and Catherine Palmer. Even though they are fictional accounts, I saw Don and I in every story in some kind of way. I cried several times while reading this four-book set. It made me think about my marriage and what I wanted it to look like. I never gave any thought as to how I wanted my marriage to be. And these books helped me literally step outside of myself to look at it from another vantage point. I’m so glad I found these books, and I still check them out from the library every few years just to get a refresher.
To be totally honest with you, the book that made the most impact these last two years of my marriage, is my very own book. I wrote my book, Being a Wife Just Got Real, Things I Wish I Knew Before I Said “I Do” because I did not want other women to experience the dysfunction my husband and I had.
It was not just a cathartic release for me; it was introspective. I wrote this book in a conversational way because I didn’t find any books like that when I was going through our rough patches. Throughout the entire writing process, I cried so many times and apologized to Don a million more times for all the pain I caused him. We both received so much healing during the writing process. I share our issues, our ways of managing them and how we overcame things such as alcoholism and an emotional affair.
BMWK, What books had a profound impact on improving or even restoring your marriage?