Happily Ever After

I was embarrassed to send out wedding invitations for my fourth marriage to (Christian) family members. They must think I’m such a loser.

This time was going to be different, though.

I’d finally met Prince Charming.

I didn’t give a rip about church at that time of my life – I don’t think we ever even discussed religion during the year and four months we dated. We were too busy being in love and loving life to the max.

We had an amazing honeymoon on Maui. I’d never expected to go to Hawaii in my wildest dreams. Oh, the snorkeling, the sight-seeing, the luau; sitting on the lanai with the warm tropical breeze gently caressing bare skin.

What a perfect way to begin a perfect marriage. I thought to myself.

Have you ever wondered why fairy tales end right after the wedding, with the blissful couple riding off into the sunset?

{Hand raised o/, enthusiastic call} Pick me! Pick me!

Okay, I’ll tell you why.

Because after every wedding comes a marriage!

For me, like I said, this was my fourth. I’m not proud of that. It’s one of my “coats of shame” that the Lord has to frequently remove from me – and remind me that He has given me His robe of righteousness in exchange.

The first marriage had a duration of about 20 months. We’d only known one another for 2 1/2 months before we got hitched. There were a lot of issues. The biggest one was that I expected to be treated like royalty…and in the process became a royal pain in the … well, you know.

My second marriage was going to be different…oh, and was it ever. I was determined before God to fulfill my marriage vows – and did for ten years. This was one of the most difficult times of my life. In the end, God led me out of captivity into a safe place.

The third marriage was another short one, measured by months – not years.

Then I met Mr. Right. I knew “happily ever after” lay just beyond our marriage covenant.

Wow! Was I in for a rude awakening.

(Sorry, Dear Hubby – this will get better in a minute!).

What followed should have come as no surprise. After all, when we are given a test and fail, God is gracious and always administers a “re-test.” He provides do-overs until we finally pass because His kids are winners! No matter how many times we have to take our tests, on His report card, we will have straight As!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. It took me more than 25 years to figure this out:

Marriage is not primarily about happiness;

It is about holiness.

You see, our spouse is meant to bring out the worst in us so we can surrender it to God and grow in the process.

The selfishness

The pride

The manipulation

The need to control

The insecurity

These rear their ugly heads in no time at all.

They certainly had in my first marriage. It was his fault. I just needed better husband material, so I moved on.


The problems I thought I’d left behind in the first relationship followed me into the second…new ones appeared as well:



Lack of provision



All the issues that go with addiction

I’ll make a better choice next time, I decided.


There was a short period of emotional recovery. I figured I was “healed” and could now make a marriage work. It didn’t take long to figure out that I had all the problems of relationship #1 and #2…and a whole ‘nother set of issues:



Loss of my kids’ respect

He’s not the one, either…next…


As you’ve guessed, I brought all of these earlier problems into my “happily ever after” marriage. Of course, a new man comes with new challenges, so there were even more things to struggle with. In no time at all, we were about as unhappy as a couple could be. In fact, after about three years we separated.

But God…

Aren’t those the best words in all the world?

God had other plans for us. We went to marriage counseling at a church, which led to a marriage class of several weeks, and church attendance, all of which drew us into a genuine relationship with the Lord.

It’s taken time, but God is slowly changing our characters, removing defects one by one. I love Philippians 1:6. “God is faithful to complete the work He has begun in you.”

He just needed for me to stay put long enough for my sinful behaviors to surface, be acknowledged, repented of, and surrendered to His Spirit. He has been faithfully transforming me by renewing my mind.

It began when I was willing to cede the throne…and give it back to Him.


Today I understand that I can live…

Happily Ever After

when I

Happily give up

what-Ever God is After!


Oh, and if we don’t “get” it through marriage (which brings out the worst in us)…

…we get children to be living mirrors of what we are like to live with.

I don’t want to say that I’m slow, or that there was a lot for me to see in myself…

…but I was given seven children – “mini-me’s” to demonstrate my behavior so I could see myself in action.

They truly are a gift of God!


The Mother of Nine wrote two excellent articles on this topic. They fill in some of the “white spaces” in this post. You can read them here:

When Marriage Feels Like a Meat Grinder


The Teeter-Totter Syndrome


Visit Lessons by Heart


3 thoughts on “Happily Ever After”

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