chapter 1 your marriage is not an accident happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love and they blossom when we love the ones we marry Tom Mullen whenever I think about my 44 years with Billie our marriage and how God brought us together I’m amazed that the grace God has given us to persevere God is sovereign and in charge of our lives we can trust him to direct us to where we need to go to fulfill his purpose for our lives as well as draw us into the lifetime relationship that will complete the good work he has begun in us God designed your spouse to complete you to strengthen temper emboldened refine and perfect you and to facilitate his plans and purposes concerning you God designed marriage to be a blessing but also as a means of helping you grow into everything he created you to be I am so grateful that God brought Billy Kay into my life I am certain that God engineered her with the necessary strength grace patience determination encouraged to be married to the likes of me when I think of God’s will concerning my marriage to Billy Kay I think of what the Lord told Jeremiah for I know the plans I have for you plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future Jeremiah 29:11 NIV it might not seem like that today concerning you and your marriage but whatever trials you are going through with your spouse they are aligned with God’s plans to perfect and prosper you to maximize your greatest potential to give you a rich present in a rewarding future however I am also a realist I know your marriage today might not be all you had hoped it would be the day you recited your vows to one another Billy and I have counseled enough couples to know the heartaches that can result from trusting your hopes aspirations and heart to another and feeling that person is not being faithful with that trust we know how marriage can seemingly make a devil out of the very angel you thought you had marry love and marriage can be funny things sometimes the very traits we thought were so endearing and wonderful about our spouse when we fell in love are what drive us crazy about them years later it is commonly said that opposites attract but what happens when all those little opposites turn into big irritants looking back on why you married your husband or wife maybe you’ll be able to identify with some of these before and after scenarios husband to wife before she takes my breath away after I feel like I’m suffocating wife to husband before I love the way he takes charge of a situation after he is a controlling manipulative dominating psycho husband to wife before I love her unique sense of fashion after is she really going to wear that in public wife to husband before it’s so nice how he eats everything I put in front of him after is he really going to eat all that husband’s a wife before I love how I’m always the center of her attention after I just need some space although these are funny to read changing perceptions and attitudes can cause seemingly insurmountable stress and frustration I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying while the husband hopes his wife will never change the wife dreams of nothing but changing her husband our dreams of marital bliss can easily turn into nightmares beyond the honeymoon what is important to remember is that these types of challenges are common to every marriage the fact is that as long as there are differences between men and women there will be differences to overcome in our marriages I understand these challenges can easily become overwhelming and the hurts that result can seem irreparable yet too often people end up divorced and are left is disoriented and broken in spirit as the victim of a hit-and-run driver that was never part of God’s plan for you yes there are situations where divorce for the safety and sanity of one or both partners is justified and the only way forward in situations of abuse and unrepentant repeated infidelity or abandonment for example the marriage has been broken even before the word divorce is ever mentioned but God never intends for marriages to come to that he is the God of second and third and fourth chances if you will let him he will work with you to repair everything that has been broken reconcile the most divisive conflicts and resolve even the most challenging circumstances I want you to know that whatever ordeals you are going through with your spouse they are not outside of God’s influence and aid it may feel like someone is taking a knife to your heart but if you will work it through with your spouse you will see it is divine surgery that will allow you to be freer and more in love than you have ever been you marrying who you did was no accident the crazy series of events that brought you to your spouse whether a long and circuitous journey or a brief one were orchestrated by God as part of his plan for your life because of that he has a vested interest in seeing you succeed no matter what you’re going through or how dark it seems the master counselor is always present with the light you need to take the next step toward a great marriage what God has joined together I remember the first day I saw Billy Kay it was in February 1966 I was reporting for duty to master gunnery sergeant Taylor at the Parris Island Marine Corps Base in South Carolina we were both in the service as I walked through the doors of headquarters and headed up the stairs to Sergeant Taylor’s office I saw Billy coming down I fell in love with her at that very moment I’ll never forget how my mind raced thinking about how I could get to know this beautiful woman I felt like she was probably the kind of gal who never stuck with any guy for very long she was too pretty for that I was sure she was never without when asking her out especially in the middle of a boot camp full of Marines I don’t know if she believes me to this day but because I wanted to get her attention when she said hi I turned and looked the other way it seemed to have worked she was intrigued enough to ask around about me and it wasn’t long before I made sure I was the only guy she paid attention to again a short time later we met face to face at the noncommissioned officers Club on base six weeks later on April 28th we were married I look back on it now and think what a miracle how could I ever doubt that God directed our circumstances toward each other from the very beginning even though we didn’t know him at the time despite God’s plan our first few years together were very difficult neither one of us knew how to treat the other nor were we part of any church or organization that could advise us about how to make marriage work we were young and immature and knew nothing about love beyond the intense emotion we felt toward each other the one thing I did know is that I loved Billy Kay many would say there is no such thing as love at first sight but Billy captured my heart the moment I laid eyes on her I will not deny that I was attracted to her physically she was and is still so very beautiful but something far deeper was happening in my heart at the same time I am reminded of when Abraham sent his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac in chapter 24 of Genesis the servant found Rebekah at a well and returned with her to his master when she saw Isaac coming toward them Rebekah lifted her eyes and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel then she asked who is this man walking in the field to meet us and the servant replied it is my master the passage goes on to state that Isaac took Rebekah and she became his wife and he loved her the story doesn’t give an account of what was going through Isaac’s mind as he saw Rebekah approaching or how Rebekah felt as she spotted Isaac but I imagine they both experienced a deep sense of destiny and that is what happened to me when I first saw Billy cave it may have taken Billy a little longer but eventually she came around to the same realization the other side of the story when I saw Paul that day in 1966 I had just returned from my first leave after being assigned to Parris Island I had only joined the Marine Corps six months earlier which was only 11 days after I had graduated from high school I remember our first meeting as if it were yesterday I was walking down the stairs when the new driver came walking up what struck me first were his beautiful green eyes I also remember seeing the name on his uniform and not being able to pronounce it as I was walking down the stairs I said hi but he looked the other way as if he hadn’t heard me the next time I saw him was a few days later holding up a wall at the NCO club he was drunk as a skunk believe it or not I think that was the moment I fell in love with him how I fell for a man who was drunk I will never know I had a profound of version two men who drank because my dad had been a drunkard for the first 10 years of his and my mom’s marriage I was painfully aware of how my mother suffered because of his drinking I remember standing outside beer joints with my siblings while mom wept as we waited for my dad to come out I would not have chosen to fall in love with someone who abused alcohol but there I was falling for this man in a drunken stupor from that night on I bugged my friends to help me find a way to date him then one night we all went to the beach built a bonfire and Paul and I ended up talking until morning we were together every night after that we were both afraid to tell the other we were falling in love but once we did we immediately started talking about marriage Paul’s tour of duty would be up in six months and I wanted to be with him when he began the next phase of his life the only possible way for me to be discharged at the same time would be if I were pregnant it seemed getting married as soon as possible was the reasonable thing to do we plan to get married during the next 96 hour pass we could arrange we set the date for April 28th Paul had stopped drinking the last two weeks we were dating and I foolishly figured that meant he would never drink again we had only known each other a month and a half before we got married and as young and naive as I was I thought those two sober weeks were enough to prove he was the man of my dreams after all I thought we were going to be a husband and wife and start a family I was certain he loved me enough to change I never doubted his intentions or his integrity yet the night before the ceremony his friends threw him a bachelor party and he drank as if he had never stopped then in a sudden angry rage he flew off the handle and started yelling at me that was the end of the party and his friends left we went out and sat in the car to cool off but he was still mad he tried to throw our wedding rings out of the window but somehow I put up my hand and blocked them so they fell to the floor instead nine hours later we were married you should see our wedding picture I looked like a scared rabbit Paul had a volatile temper that intensified when he drank not only that he had a long history of disruptive behavior as a Marine he had gotten into numerous violent fights and had been busted down in rank four times it was due to his wild behavior that he was sent back to Parris Island as a driver to finish out his last six months of Duty apparently they didn’t know what else to do to keep him out of trouble looking back God was at work all the time bringing us together he used what seemed to be a series of unrelated events to direct him and me to what would become the path we are on today who would have thought that God would use an unruly undisciplined drunken marine to someday counsel married couples and coach business leaders who would have imagined that God would use our marriage that started in such a surprising way to bring healing and restoration to hundreds of couples across the nation falling in love is not enough there is no question that Billy K and I fell hard for each other and that falling in love was an overwhelming thing for us it is certainly not the way we would counsel young couples getting married today for a while that falling in love euphoria covered up our differences in irritations but that didn’t last very long it is as easy to fall out of that kind of love as it is to fall into it true love on the other hand is not about that overwhelming emotion that can blind you it is something more it is something that builds a bond between the two of you despite your differences that even overshadows how you feel Billy and I came from totally different backgrounds I was raised in northern Maine and she was raised in southern Texas I was morally bad she was morally good I was out of church she was in church I was raised Roman Catholic she was raised a Baptist we were from opposite sides of the world in every way at the time we met I was coming back from overseas with only six months left in my Marine Corps service she had just finished basic training they just happened to station me at Parris Island where Billy Kaye just happened to be stationed I just happened to be assigned as a driver at a recruit classification where Billy just happened to be working we just happened to meet happen to fall in love and happen to marry but the fact that we have now been married for 44 years didn’t just happen that took some decisive steps on both of our parts we don’t know of any strong marriage that hasn’t had some rough or rocky times in the first few years and that was certainly our experience as well marriage is not for the faint of heart enduring love is tried and tested by difficult personalities debilitating setbacks and sometimes devastating circumstances trials and challenges are what make love grow stronger if we commit to working through them as much as we want to simply fall in love as if it were a hot bath and live happily ever after as if never having to get out of it again that is not how real love works there is no mindlessly falling into a lasting love it takes dogged determination to make it work love is not something that overtakes you as much as something you overtake there are three reasons falling in love isn’t enough to build a life together 1 falling in love is not an act of the will or a conscious choice therefore we have no control over it no matter how much we may want to fall in love we cannot make it happen we may not even be seeking the experience when it overtakes us as a result people tend to fall in love at in opportune times and with unlikely people to falling in love is not real love because it is effortless whatever we do in the in love state requires little discipline or conscious effort on our part therefore there is little we can do to make it last 3 falling in love does not consider the growth of the other in the fog of falling in love you don’t care that the other person needs to grow as much as you want to maintain how being with them makes you feel on the other hand true love the love that is necessary to make marriage work after falling in love wears off is a conscious act of the will requiring great effort and it’s primarily concerned with the growth of or what is best for the other this kind of love is intentional divinely ordained and requires a supernatural grace to overcome your own weaknesses past hurts and selfish desires it is not an easy love to show to your spouse but it is the only truly rewarding one it is the only love that has the potential to make the honeymoon lasts a lifetime the early years it seems it was less than a month after Paul and I got married that I became pregnant even though it wouldn’t be until August that Paul would be discharged at the end of the summer approached I was nearly bursting out of my uniform yet the red tape wouldn’t allow me to leave the service thankfully my supervisor the master gunnery sergeant was an incredibly kind man who told me to stay home and take care of myself when August came everything was finally in place for us to leave together so we made a trip to Texas to visit my family before heading back to Maine where Paul was from I was visibly pregnant with Gretchen by the time Paul met my parents my dad was a bit of a character who acted like he thought he was Wyatt Earp when he saw Paul he said get over here Yankee I want to take a look at you as I remember him from my childhood he was always smoking a cigarette and drinking a dr. pepper I think he scared Paul half to death but once they became better acquainted they got along pretty well when we got to Maine I fell in love with Paul’s parents right away they took me in as if I were their own daughter that was a good thing too because I was all alone in a strange place with no other friends or family when Paul started drinking again their home became a place of refuge for Gretchen and me back then Paul didn’t just drinks socially he drank until he was so stoned drunk he was violence Carrie I would quickly get out of the house and take Gretchen to his parents home until he sobered up he seemed to have a lot of things boiling beneath the surface that he was dealing with and they would come out looking for a fight when he drank eventually he had so many DWI driving while intoxicated offenses that the state of Maine was threatening to take his license away that was one of the factors that inspired us to move to Texas in hopes of making a clean start however that would not have worked out either had Paul not found something else in Texas that would transform his life discovering true love when we got to Texas in 1970 I had made the commitment to Billy that I would stop drinking it was only a few months later however that I ended up in a bar one night drunk enough to get into a violent fight that could easily have landed me in jail no matter how badly I wanted to change I couldn’t I didn’t know what to do sometime later Billy’s parents invited us to go to church with them in Corpus Christi it wasn’t the first time the Billy and I had gone to church together but it was the first time I had gone and heard the story of Jesus with my heart not just my ears there I was looking for a way to change and in that church service I heard it for the first time I heard there was a way to escape the pain and anger of my life and it had to do with understanding and accepting the love that comes from God alone you would have thought I would be overjoyed about that but my reaction was to run literally I ran out of that auditorium but what I had heard didn’t leave me I wrestled with it for the next three months then when I heard the message again in Victoria Texas at the end of that time I ran again somehow I knew it was the change I needed but it also scared me to the core the next day in downtown Victoria that particular pastor just happened to see me in a typewriter shop on Main Street he came in and started talking with me again he told me the story of Jesus and how he wanted to forgive me come into my life and free me from the mistakes of my past if I would only give my life to him again I ran out of the shop and down the street but he followed me and caught up with me on the street corner some distance away he asked me again why don’t you let Jesus come into your heart in life and save you I avoided his gaze and made excuses but he kept on asking me the same question over and over again finally I had no more excuses I broke down right there knowing I needed Jesus I knew I needed forgiveness and despite of all my upbringing and past anger I fell to my knees right there in the gutter in front of my car and asked Jesus into my life my life truly changed that day it was so significant I remember the exact date May 11th 1971 in an instant my heart was transformed because of that decision I would have to make many more tough decisions in the years to come decisions that would help me grow but the happiness Billy and I have today started with the decision I made that day on Main Street the point I want to make here is that meeting God on that street corner gave me the power to overcome myself that I had not previously had when we moved to Texas I had promised to turn over a new leaf only to discover it was rotten on both sides I couldn’t escape myself but when I heard that message in Corpus Christi I realized that the reason I couldn’t change was because only God could put inside of me what I needed to become the man I wanted to be I ran scared for three months but God caught up with me and Victoria and I have never been the same I immediately stopped drinking in my violent temper sieved for a while I started attending church as well as reading the Bible listening to tapes and learning as much about God as I could that change saved our marriage I found I had a new love in my heart that overcame my selfishness and began to change me in ways I had never thought possible though I didn’t fully realize it at the time I began to know real love and see it transformed my life and marriage I’d like to say things only got better from then on but the truth is we would have even tougher times to face in the coming years however I can say the troubles we had before that time were because I didn’t know any better in some ways I was like a scared injured animal striking out at anything that moved while the troubles we would face later were because I didn’t choose to exercise what I had come to know as real love

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