Our marriage came very close to failing after the suicide of our youngest son Alex (17). We had had 24 years of wonderful married life. In fact, we were, ‘at the top of the mountain,’ and then,pure evil attacked our household. Along with torture in a concentration camp, the suicide of your child is reportedly the worst thing that can happen to a human being! Not only are you left grieving the death of the child but you also have to face the devil in the form of, ‘Blame.’
Why didn’t we see it coming? Why wasn’t he stopped? Why, Why, Why? Jeannie took Alex’s suicide very badly for many reasons. A very dark cloud came over her and her shock and unbelievable grief and pain turned to anger and hatred toward herself, me and God. She became psychotic, suicidal and nearly lost her mind. The spiritual, emotional and mental strain was too much for her body and she would have died apart from emergency surgery to remove a double knot in her intestines.
She lost her faith and for two years she relentlessly blamed and accused me for Alex’s suicide. Two months after Alex’s suicide, my 53 year old sister died of cancer. For two years we lived in a nightmare. Statistics show that up to 19 out of 20 marriages fail after the suicide of a child and Alex’s suicide was extreme for many reasons. And yet, our marriage recovered and eventually triumphed! We want to pass on the keys for a Triumphant marriage to you.
You can watch our Triumph of Marriage video series starting with the first video – ‘Love turns to Hate after son’s suicide.’
Be sure to sign up for up-coming videos including
- A Source of Unconditional Love
How do you find supernatural love when all is lost?
- A Love that will never let you go
- Grief Upon Unbelievable Grief
God never designed marriage for the husband and wife to be at the center. He designed it for Him to be in the center! There are many reasons for this, but a very important one is that God provides a source of supernatural love that goes way beyond human love (that’s why it’s called super natural!). With the devil planning to destroy your marriage and the world system against you (e.g. 35% of all internet downloads are porn-related (WebRoot)), the only way you’re going to triumph in your marriage is with God’s supernatural power and love.
Love sets you free
God’s Love sets you free and allows you to be your real self, to fulfil your destiny and be who God designed you and your family to be! Many marriages and families lose their love, fun and peace because they allow themselves to be molded into something other than what God called them to be.
Love sets you free –
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor 3:17
Identify the pressures and storms
The value system of this world create pressure on your marriage, including:
- The pressure and weariness of everyday responsibilities;
- Financial pressure;
- Pressure to conform materially e.g. to ‘be like the Joneses,’
- Pressure to have the perfect family;
- Pressure to discern and resist the consequences of the value system of this world including damaging media, damaging values (e.g. promiscuity), damaging food and drugs etc.
Your marriage and your family are journeying through a cultural storm. And then on top of all of the pressure the Jesus promised us that we will have trouble! John 16:33. There will be unexpected storms that, unless you’re prepared, they will destroy your marriage and your family. For example:
The death or sickness of a loved one e.g. a child;
The loss of your job and/or finances; and
The loss of your home e.g. a natural disaster.
Thankfully, God’s power and love is available to equip you resist the pressures and to fly above the storms of life.
God’s supernatural love and power to triumph in my marriage
God’s supernatural love and power is available in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus triumphed over the devil, sin and even death itself and in receiving Him as your savoir and your lord His victorious life is available to you through the Holy Spirit.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Rom 5:5
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses. Acts 1:8
Furthermore, God has given us His promises that we can build our lives upon. If you build your life on God’s promises rather than the value system of this world, your marriage and your family will triumph over every direct and indirect attack that comes against you!!
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Pet 1:3-4
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. Matt 7:24-27
How do I get through each day?
For two years, our marriage was a nightmare. The pain and suffering from Alex’s suicide, Jeannie’s hatred and venomous attacks and the death of my sister made every day a huge challenge.But, I learnt in this period a secret that I want to pass on to you. I’m going to share with you the key to keep going in the most difficult circumstances. It’s a key that all the great men and women of God have known through the ages.
There is a place where you can receive everything you need to journey triumphantly through your day – love, comfort, strength, courage, peace, joy, wisdom, provision etc. It’s called the throne of grace! It’s God’s throne room and it’s where He will comfort you and imparts to you all that you need for every day. The provision is from the victorious life of Jesus and it’s imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.
In the worst two years of our marriage, I spent much of the time with God in deep deep sobbing. And God came very close to me and helped me.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Heb 5:7
God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. Ps 54:4
The fellowship of His sufferings. Phil 3:10
I go to the throne of grace every morning and through the day and I spend time with God in friendship and fellowship and I receive from Him supernatural love and power for victorious living. I don’t always feel like going to the throne of grace but I’m so grateful when I’ve broken through the inertia and I’ve spent time with God!God speaks to me in a still small voice within and His words to me quicken my spirit. I read His word (the Bible) and sometimes a friend will send me a scripture or a message.
Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me.Jer 15:16 (TLB)
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever. Ps 73:26
God’s grace gives you what you need to be able to ‘triumph’ every day.The most important thing you need is love. We all do. We were created to flow from love. As you draw near to God, He will fill your heart with His love (often I weep deeply as His love fills my heart).
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8
Our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him. Heb 13:20-21
5 Keys for a Happy Marriage
God is looking for Jesus to be glorified in you and in your marriage. His will is that your marriage triumphs and is filled with love and He has equipped you in Christ for this to be a reality.The following are keys for the Triumph of your Marriage!
His love in your heart will empower you to pray for your spouse. The battle over your marriage is taking place in the unseen world –
‘For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.’ Eph 6:12
The movie ‘Prayer Room’ is an excellent illustration of how to pray for your spouse.
You need to take up the position of authority God has given you in Christ Jesus (remember, Jesus triumphed over everything the devil threw at Him and even death itself). Ask trusted friends to pray with and for your marriage and do what the Bible says, ‘put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.’ Eph 6:13
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Jas 4:7
Resist him, standing firm in the faith. 1 Pet 5:9
In the darkest most painful months of our marriage, I would spend hours in the early hours of the morning crying out to God for Jeannie and our relationship. This would often be with deep sobbing and sometimes prostrate on my face before the Lord! God hears and answers quickly the prayers from a humble and contrite heart.
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chron 7:14
Also, God’s love in your heart will empower you to take some very practical steps to enable reconciliation in your marriage including:
When you’ve been deeply hurt it’s very hard to forgive! And yet, on the Cross, when Jesus was in absolute agony, He forgave us!! His life is in you and you can forgive, but you’ll have to take up your cross to do so i.e. to lay down your life.
You’re motivation to lay down your life is God’s glory – may Jesus be seen in your marriage.
One indication that you have truly forgiven your spouse is that you can pray that God will bless them and really mean it!
Your words are incredibly power – they have the power of life and death– Prov 18:21. You can bring healing and life to your marriage by what you say. This too may require you to lay your life down! If your spouse is being unkind or even cruel to you, don’t respond in kind. Instead, respond with kind words. Speak blessings and not curses. It is just as important to do this whether you are with your spouse or with a friend. Remember, the battle is taking place in the unseen world and the any negative words you speak over your spouse will be used by the devil to cause further pain and division.
For many years after Alex’s suicide, Jeannie would off load her pain and suffering on me. This would often involve accusing me for Alex’s suicide because of wrong decisions made in coming to the US or moving from New York to Chicago, or the school Alex went to etc. Her words caused me terrible pain and suffering but I knew God wanted me to love her with gentle and kind answers and not to react aggressively to her. By God’s grace and the love He had poured into my heart at the Throne of Grace, most of the time I didn’t react to her (although I did slip a few times!!) and, in this way, I kicked Satan in the teeth and God’s Kingdom of love and light was released in our marriage!
Love your spouse through their love language (The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts – Gary Chapman). Do this sensitively so as to have the maximum effect. This too may require you to lay your life down! When you reach out in love to your spouse, you leave yourself vulnerable – can you think of anyone more vulnerable than Jesus on the Cross! He came from Heaven to love us and we tortured and crucified Him!! There may be times when you feel crushed and humiliated because your love was rejected and maybe even returned with unkindness and hate. Never give up but take your pain again to the Throne of Grace and exchange it for God’s love. Your motivation to keep going is that Jesus will be glorified in your marriage!
One of Jeannie’s love languages is ‘words of affirmation’ (or love letters) and, although I doubted she would read a whole letter (because of her hatred and darkness at the time), I thought I could reach her heart with just a few words. Early in the morning, I would place brief love messages around the house where I knew she would come across them e.g. underneath her car keys, in her calendar etc. At first she never acknowledged them but I knew they were having an impact because of a very powerful biblical principle – it’s the principle of light and it’s incredibly powerful! Here’s how it works:
When Satan has his hand on someone’s life, they are in spiritual darkness and they can’t see the truth. You can have the strongest apologetics or shout until you’re blue in the face, but they won’t understand what you’re saying because –they’re in the dark. And, the only way to drive out darkness is with light. Where is the spiritual light to drive out the spiritual darkness? It’s in you – Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Matt 5:14. And, the way the light is released from you is through the cross – as you lay your life down, the kingdom of God is released from within you – and it changes your spouse and your world!
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24
When Jesus laid down His life on the Cross, He opened up the way for the salvation of the world. When you lay your life down in loving your spouse (and others), you release the Kingdom of God from within you (spiritual light), to enable them to see and come out of their darkness!!
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18
Another part of Jeannie’s love language is quality time and, on Friday and/or Saturday night, I arranged for us to have a meal and then watch a movie together in front of an open fire. We have that quality time together today!
This is probably the hardest stage of seeing your marriage triumph. It’s the first attribute mentioned in the definition of love – 1 Cor 13:4. This is where God will truly test your heart! Do you really believe He will cause your marriage to triumph? Do you really trust Him? All the great men and women of God had periods of having to wait for God’s salvation to come through. He is preparing you for a great work that He has planned for you.
Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.Heb 6:12
There may be many times when you feel like giving up. Nothing seems to be changing or you think you’re seeing a breakthrough and then you have a major setback. Again and again in scripture we’re encouraged not to fear but have faith. God is with you and He will never leave you.And, if God is with you who can be against you!! Trust the Lord and receive His peace – you are going to triumph in your marriage.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake youHeb 13:5
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
In quietness and trust is your strength Is 30:15
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Heb 10:23
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”Heb 10:35-37
Where to find Help
There are some excellent sources of help available for your marriage to triumph. For example:
The Marriage Course – this is a series of seven sessions, designed to help couples invest in their relationship and build a strong marriage – www.themarriagecourses.org
www.loveandrespect.com – ‘love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man.’
There may be some excellent marriage counselors locally either at your church or another church.
We are running a Joseph Conference 23rd-24th September in Atlanta – we’d love to meet you and to help you to Triumph in your Marriage. Sign up here [link to come].
Go to the right counselor!
Be very careful who you receive advice and guidance from. We’ve come across many examples where the marriage counseling made things worse because the counselor based their advice on a secular worldview rather than a Biblical worldview. Simply, a secular worldview puts man at the center whereas a Biblical worldview puts God at the center.
The secular counselor will be mainly concerned to establish if your needs are being met and, if they’re not, will often advise divorce.
A counselor with a Biblically-based worldview will be asking how you can glorify God in your marriage. God’s glory comes first and then your marriage will triumph.
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33
If Jeannie and I had taken the advice of a secular counselor we would have been divorced several times over and we would not have been able to share our story and, hopefully, help millions of marriages around the world to Triumph!
Can your counselor empathize with you?
To empathize means to understand and share the feelings of another. Unless your counselor has experienced the same or similar life experiences e.g. the loss of a child, they won’t be able to empathize with you. They’ll have compassion (a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another that motivates a desire to help) but it’s not the same as empathy. For various reasons e.g. you highly respect the prospective counselors, you may be willing to accept a lack of empathy. That’s your choice. For Jeannie and me, we’ve had a number of very disappointing conversations where the counselor had a genuine desire to help but it was very clear they had no understanding of the depth of pain, suffering and darkness we were going through. It actually made things worse.
It’s wonderful that God doesn’t just love us from a distance but Jesus actually came and lived in our broken world for a while and He experienced all the pain and suffering we go through. Therefore, He is able to empathize with us and to give us the grace we need to help us in our time of need! These are some of the things Jesus experienced in the time He was with us on Earth:
- Brokenhearted from the loss of a loved one – not only Lazarus (‘Jesus wept’ – John 11:35) but God’s heart breaks all the time for His children that are separated from Him by sin. Also, Jesus died of a broken heart when His father was separated from Him when the sins of the world were laid upon Him on the Cross!
- Oppression – Jesus experienced tremendous pressure and attack in the spiritual realm and from the religious leaders.
- Abandonment – his disciples abandoned Him in His hardest hour!
- Misunderstood – through ignorance and evil intent, Jesus was misunderstood through His public ministry. He poured His love and life out for the people but they ended up demanding His crucifixion!
- Falsely Accused – the religious leaders falsely accused Him and this lead to His trial and crucifixion.
- Physical abuse – Jesus endured the most gruesome torture and death on the Cross.
- Spiritual attack – Satan threw everything he could at Jesus but, He never yielded and triumphed in every way!.
- Unfaithfulness – Although Jesus was never married to a single women, the Church is described as His bride and is compared to being His wife (‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church Eph 5:25). He knows exactly what it’s like to have your spouse turn their back on your love, to reject you, be unfaithful etc.
Because Jesus experienced all of the things mentioned above and lots more, He can empathize with us and, through the Holy Spirit, you can receive His victorious life, enabling you to triumph in your marriage and your life!
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. Heb 2:14
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb 4:15-16
He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you! John 16:14
How can our friends help us?
As with your counselors, choose wisely which of your friends you want to confide in. These are some of the characteristics you should consider:
- Love – do you see God’s love in their marriage and do you sense a deep love for you and other people?
- Respect – do they respect one another and other people?
- Honorable – do you ever hear them running other people down?
- Faithful – do they speak well of each other behind their backs?
- Empathy – have they had life experiences that equip them to understand and share your pain?
- Trust – do you trust them e.g. to be confidential and to give you biblically based advice?
- Integrity – are they really interested in helping you (sadly, sometimes people want to hear your challenges to make them feel better in their own problems!).
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