By Mr. Duan, translated by Will Brown
We have been married for over sixteen years now, and it is only by God’s grace that we are still together. Before I trusted in the Lord, many times the thought came into my mind, “I want to divorce my wife.” Even though I had these thoughts often, I never mentioned them; I only sought to force myself to maintain an unsatisfying marriage.
After eleven years of marriage, my wife and I began to argue more and more, and we began to experience more and more isolation and non-communication. Often I was inclined to just ignore her. I felt like she never listened to me or heard me. I would belittle her, and my attitudes toward her were very cold. Thankfully we shared a son together; he seemed to be holding our relationship together.
Although I had my own work pursuits, I wasted lots of time filling in the loneliness of my heart. Some people fill their loneliness with affairs, liquor, cigarettes, or drugs. But I chose to fill my lonely heart with mahjong, online games, and TV. I would go and play mahjong with friends, starting on Saturday morning and playing until Sunday. I felt easily bored and was constantly switching between different kinds of entertainment.
At that time, it wasn’t just when I was alone that I played these games; I would play at night while my kid was doing his homework. I wouldn’t let him watch me, but of course, he would sneak looks at my games. When he started looking at my games, I would yell at him loudly, and sometimes when he wouldn’t listen to me, I would hit him. To sum it up, we were a family of three, and I had a bad relationship with my wife and with my kid.
In October 2016, my wife notified me through WeChat that we ought to just get a divorce. I thank God that while our marriage was broken, God began to move and save our marriage.
On November 18, 2016, my wife invited me to attend a couples retreat sponsored by FamilyLife, a Weekend to Remember. That night was a turning point for my life. I returned home with this thought in my mind: “I want to believe.” It was so moving that I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, the pastor gave a talk called “The Power in Marriage” and at the end asked who was willing to trust Jesus. I had been pushed to make a decision for Christ before, but this time was different. It was from within me that I wanted to believe in Jesus.
In the afternoon, we had a time when we stood up and made a vow to each other to commit to our marriages. We stood up and faced each other as a couple and completed these vows together and cried. It was at this point that our marriage began to be restored.
After we returned home and ate supper, we went to bed early and talked until about 3:00 a.m. This was the first time I said “I’m sorry.” A few days later I also apologized to my son. After this, it was like magic—I was suddenly completed attracted to God, slowly learning to pray and read the Bible. We began to have a Sunday night family worship time. We led our son in reading a book to help him prepare for adolescence. My wife and I also led a couples small group. Eventually I was leading my son in reading the Bible every morning for thirty minutes and praying for him. I began to love more and more reading the Bible and praying.
There have been many changes in my habits: No more playing online games; after forty years of drinking liquor, I have stopped. My bad temper has slowly changed, and I rarely lose my temper. My wife is more gentle, submitting. My son feels safer now, and he is more willing to submit to his parents. Now our family has a feeling of love to it.
I thank the Lord for His calling on me. After trusting the Lord, I sensed the Lord calling me to study in seminary. Another area I am thankful for is this: This year God has gifted us with a new baby. Our son is fifteen years old, and I am fifty years old. God’s grace is enough for us, and He has given us courage to be able to accept this gift.
These things all occurred because God willingly pursued us, loved us, prepared salvation for us, and moved us to believe Him. We still have many areas of weakness; we still have differences as a couple and conflicts with our son. But we believe that our marriage and our family will more and more become pleasing to God.