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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

God's Surprising Voice in the Marriage Doghouse

imageI was angry. I would walk in the night and call out to God. I thought I was going to snap. I don't know what that means, but I was overwhelmed. I thought, "If I hang onto this fight with Colleen, we have daggers for each other. If I let it go, I'm destined to be a putz." 

Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership

Love: Who Will I Spend My Life With?

God's Surprising Voice in the Marriage Doghouse

By Evan Nehring

Our Mosinee house had a shed in the back yard where we stacked some of our firewood. The woodshed and the doghouse have a similar connotation, don't they? Someone’s been naughty!
Photo Credit: maxymedia on Flickr Creative Commons
I don't think I ever felt so disconnected from Colleen as when we looked for new direction after the church plant. Before our last day at the church, I set my eyes on an MBA program. I would be going into business. It made sense to me. Before I went to Bible College, I had received a scholarship for a business program at the University of Western Ontario at London. Now I would pick up where I left off.
We had initial agreement and I found a good online program through the University of Wisconsin system where I could take a few masters level business courses to prepare for the actual MBA. I quickly worked through Organizational Management and then Marketing, before the money ran out. Now the commitment would involve large student loans and a long-term commitment to a business career.
Colleen couldn’t see it. We were both working full-time and my long study hours were taxing our relationship. I didn’t want to work in sales the rest of my life and was determined to press on. I was angry. I would walk in the night and call out to God. I thought I was going to snap. I don't know what that means, but I was overwhelmed. I thought, "If I hang onto this fight with Colleen, we have daggers for each other. If I let it go, I’m destined to be a putz."
I let it go. The verdict is still out on my destiny of being a putz.
Part of what helped me in that moment, though, was a deep belief that God was bigger than this disagreement. It’s never exactly been settled. I still think I would have aced the MBA and brought home a new level of income for our family. But God’s words came to me through Colleen. I have to trust that her resistance to my plan was part of God’s plan for us.
I’m over it. I’ve latched onto new challenges and I’m reasonably comfortable with how we’re able to provide for our family. The doghouse isn’t fun. In some ways it helped me define what I’ll fight for in our marriage and what I’ll let go. I’m certain the MBA fight would have ended some marriages. In the “for better, for worse” part of the marriage vows, the doghouse is the “for worse.”

I'm pretty sure I'd have never started a blog without the doghouse...or written a book.

Comments are Always Welcome...

Have you been to the doghouse? Have you heard God's voice there?

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  1. Great post..that's the beauty and strength of marriage. ..the shaping and refining. Very encouraging words, thank you brother.

    1. Yeah, there's been quite a bit of shaping and refining, Andrew. God seems to use marriage for that. On the other hand, I'm still me. There's always that tension between growing as individuals and growing together in marriage. The Father helps us with that.

  2. More people, Christians especially, need to realize it is okay to "let go" of some dreams. You point out that it is okay. Sometimes we don't know what things will look like if we let go of a dream or plan, but even if we hold onto them we still don't know what things will look like. Remember the NFL guy that got paralyzed back in the 90s? How many guys said "no" to the NFL (or were told "no"), and they may have avoided a potential life-changing injury - not necessarily as bad as being paralyzed. Sorry about the sports metaphor for the non-sports people; I tend to dislike them, especially in sermons by super-gungho sports fans. Anyway... I know you didn't go that angle with this, but you definitely can. Americans would probably feel much more at peace in general (Christians included just as much) if they didn't hold so tight to the "I must succeed at all costs". Sometimes it is the right thing, and sometimes it is not. Thanks Evan. Oh!... and Canadians would probably experience the same peace :)

    1. I appreciate your perspective Brian! It can be challenging to be a committed, persevering, disciplined, non-flaky person, but still be willing to be flexible when life turns unexpectedly. Your reminder that sometimes the alternate path is's a welcome addition to the conversation.