Breaking Up and Getting Back Together: About Me and My Wife


Anonymous asked a question:

Can you please give the testimony of you and your wife?


Hey dear friend, I wrote on that a little bit here, here, and in my book here.

I met my wife about nine years ago (!) and while I eventually grew interested in her, she really did not want to be with me. At some point, she said she’d pray about it, and I waited about seven months. We sort of semi-dated, and at the three year mark, she broke it off. I was devastated, but I also understood: she had seen my darkness and it was too much for her. I was addicted to porn, I had anger problems, I lacked self-control, I was not the man I could be. Any rational woman would’ve broken it off with me.

She thought it was over but I kept a bit of hope. Over the ensuing months, I quit porn, sought counseling, and I had a complete breakdown. I took a two month sabbatical to really confront my own issues and reinvigorate my faith.

Here’s the cool part. During the two month break, I happened to be traveling up north on a personal road trip, and my wife-to-be, who I hadn’t seen in about six months, happened to be in the area I was driving through. She had just quit med school to rediscover her own career path. And we met at a cafe. I told her I still loved her, and she said, “Okay. Let’s try again.” Three years later, we were married.


The thing is, if my wife-to-be didn’t quit med school and if I didn’t have a breakdown, we would’ve never met up at the cafe. In no way am I saying that “God made her quit medical school and made me have a breakdown so we could get married.” There was way too much pain in both of those things and I refuse to believe God acts that way. At the same time, such a coincidence is so startling that we can’t imagine how our ups and downs can come together to form a rich tapestry that we could not possibly foresee right now. This is why I don’t believe in “soul-mates” or wishlists or “ideal types” or “love at the first sight.” These things might have a little merit, but the person you end up with (or your chosen life of singleness or celibacy) will be way cooler than you could possibly fathom, and the way you’ll get there will often surprise you. I hope we’re not too beholden to a particular mold of how we think things should go. You’ll get humbled out of that pretty fast.

A last thing: It would’ve been okay if things didn’t work out. Not everything works out, and that’s okay. Whether or not I got back together with my girlfriend-at-the-time was besides the point. The hurt had to happen for the richness of life to round me out. I’m not saying all pain is good pain, and we must certainly fight against much of it. But I’m saying that life in all its goodness and grittiness has something to offer. Too many of us (including me) just expect romance to go on a certain track, and when it doesn’t, we devalue our own worth.

A setback in romance doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough. A break-up isn’t the end. Singleness isn’t a deficit (and many times it’s a choice and a gift). A bad season of a relationship doesn’t define the whole thing. These things can hurt, but they’re also not you. And if you must work on something in yourself, it can’t be about romance. You need wholeness between you and God before you can be whole with someone else. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to get that right.

J.S.


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