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If Only

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The enemy killed her husband. As a military man, deployed overseas, doing his duty for his country, he gave the ultimate sacrifice. But after 17 1/2 years of marriage, this woman entered widowhood, another immeasurable sacrifice.

Brokenhearted, she writes to me, telling some of her story. "My husband and I had the sweetest 2 1/2 years of courtship anyone could experience." But she relates that after that they had marital troubles for most of the marriage because they did not understand the truth of Ephesians 5:33. She reports to me that they were ignorant about a husband loving his wife and a wife respecting her husband. "I see how two young tender hearts fell in love and through ignorance, got on the crazy cycle and never could figure out how to get off it. Sometimes it spun so crazy it made us crazy. Sometimes it spun only slowly but none-the-less I think to some degree it was always spinning."

With profound regret she writes, "I would give anything to be able to rewind (the) years and give my husband a new bride with this wisdom. I know this is not possible. I trust my Lord and Savior with my whole life. If He decides to ever send a future husband to me with (His) help, I will work to keep my next marriage on the energizing cycle."

She regretted that she had failed to energize her husband by meeting his need to feel respected for who he was as a human being created in the image of God. She yearned for the chance to hold back a spirit of contempt, realizing no human responded to disrespect. But the enemy took his life and her chance.

"Although it may appear too late, I have asked my husband's forgiveness for my unintentional mistakes of ignorance and forgiven him of his too. I can't convey to you with words how grateful I am for reading your book."

She then says that through the wisdom of the Love and Respect message in the Bible, "God has given me complete healing and peace over my marriage."

What do you feel about regret in marriage?

I feel sorrowful after hearing a spouse bewail in the face of irreversible regrets. For example, a husband drowns and his wife cannot tell him of her deepest and fondest feelings. She avoided that conversation in recent years due to her chronic displeasure over his manly propensities, which now at his death did not deserve her hollow complaints. Mournfully she whispers, "Oh, if only I had one more hour with him."

A wife dies in an automobile accident and the husband dies a thousand times as his regrets stab him through and through. If only he had not been so angry and harsh. If only he had spent more time telling her of his gratitude toward her as a woman, wife and mother. How could he let his self-focus and pettiness block out the wonder of her person? Crying for the first time in years, he castigates himself as the most despicable of humans.

Is there good news in this? Yes, for those of us still married! We can awaken to the power of regret and change course.

A wife writes her husband, "I'm having a hard time writing as there are tears in the way of my vision because... I regret not understanding enough to express these inner thoughts in the past... I've always been aware of the fact that you've 'laid down your life' for us but I didn't understand (your) need or how to express what I knew inside." She acted. She had time! She prevented regret.

A husband pines, "I regret not learning how to be a good husband and to trust God in my marriage earlier." He then depressingly tells me that "it took a divorce" to awaken him to the wonder of his wife. Fortunately, neither had remarried. Like my own father and mother, they came back together. This man did something about his regret. It was not too late to face off with his lack of tender, loving care. He pursued his wife again with his new understanding. Because of his change, she reopened her heart.

A wife and mother confesses, "I have torn down my house with my own tongue. I can see that I have expected my husband to relate to me like another woman would and have been very frustrated and just 'knew' that he was a selfish jerk...However, I feel incredible excitement about knowing the truth and understanding how to do what God wants me to!... My girls are all teenagers and I regret that I have not grasped the truth sooner but by God's grace they will see a change for the rest of my life and I will be open and honest about my wrong doing. I just am so excited about this information..."

How about you? Is there anything happening right now in your marriage that is certain to lead to regret? The Bible teaches, "You don't want to end your life full of regrets" (Proverbs 5:11 MSG).

Friend, do you have the freedom and the opportunity to avoid groaning, "If only"?

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider