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From Surviving to Thriving: The Restoration of a Life and Marriage

From Surviving to Thriving: The Restoration of a Life and Marriage

“Bye babe, love you”, I said loud enough for my husband to hear in the backroom as I walk out the door to meet a friend. He replied in kind.

The memory flashed through my mind.

Surviving, not Thriving

It was not so long ago I could freely walk out the door without an argument. For years darkness, insecurity, and paranoia enslaved my husband and irradicated even the tiniest glimmer of joy in his life.

His wounded and tortured soul manifested in desperate attempts to control us; shaming the kids and me for having fun, pouting when we would go out with friends, stifling conflict, and shutting down any attempts at expressing feelings all the while having no control of his own rages, suicidal threats, and emotional meltdowns.

For years our marriage was one of misery and tolerance.  Of either accepting this is as good as it gets or divorce.

Why God? Why did it seem as if everyone else was flourishing while we barely crawled to the next day?

Then in 2010, my husband had what appeared to be a stroke (a cerebral vascular event) quickly followed in rapid succession by migraines then nightmares, realizing these were actually memories of an abusive childhood.

But God

As I look back, I’m amazed I stayed, but I was a stay-at-home mom with three children. I desperately wanted my marriage and family to remain intact – to have the loving marriage and family I dreamed of.

Remembering the vow I had made before God and man, I didn’t want a divorce. I just wanted the misery to end.

It was around this time I learned from a couple of well-known Bible teachers to pray and speak God’s Word out loud.

To take God at His Word and pray His promises over my life, my marriage, and the members of my family.

I considered myself a Christian but was in a crisis of faith.  Was I going to act like I believed what I said I believed or not?

I read the Bible and prayed but did not expect God’s Word to manifest in my life.

The fact was I was victorious in Christ as a believer but living in defeat. As C.S. Lewis says we are:

“…like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.”

I had not accepted my invitation of a holiday at the sea and not taken hold of what was rightfully mine as a blood-bought believer in Jesus Christ.


I learned our warfare was not against flesh and blood, but against the evil powers of the spirit world (Ephesians 6:12). Speaking God’s Word not only has power in the physical world but in the spiritual as well.

I started to pray and speak God’s Word out loud over my husband, marriage, and children on a daily, and sometimes moment-by-moment basis. At first, my children were perplexed, but in time thought nothing of their mom walking around praying scripture out loud to no one in particular.

It was around this time too I started attending a monthly class at a local church on how to be a godly wife and mother.

I started to implement what I was learning and my husband responded. I attended that class for about 10 years!

While my circumstances didn’t improve overnight, I could once again feel a glimmer of joy growing inside me. God’s Word was going out of my mouth into the spirit world, but also down into my heart.

I had a renewed sense of hope for the future. It was during this time I discovered one of my favorite Scripture verses:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Thriving, not Surviving

God has done amazing work in our lives and in our marriage. I gaze into my husband’s eyes feeling the intimate warmth of young love again.  Once again, I am in the throes of marital bliss.

It has not been easy.  At times God’s work requires those willing to fight.  While our friends were busy saving for retirement, we were slogging through the sometimes-impenetrable jungle of spiritual warfare saving my husband’s life and our marriage.

Finally, in 2018 my husband received an accurate diagnosis of CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  It has taken countless hours and uncounted dollars of medical treatments, counseling, and medication – for both of us – to get where we are today.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Even if you get strange looks, keep searching until you find what you need. Help is available.

Satan would like nothing more than for us to stay stuck in our misery. One of his greatest lies is leading us to believe we are the only ones struggling and we will be met with confused looks should we dare share our situation.

Not so.

Self Care Tips in the Middle of Marriage Struggles

Whatever the case may be, self-care is a must whether your spouse is supportive or not, especially if you are going through a difficult season.

Here are a few of my self-care tips to pursue:

–Christian Counseling

–A Safety Plan

–Support groups (online and in-person)

–Time with family and friends

–Women’s Bible study

–Exercise and a healthy diet

–Hobbies or things you enjoy, etc.

My husband and I made the safety plan together when things were calm. It included constructive actions for both our well-being when he was triggered, a distraction to pull him out of a flashback, verbal affirmations, physical distance, agreed separation by time, location, and event, etc.

This was crucial for my well-being since I now had an escape from the massive barrage of pain and darkness he would unintentionally heave on me at times. It was as if he were drowning in a raging sea and I was trying to save him only for him to pull me under in his desperation to survive. A task way beyond my means.


The man I married is back.  My soulmate has returned.

While things are not always perfect and we still have our ups and downs, gone is the shattered boy – the precious innocent life beaten and abused to the brink of death.  In his place stands a brave and courageous man rebuilt by the strong hands of our God who never let him go.

I always thought of myself as being willing and ready to do God’s will.  “Here I am, send me”.

Had God asked me on my wedding day if I was willing to help my soon-to-be husband fight for his life my naïve self would have given a resounding “yes”!

Did I have any idea the God of the universe would use me to help rescue my husband, and therefore subsequent generations, from the clutches of Satan?  No.  And today I stand in awe and am humbled at the work the Lord has done in and through us.

The Lord has lovingly pulled us back from the edge.  So far back in fact it’s out of view for all the celebrating.


Susan is a wife, mother, and Christian writer who continues to be amazed by God’s grace in her life. When not writing, you can find her enjoying family and friends, reading or hiking.  To connect with her and read more visit:


Wife of 20+ years. Mom to 3 children. Love sharing my life with weary hearts so that we can know the One who is Good, who is in Control, and Whose strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.