Wake Up Call

January 7, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Jane Thornton –

Molly sighed, plumped her pillow, and rolled over again. Hank’s sigh echoed hers. After stilted conversation at dinner, she had lingered in the bath, debating ways to heal their marriage. She hated the arguments alternating with silences full of mutual hard stares. Her mother’s advice resounded through the years: “God can heal anything; He can restore a romance.” Molly humphed. I still feel romance—when I’m not angry or hurt or tired. Does Hank?

So she shaved her legs, slathered on musky, floral lotion, put on her not-too-obvious shorty nighty, and here she lay. She chanced to bump her smooth, silky leg against Hank’s hairy, hard one. Molly sighed again.

She heard Hank inhale and felt his calloused hand rest on her forearm. Molly turned invitingly. Hank stared at the ceiling. He released his breath only to draw another. “I think we need to see a counselor.”

Stunned, Molly sputtered and bit back a cry. Oh, God! Oh, God! She screamed in her head. She managed a breathy, “You do?” as all the fluid in her body rushed to gather behind her eyes and at the top of her sinuses.

“Yeah. I got a name from Steve Dell.”

Molly felt herself shrinking. “You did?” she choked.

“Yeah. What do you think about it?”

Failure crashed in and strangled her. “I guess that would be okay.” She managed a whisper, then held her breath. Hank seemed so calm, breathing evenly.

Silence reigned for a few moments. “I’ll make an appointment then.”


The previous passage is a snippet from my first—unpublished—novel, Menace. You know what they say: Write about what you know.

Eighteen years ago, I was much further into denial than my character Molly. We had two very young children. Tired and stressed at times, I still would have rated our marriage at a sevenish. Wes’s request sent my world reeling. The only people I knew who had been to marriage counselors were divorced.

Intellectually, I believed the advice of Molly’s mother, and my own, that God can heal anything. I’d been blessed with a mom who shared enough of her own story to know that marriage doesn’t bloom without watering and pruning.

But a counselor? My husband’s suggestion shouted to my shaken soul that I wasn’t giving him enough water, that I needed pruning, that I had let our marriage wither. I had been rolling along content with a measly seven rating, and I was crushed to know I’d been oblivious to Wes’s misery.

Nowadays, Wes would probably call misery an exaggeration, if only to spare my feelings, but I needed the shock to call me back to my priorities. We went to counseling. We learned to talk. We kept learning. A few years later, we attended the His Needs, Her Needs seminar where we forced ourselves into more soul searching and more communication.

And now our marriage is a ten, and we’ve lived happily ever after.

Truly, God used our Christian counselor to strengthen our commitment. He has used several seminars through the years to grow our relationship with each other and Him. We’re not perfect, but we’re doing better at living up to the pledge engraved on our wedding rings—committed to love.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6 RSV).

Comment prompt: Will you share any wake up calls that improved your marriage?

About Jane Thornton

Jane Thornton, English teacher, wife, and mom of two almost grown children, strives to break free of the automatic boring label attached to those roles. Her two suspense novels eagerly await a willing publisher, and her articles search for inspiration in the humor and tears of life.
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2 Responses to “Wake Up Call”
  1. Lee Carver says:

    Jane, there was a time I felt our marriage had settled into a sort of productive grind. We worked hard and parented two fine teenagers, but the delight had disappeared. I read an article on marriage when needed most, quoting Rev. 2:4-5: “Remember the height from which you have fallen!…do the things you did at first.” The author encouraged couples to return to the romantic words and deeds of courtship and early marriage. Since the need for romance was my longing–he didn’t seem to notice the void–I began the process without mentioning it. The response was immediately gratifying. Skip to the present: we celebrate 45 years of marriage on Sunday, and he’s at least as romantic as I am. Praying together daily keeps our love growing.

  2. Veronica Hobson says:

    Very gutsy sharing, Jane. Glad you were able to grow in your marriage. Unfortunately a lot of us don’t learn those lessons until after the divorce.

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