Love Renewed: Paul and Tina Meek
About the Guest
"My marriage was the closest thing to hell on earth." Join us for today's broadcast when homemaker Tina Meek describes what life was like before she and her husband, Paul, gave their marriage to the Lord and attended a FamilyLife Marriage Conference.
“My marriage was the closest thing to hell on earth.”
Love Renewed: Paul and Tina Meek
Tina: I'm very verbal. My husband is not, and his reaction would be just "Tell me what you want me to do. Fine, there, I did it." And I’m supposed to be happy, but I want more. I want to know his feelings. I want to know what he thinks, and he just wants to know what he has to do to make you be quiet.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How do you make a marriage work when the differences between the two of you are pushing you toward isolation?'
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I have to wonder how many of the folks listening to us right now if they were honest would say that they find themselves looking across the table at the person to whom they are married and they think to themselves, I’m just not sure there’s a way to make this thing work.
Dennis: You know, in marriage we fail to meet one another's expectations, and sometimes it's not unrealistic expectations, it's just normal, reasonable expectations of what marriage ought to be.
Bob: This week we have been encouraging our FamilyLife Today listeners to consider attending one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. We are going to be hosting about 50 of these conferences in cities all around the country this fall.
As a special incentive for our listeners if you register this week and you identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener when you and your spouse register at the regular registration rate we are going to send at no additional cost a certificate for another couple to attend as your guests absolutely free. So it’s a buy-one-get one free registration to the Weekend to Remember. You can go with some friends or you can send the certificate to someone who lives in another city but when you register at the regular registration rate we will send you a certificate for a second registration absolutely free.
It’s good only through the weekend and you have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener to take full advantage of this offer. So if you register at FamilyLife Today.com there’s a promo code box that you will see on the registration form type my name in that box. Type “Bob” in there and when you register you’ll automatically receive the second registration at no additional cost. Or you can call at 1-800-FL-TODAY and say I listen to FamilyLife Today and we want to go to the Weekend to Remember this fall and get registered over the phone. We will send along the certificate for the second registration absolutely free. We need to hear from you before the end of the weekend so now is the time to call FL TODAY or register online at FamilyLife Today.com. For the two of you to get away and have a great weekend away together at one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences.
Dennis: That's right, and all this week, too, Bob, we've been talking to some of those who have been to the FamilyLife Marriage Conference, and we have with us on the line Tina Meek from East Leroy, Michigan. Tina, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Tina: Thank you, it's good to be here.
Dennis: Now, Tina, you and your husband – well, you started out your marriage, with a storybook beginning, right?
Tina: That was my plan, but that is not how it worked.
Dennis: What happened?
Tina: When we began our marriage, even there we were not ready to be married. My husband was a new Christian, I had fallen away from the Lord and was not living my life as I should, either. So we brought a lot of baggage into the marriage.
Bob: I have to tell you, more and more, as I go to FamilyLife Marriage Conferences, Tina, and talk to couples, I'm amazed at the backgrounds and the situations that couples do bring into a marriage and the impact that that has on trying to make a marriage work. What were you guys experiencing in the early days of your marriage?
Tina: Well, there was a lot of expectations that we both had. I had an idea of what a husband should be. He had his idea of what a wife should be, and neither of us had the same idea.
Bob: You know, in the first five years of marriage, for a lot of couples that's the toughest part of a marriage. You're making a lot of adjustments, and that is when a lot of couples will say, "We made a huge mistake," and they'll toss in the towel. Did you ever think about that?
Tina: I think we both did – I know we both did. We've talked about it since then. We both knew that divorce was wrong in God's eyes, but secretly we both hoped the other person would leave.
Tina: We wouldn't be the bad guy.
Dennis: I've heard you describe your marriage as the closest thing to hell on earth …
Tina: … that I ever want to experience, yes.
Dennis: What's behind that statement?
Tina: We hurt each other a lot. There was so much anger between both of us that at times we didn't care if we embarrassed or humiliated the other one, which brought further anger and further resentment. We lived in the same house, but we were not a couple. To say I loved my husband, you would never have heard me say that, and I don't think he would have said that about me, either. It was not all his fault, it was not all my fault, it was a joint thing, and we took the attitude that once our spouse does the right thing, then we will do the right thing.
Dennis: To add additional hurt, you were also told you weren't able to have any children.
Dennis: You all then attempted to adopt.
Dennis: But God closed the doors. Do you think he closed the doors because your marriage wasn't ready for children?
Tina: Yes, I do. If I had had children, I would have devoted myself to them and totally closed the door on my husband.
Dennis: Well, in the middle of all this anger and kind of this dark valley you all were walking through, somehow you found out about the FamilyLife Marriage Conference.
Tina: Yes. My sister, Leah, she paid for it, told us, "Here is where it is. This is the date. I want you to go." We thought, "Well, it's a free weekend in a hotel. Okay, fine, we will go."
Bob: Okay, and you show up at the hotel, and the conference is getting started, and what do you remember about Friday night or about Saturday or about what started to unfold in the conference?
Tina: I guess, as we sat and we listened to what was being said, what the different speakers were saying, there were so many things that hit home with us, things that pertained to our marriage, and one of the problems with our marriage was communication.
I am very verbal, and I will say exactly how I feel and what I think. My husband is not, and his reaction would be, "Just tell me what you want me to do. Fine, there, I did it," and I'm supposed to be happy, but I want to know his feelings. I want to know what he things, and he just wants to know what he has to do to make you be quiet.
Dennis: He just wants the bottom line.
Tina: Yes. The fact that we had to sit and communicate that was a difficult thing but a good thing. It was also difficult, though, even for me, because I had to start telling him my true feelings and my deep thoughts.
Bob: You know, over and over again, Dennis, couples tell us at the end of one of these events that the projects are the highlight for them – getting alone, husband and wife, working through – and there are five of them in the course of the weekend, and they take about 45 minutes each to complete the project – those times wind up being the pivotal moments in the weekend for a lot of these couples. In fact, Tina, on Saturday morning, the project that you go through is a project where you write a love letter. Do you remember that one?
Tina: Yes, I do. I could not write one. Our marriage was at a point that I could not write a love letter. I wrote a letter of hurt. That was very hard for us, but it was a good thing also. It opened their eyes to see just how hard our hearts were – the anger that we were carrying, the bitterness that we were carrying. To say that I was married to someone that I'm supposed to spend the rest of my life with, and I cannot write you a love letter, and that was very hard.
Dennis: Tina, it's been 17 years since you wrote that letter and yet it's still pretty emotional, isn't it?
Tina: It is. It's a part of my life that I'm not proud of, I'm not happy about. I have a wonderful husband now, and I could sit down and write him a love letter very easily now. I wish I could have done it then, and I wish my attitude toward him had been different then – that I had chosen to be obedient to God and be a godly wife, even though he was doing things I didn't like. I wish I could say I won him through my actions, but I didn't. It all took time and I just wish it had been different – that I had done differently.
Dennis: You know, throughout the weekend at a FamilyLife Marriage Conference, couples get alone, like Tina and her husband did, and I think God does business, and although this may have not been the letter you wanted to write, Tina, it may have been the letter that God knew your husband needed to hear.
As we express our hurt and even our anger, there can be forgiveness, there can be reconciliation, and restitution. There can be the beginning of rebuilding trust in a relationship. Was there a time in the weekend when you began to sense this whole downward spiral and slide your marriage had been in, all of a sudden it was like it had hit bottom, and it was springing back up, and there was hope and there was life coming about in your relationship?
Tina: Probably Saturday evening – you had a time that we were just to spend intimately together, and it was another very difficult time for us, but yet both of us wanted to be able to go off together, hand in hand, looking in each other's eyes, smiling, and have a love there – that that look meant, "I love you, I cherish you," and we didn't have that. We didn't even hold hands. So that was hard for us. But to really realize this is not what we wanted when we got married, this is not what we were expecting, but it does not have to be this way.
Bob: You know, oftentimes, couples have been traveling down the road, the wrong road, for so long that when they finally kind of look around and go, "We are on the wrong road," they have to turn around and head back. It's not an instantaneous transport from where we are to the place we want to be. You kind of have to drive back in the right direction. The FamilyLife Marriage Conference for you 17 years ago just turned the car back in the right direction, didn't it?
Tina: Yes, and we did have to start, just like you said, driving back, and there were many stops we had to make and correct things. So it was not an instant thing. It took a lot of time to work through a lot of the hurt and to trust each other again.
Bob: What is it you think you saw or heard in the weekend at the conference that made you think, "We need to move in a new direction. We need to turn things around, and we need to stay and work this deal out?"
Tina: I think it was the fact in knowing that with God there were wonderful possibilities, and that we had made a commitment when we said, "I do." We made a commitment for life, and we knew we didn't want to live as we were, and we knew God said He can work all things for good.
Tina: So there was that hope that He could take our marriage and make that something good, and all of the joy and the happiness that we had been hoping for and looking for, we could find with each other. You know, I think it was just coming to the point of knowing God is big. He can take our life and turn it around.
Bob: You know, as you say that, I'm thinking about a couple that I spoke to at a recent FamilyLife Marriage Conference in a very difficult situation. One of the things that kept their situation tangled up was that the husband in this case kept clinging to the idea that if this didn't work out, divorce was an option.
And as I sat and talked with him, Dennis, I said, "In order to make your marriage be what God wants it to be, you have to make the decision here that that option is removed. You have to take divorce off the table," because as long as that's out there, and I used this illustration, I said, "You know how sometimes when you've got an old car and it breaks down again, you think, do I put the money in the old car and fix it up again, or do I just trade it in and get a new car?" Well, as long as you're thinking about that with a wife or with a husband, you're paralyzed. But as soon as you say, "I'm not going to get a new car. This is my car for life. This is my wife for life. This is my husband for life."
Now the answer is simple. You've got to invest, get it working and move on, and that's what I think happens with a lot of couples at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference – they settle the issue once and for all about commitment, and they get some tools they can begin to use in communication and resolving conflict that point them in the right direction.
Tina: Yes. We have a Bible study of married couples that meets at our home, and we have couples who are at different stages in their marriage and some who are battling that fault right now of divorce, of separation, and we just told them this past week, "You have to be at a point where it is a commitment." If you can ask yourself or say to yourself, "Well, if I go to all this effort and my spouse does not change, then I've wasted my time." If you can say that, if that is the thought in your mind, "Do I want to put out the effort? Do I want to waste my time?" Then you're not committed. It has to be a point where no matter what your spouse does you are going to go the distance. You're going to keep trying, and it is a commitment. You make divorce not an option, not even part of the game plan.
Dennis: A part of the problem today is that couples all across the country are being encouraged by a culture, they're being encouraged by their Christian friends, to make divorce a live option in their marriage. It takes a weekend getaway like a FamilyLife Marriage Conference to remind folks that marriage is for keeps and that there is hope for that relationship.
You know, I think back, Tina, how you describe your marriage – that it was the closest thing to hell you ever experienced here on earth, and God redeemed that in one weekend, turned you around, and that was 17 years ago.
I've got something I want to read to you. It's a letter I received from Paul Meek, a guy in East Leroy, Michigan. Would you hang on the phone for just a second and let me read this letter to you?
Bob: The reason we want you to hang on is because before Dennis reads the letter I want to remind listeners that today and tomorrow and through the weekend is your last opportunity to register for an upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference. When you register at the regular price as a couple we will send you a certificate so that another couple can attend as your guests absolutely free. It’s a buy-one-get one opportunity for FamilyLife Today listeners. It expires this weekend so if you want to take advantage of this here is what you ought to do.
Go to our web site FamilyLife Today.com where you will find out all the information about the conference. You can find out when it is coming to a city near where you live. All the details are there. You can register online if you like and if you do that you have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener. You can do that when you fill out your registration form online by typing my name “Bob” in the promo code box.
When the registration is complete you’ll be registered to attend and we will also send you a certificate for another couple to attend absolutely free. They can come with you or they can go to another conference in another city. If you know another couple who wants to come you could split the price and both of you come for half price. However you want to work it out. But again you register at the regular rate as a couple and a second couple gets to attend at no cost. If you want to register by telephone call 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329. Someone of our team can answer any questions you have and get you registered over the phone.
You tell them you are a FamilyLife Today listener and you will be eligible for the special offer we are making. That’s one registration at the regular rate and a second registration free. So again call 1-800-FL-TODAY or go online at FamilyLife Today.com. Do it today. Certainly do it before the end of the weekend because that’s when this opportunity expires.
I have to tell you the conference has been for a lot of couples a break through moment. We heard from one couple these are FamilyLife Today legacy partners who help support the ministry on a monthly basis. They said, we’d been married for about seven years and we were headed for divorce. Someone got us to a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference and we got involved in working to promote the conference and we started teaching a HomeBuilders Couples Series study. January 6, 2009 we celebrated our 30th anniversary.
You hear those kinds of stories and you go that’s what it’s all about. Couples getting the biblical blueprints for building a stronger marriage and then watching that marriage go the distance. Seeing lives and legacies changed in the process. We hope you will attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference this fall.
Again you can register online at FamilyLife Today.com or you can call 1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life and then the word TODAY. Dennis?
Dennis: Bob, you know, I'm thrilled that you're telling our listeners about the FamilyLife Marriage Conference because today we've heard a story about a couple who 17 years ago had a marriage that was dead and came to a FamilyLife Marriage Conference and experienced a resurrection, and Tina Meek has been gracious to share with us a great story of how she couldn't write a love letter, but instead wrote a letter of how discouraged and hurt she was in the marriage relationship. Tina is still on the phone here with us, and the reason I wanted you to hang around, Tina, is, unsolicited, I received this letter from your husband Paul, and it's a letter that I want you to listen carefully to and I want you to respond to here at the end.
"Dear Mr. Rainey,
As I was on my way to work the other day, I was listening to you on the radio. You were speaking to a woman from MOMSense concerning an organization about the home. I had to laugh as I listened, because this woman only has two kids. What she was saying was not wrong, but if you want to know about organization, you need to talk to my wife. My wife is amazing.
We have six children, ages 14, 12, 9, 3, 2, and 10 months, and in addition to taking care of them, she, number one," and then he lists eight things here, Tina, listen to this: "Number one, she home schools the kids; number two, she takes care of our home – cleaning, meals, laundry, doctor appointments, et cetera; three, she manages our family finances and bills; four, she takes care of her elderly mother who has Alzheimer's and her mother's finances; five, she takes care of all the bookkeeping for my business; six, she has completed a program in biblical counseling and in lay counseling;
seven," he actually misnumbered these, there's actually nine, now that I'm looking at it – "seven, she teaches a Bible study for married couples; eight, sings in the church choir; nine" – and I'm not believin' this, Tina – "takes care of missionaries and the finances of missionaries who have lived with us who are now out of the country, keeps 'em updated on things that are happening here.
We have had as many missionary families living with us at one time, 13 people, while they were raising support on furlough or just passing through on their way to the mission field, and, no, we do not have a huge home, we have to give up privacy.
Most amazing of all, my wife says she loves her family and her life. She has had to learn to set priorities and not neglect her time with the Lord. I could not live without her. Ten months ago I thought I was going to have to, though. Within an hour after the birth of our last son, Tina was back in surgery and at one point was pronounced dead. God did save her, and we are all thankful."
Tina: I don't know what to say. Our marriage is different. My husband loves me now, and I love him. These changes could not have taken place if God hadn't been a part of our life. We couldn't have made these changes on our own.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
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