There Is Hope for Your Marriage
By Dan Polimino
Many years ago, you may have read my first columns in the Post and then my blogs on our website thehawaiiteam.com. Over the years, you may recall that during the week of Christmas, I do not write about business. I have always held the philosophy that there are 51 weeks of the year we can talk about business, and for just one week of the year, I believe it’s important to write about stories of the human condition. Stories that stop us in our tracks, give us moments of pause, reflection and dare I say change. This year is very unique for me because the story of the human condition is about me, my wife Jennifer, and our family.
I have a secret to tell you… over the last 18 years of marriage, we have failed miserably.
Jen and I found it too hard to make it work and we talked about getting a divorce often. The 18 years were marred with constant fights, pressure at work, parenting disagreements, addictions and a lack of love and respect. Not to mention we both came into the marriage very broken people with plenty of baggage. Like most, we swept our issues from our past under the carpet and never dealt with them. I can tell you first hand that carrying 30 plus years of baggage is detrimental to your well-being and your marriage. I never learned to forgive myself from the guilt and shame of past sins and it was destroying our marriage. It makes it really difficult to love someone else when you don’t even like yourself. So, at this point, I bet you are wondering if we got divorced?
Well, it was March of this year when we decided I would move out. Jen had been praying for a breakthrough but had become exhausted from trying so hard. We had been to six different marriage counselors in 18 years and not one of them had helped us. I had been attending a men’s bible study at our church Mission Hills Community Church, not because I wanted to, but because Jen nagged me to sign up. But I found the guys to be a lot like me and the support was exactly what I needed. I told the men that we fought the good fight, but the marriage was over. A few days later my friend, Bruce, called and told me about a program that he and his wife attended at Mission Hills Church called “Love and Respect”. I told Bruce that I could not possibly watch one more video, read one more book, or attend one more marriage seminar, but he implored me to call the church and to give it one more try. So, I did…
I got the church receptionist on the phone and inquired about the program. She told me that they stopped running the seminar. I thought, “Well, that’s perfect, it must be a sign! At least I tried.” However, she did say they just hired a new Pastor who was in charge of the marriage ministry named Will and she wanted to know if I would speak with him. I said, “No thanks,” I don’t want to speak with him (not another marriage counselor.) She pushed a little harder and convinced me to talk with him, so I did. At that moment on the phone, my life changed forever. Will convinced me to come in with Jen and to meet with him for one session. Will said, “What do you have to lose, you are leaving the marriage anyway.” “Good point,” I thought. So, we met with Will and we could tell instantly that this was not going to be like any other marriage counseling that we had been through before. He started to tell us about a new program that they were rolling out at the church called Re-Engage. He asked us if we wanted to be a part of the pilot group of five couples. Jen was elated, and I said ok.
Now, this is where the story gets long so you’ll have to call me (or Jen) to get all of the details, but what happened with those other couples over the next FIVE months (yes five months of meeting once a week) was nothing short of miraculous! God showed up in a big and real way in all of our lives. The exercises from the curriculum challenged us, engaged us, made us fight, and healed us. The support of the other four other couples was indescribable. God swooped in the nick of time and SAVED our marriage. In our hearts, neither one of us really wanted to get divorced, but we were at our wit’s end and we were so tired of seeing our children get hurt. We have the most amazing kids, by the grace of God, and seeing them cry and get sick because of our fighting was just horrible.
Now both of us are fighters, which is both good and bad. I was a child of divorced parents and I can tell you that the hurt and pain of my parents’ divorce caused me tremendous problems, both as a child and as an adult. I decided that I could not do that to my children. I love them more than words can describe and would do anything to save them from that pain.
With our hearts healed, this past August, Jen and I decided to get married all over again. Some people call it renewing their vows, but to us it was so much more. It was a DO-OVER! Just like when we were kids and we didn’t like the outcome of something and we called for a “do over.” These pictures attached are from our 2nd wedding in Hawaii—the first time was 18 years ago, but this time, we had our wonderful kids stand up for us.
Boy, have I learned a lot over the last year! I learned to forgive myself and to forgive my wife. I learned that God is for my marriage and not against it. I learned how to love again, how to give grace and humility and to be the husband and father that He has called me to be. We both learned how to properly resolve conflict and how to communicate in a kind and loving manner, which was a big problem in our marriage. (Please note that we are not perfect, we still mess up at times, but now we have the tools and desire to come back to each other and work it out and not choose to “hate each other” or “check out”.)
We wanted to share our story with you and let you know that Jen and I are now facilitators for the Re-Engage program that they rolled out this past fall at Mission Hills Church. We pray that our experiences and story of redemption can help other couples not to give up and choose to fight instead of divorce.
Listen, if you are reading this far, and if any of it, some of it, or all of it struck a chord, then I want you to know that there is hope for you and your spouse! God loves and cares about you, your spouse and your family. There can be love and reconciliation, there can be healing between you both, and there can be redemption even for some of the worst scenarios. Trust me, I know!
Before I end, let me share with you one of my favorite verses from the Bible. It comes from Jeremiah 29: verse 11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart”. I encourage you to seek God and ask Him if there’s anything in your heart towards your spouse that needs to be fixed. As we say in Re-engage, “Draw a circle around yourself and work on the one who is in that circle!”
God bless you and your family, we hope you had a Merry Christmas, and wish you a New Year full of healing.
Dan Polimino & Jen Polimino
PS. If you’d like to grab a coffee after the holidays, men give me a call at 808-913-0899 or email me at email@example.com. Ladies, please call or email my wife, Jennifer at 303-522-0060 or firstname.lastname@example.org