Hope for Hurting Marriages: Aimee's Story
Anyone who knows Aimee can laugh at the title. The truth is, Aimee is always real. In fact, she is one of those people that have shaped my quest for transparency.
However, her entrance into my life happened about 12 years ago now.
Aimee has always been extremely transparent with me-- as a young girl-- about her struggles-- always sharing things with me that I could learn from. Her story is incredible, and the work that God has done in her life and in her marriage with Dave is also incredible.
Read on, and you too will see.
My name is Aimee Proulx, I'm 38 (almost 39) and I'm married to the one and only- Dave Proulx. In one week (Sept 28th) we will celebrate our 11th year of marriage. Amazing. We have two kids: Isabella is 9 and Jack is 7. It might not seem too crazy but given where we are and what we are doing, its nutz.
When did you first come to follow Christ?
I asked Jesus "into my heart" when I was 5 and was baptized when I was 7, in Blue Lake, by my Dad while a bunch of other hippies watched. In fact, I'm pretty sure my Dad was in cutoff shorts. Good stuff. However, by 10th grade Jesus was a second thought and only something that factored into my life, when I needed Him to, which was almost never.
Flash forward to my early thirties when I really began to struggle with the Lord, which I will address in a moment, and Christ became real to me for the first time. I don't know if I was an actual Christ follower at 5 or 7, but I do know that Jesus saved me and radically changed my life around 2008.
That year started this season where I was seeking Christ like I never had before; for the first time in my life, I had identity, I knew who I was in Christ and it changed everything. It was the most defining moment of my life.
Chuck Swindoll says, "There are two important moments in every man's life, the day he's born and the day he finds out why he was born." The day I realized I was born to be a slave to Christ, everything shifted. And I've never been the same.
What have been some of your greatest struggles in life, and how have overcome them?
Greatest struggles? Ugh, these are ugly. In fact, my husband just got done praying over me for one. After I had kids I started to struggle with fear like I never had before. My tendency is to think each and everything tingle, cough, or ache is cancer. My mind goes there quickly and fully. It has pulled me in for weeks and days. It takes me away from my family because while I am still technically "there", I am withdrawn far inside myself as I wrestle with symptoms and feelings, trying to figure everything out.
However, a couple of years ago I realized that I did not want to pass fear along to my children and I began to actively address the root of the problem- I don't trust Christ. No matter what "thing" we bring to the table, Christ is always enough: broken marriage, cancer, death of a loved one, anorexia, alcoholism, porn addiction, anger, fear...Christ is enough. So, at my core, I struggle with fear because I don't think Christ is enough. In fact, I would say that the belief that Christ really isn't enough, is at the core of each of our issues. Think about your biggest fear/struggle/challenge and then ask yourself if Christ is enough in-spite of it.
All last year I really had this fear thing handled, it was in the bag. In the moments when the fear came, I would pray and move on. If I struggled for a moment more I would ask Christ to give me peace, I'd take the peace He gave (1st Cor 10:13) and I'd walk away. There were a couple times when I would run (always my first instinct) but God was good to let me see what I was doing and I'd quickly turn and pursue Him.
However, this summer I voluntarily took time off from God. I was so exhausted that I let my brain focus on nothing and I have been paying for it ever since. I cannot spend more than a couple days outside of the Word or I am a wreck. Yet this summer I spent many days doing my own thing and I am once again struggling with fear and anxiety- the stress of our life has become overwhelming again. It's sad. If you press me I can tell you that Jesus plus nothing equals everything, but I am certainly not living like I believe that and it is in our LIVING that we see what we really believe.
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ― A.W. Tozer
My other big struggle is my mind and its submission to Christ, as it pertains to sex. I was molested as a child and raped as an adult so I had some negative associations with sex.
I have two people that hold me accountable to my desire to submit my mind to Christ and I have an amazing husband who I can talk to and who loves me. This struggle really isn't a struggle anymore but was for many years. The way I dealt with it was by confessing it, which was embarrassing and hard and gross and disgusting, and then having someone ask me about it- on a weekly basis. It's hard to hide sin and continue to walk in it when people who love you can ask you about it. I also had to confess it to the Lord, ask for Him to forgive me and make me pure, and then give me a way out (1st Cor 10:13).
He's always there, always powerful, and always relevant to each and every thing we might bring to the table. Period.
Aimee, I love your and Dave’s story of your marriage. Can you share that?
My marriage. Now that's a story. Here we go...
I met Dave the December before we got engaged and he was seeing someone, so although I threw myself at him, he did not bite. However, later that summer when he was single and I was throwing myself at another guy in his band, he did notice me. Dave and I dated for 3 days and then decided to get married. We got engaged officially a week and a half after deciding to get married, and got married two and a half months after that. So, from the time we met again that summer until we got married was 3 months.
We've been blissfully married ever since. We never fight and we have tons and tons of sex.
All. The. Time.
Most of that is actually not true because I'm convinced that its not possible. Take two sinful humans and put them in a house together, alone, and crap is gonna happen. So, we got into our first big "I want a divorce and I hate you" fight on our honeymoon. We made up though. We got into our next one shortly after one month of marriage and then things really began to fall apart and continued to for the next 8 months.
However, at our first anniversary (by God's grace alone) we had an action plan. Dave had started to attend a small group and for the first time in his life, was working through what it felt like to be self controlled and what it was going to feel like to deal with his feelings about his parents divorce. Since I had really leaned on the Lord during our first year of marriage, at this time I decided to pretend I was happy and began a long but slow process of resenting and hating my husband and running from the Lord. So good stuff.
Because God is good, He was patient with me all those years that I prayed and prayed for Dave to be fixed and my marriage to be restored. I didn't like sex, I hated it. I hated kissing my husband. I didn't trust him and I didn't like him. I wanted something better. However, my husband was in ministry at this point so I had to play a part as well. At my core though, I wanted more and didn't understand why other people had "it" but we didn't...hence the praying for God to change Dave. Not me. Dave.
That didn't happen, although things did start to get better. Somewhere around year 5 and a half, I didn't hate him so much and by year 7, things were good. However, it was at year 8 that I finally asked God to change me. NEVER do that unless you are willing to walk through whatever God has for you. DO NOT ask Him to change you if you aren't really willing to die to yourself.
God's response to me was to give me an insatiable desire to SERVE Dave. I would call him at work and ask him if I could pray for him or do anything to help him out. I started cooking so that the house smelled lovely when he walked in the door after work, you name it, I did it. It was super natural too...and then one night, one comment from Dave and it all came crashing down.
What came out of that beautiful two weeks of service was a thicker and higher wall than I had before. However, again because God is good, the next afternoon while I was doing dishes and hating Dave, the Holy Spirit, the comforter said, "You need to forgive Dave". I didn't want to although Dave had told me that afternoon that God had dealt with him and in-spite of asking for my forgiveness, I remained cold. The Holy Spirit nudged that if I didn't forgive, all the work we had done over the last two weeks would be for nothing. Nothing. I'd be back at the start.
I swallowed my pride and forgave him and in that moment, our marriage was changed. For the first time we were on the same page. For the first time we were both pursuing Christ and getting closer to one another in the process. Our marriage has never been better. We have weathered intense stress in the last two years and yet, although we have moments and hours and we might scream, it only gets better.
We are where we are because of Christ. He redeemed our marriage. I said earlier no matter what we bring to the table, Christ is enough. My marriage is living proof. I could write 10 pages on the things we said to one another, things we can never take back, the pain we caused...I can detail fights where we purposely hurt one another. I could tell you things that we each did before we were married, the sheer amount of baggage we both brought into this marriage- but none of it matter because we brought it all and Christ was more.
He is enough.
I was blessed to have a partner that saw his great need to Christ and submitted to Him, I didn't do this all on my own. I realize there are people out there who have very one sided marriage but Christ is still enough for that. It might not look like you dreamed but inside of that Christ is still enough. My marriage, outside of Christ, is ugly and dead. Simple. Without Christ we are two very selfish sinners, pushing for our own way and to satisfy our own needs. Its disgusting.
However, with Christ we have His imputed righteousness, we aren't wearing clean garments we ARE clean and alive. We are two very selfish sinners, who mutually submit to one another (because of the example given to us by the Trinity) in love and who desire to put the others needs first and above our own. Do we do that perfectly all the time? Nope. But grace abounds and we start again.
Dave and I get up every day and regardless of how we feel (Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?") we make a choice to love each other. We have decided to live "ahava" love, a love of the will. Love isn't a feeling. It is a choice.
Why do you think it is so important as a Christian to be real?
I believe we do one another a great disservice when we pretend life is good, when its not. We also go through fear and struggles alone, needlessly, when we don't involve others in what's going on. Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." That's AMAZING! That's a POWERFUL command! When the church acts as we are commanded to, for our own good ( and for God's glory), it is beautiful. Yes it can be sloppy, scary and embarrassing to share and be real but the benefits FAR outweigh those temporary feelings.
What advice do you have for those that would like to be more authentic- get real with themselves, with God, and with others?
Oh that we could all be real and all pursue Christ...we all need a person or persons we can be honest with. Everyone needs someone who will tell them the truth- knowing that the truth might be uncomfortable. We need to stop looking to the friends who will tell us what we want to hear but rather seek out the ones who will be faithful and truthful. But above all:
Colossians 3:1-17 "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
I'm not suggesting any of this is easy or easily won after a moment or an hour of submission or study. I am suggest that we as a people begin to live this daily and that we do so until Christ returns or calls us home. I am suggesting that life with Christ is better than life without. I am saying that no matter what we bring to the table, Christ is enough.
You can contact Aimee at email@example.com.