Will Marriage Solve a Man’s Problems?
By: The John Ankerberg Show
- Ankerberg: Here is the deal is that a lot of guys that are listening is that you thought, “If I can just get to being married, once I get married all my problems are solved.” Fred, in a way you thought that. What happened?
- Stoeker: Oh, I really thought it was going to be great. As a matter of fact, I thought I was God’s gift to Brenda. I had grown up, I was valedictorian, and I was class president, and I was athlete of the year, and it just goes on and on. And then when I went to college I studied a lot about marriage and relationships; and every girl that I ever dated the parents would say, “Now he is a keeper, you ought to get him.” And so when I got married I thought I was going to be a great leader, perfect in every way. And I thought Brenda would be this great wife because she was a Christian. I thought we had it made.
- But you have to understand, men, there is no guarantee at all, because the only guarantee that you get is that it is going to be a steam roller; and it is going to steam roll a lot of the dreams that you have. What happened to us is I married Brenda, but just five months before that, her dad died. And that created a whole wave of grief. And then when I tried then to take her away from home, marry her and take her home to Des Moines, her mom was in such deep grief Brenda felt guilty to leave. And so she wanted to go home every weekend.
- On top of that she was working in a new job that was very… just a dismal working environment. She had been raised in a church her whole life and now she’s in a city with no church, no friends, no connection. And then she is married to a guy that, it turns out, has a horrible temper. I used to break holes in the wall just for effect and just to be theatrical, just to make her cower, just to make sure she would do the things I would want her to do in my great leadership skills. And so we were in this spot where Brenda was just feeling rotten.
- And then my family didn’t like her, and so we were getting phone calls, oh every other night. It was like the bombers in WWII coming over and flattening Berlin. I mean my family, either one of my two sisters or my mom would call and holler about how rotten Brenda was and why do I love her more than them and just on and on. This was a small apartment and she could hear everything they were saying even though she wasn’t on the phone. And it was a very, very, very painful time. And in the last analysis what happened was things started to crumble in spite of all the things that looked good at the beginning.
- I remember going into a valentine card shop early on in our marriage and I walked in and I started flipping through the cards. And the more I flipped through the cards the more of a sick feeling I got. Because every statement that I read on those cards sounded so romantic and so connected and intimate. And I knew I couldn’t give any of them to her with any kind of integrity at all. And so by the time I flipped through every last valentine card I couldn’t find one that matched up with our relationship. And I walked out of the place with tears in my eyes just knowing how far things had sunk.
- And then it wasn’t too long after that where Brenda came into the kitchen one day. I was sitting there, she sat down and she said, “You know, I really don’t know how else to say this so I am going to tell it to you straight.” She said, “My feelings for you are dead.” And it was in that moment that I suddenly realized completely where things had fallen to. And as a person from a broken home that all I wanted was to have a great marriage, it was the oddest thing, but all of those swirling emotions from the fifth grade when my mom and dad broke up just came swarming in. And I was feeling this, “what am I going to do, what am I going to do,” and it was just for day after day after day.
- And after about two weeks she was at work one day and I just stepped up to the refrigerator and had opened it and gotten a glass of milk. I had it in my left hand and I had shut the door and again a wave of emotion flooded through and I started crying. And I just lowered my head and you know “what am I going to do?”
- And it was at that point that I just made a decision, and it is like Shannon had said how important decisions are. I remember I had this glass of milk in my hand I had my finger like this, and I said, “God I don’t care how much gravel I have to eat; I am never going to get a divorce.” And I just made that statement. Now what that decision did was for the first time engage me in a different attitude towards my marriage. I mean, I had always thought it was going to be a happy ever after thing where because of my so called greatness and because of her great upbringing we would get together and everything would smoothly go forward. What I discovered was there is a great deal of effort, sacrifice and giving that has to happen in marriage, to the point of eating gravel if I had to, because I wanted to make sure it worked.
For the John Ankerberg Show, Copyright, 2007.
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The John Ankerberg Show
Founder and president of The John Ankerberg Show, the most-watched Christian worldview show in America.