Crystal was in denial about her relationship with her best friend. “I began chatting with him online constantly, at first only when Jason wasn’t around, but then even when he was, pretending it was only friendship,” she says. Jason was spending more and more time with his colleague from school, and projects turned into relaxation time which turned into going out to clubs together until late at night. Since his wife made him feel worthless, unattractive and irresponsible, all he wanted was to numb the pain.
If only that was the end of it. Or even the beginning. The farther you look into the early love story between Jason and Crystal, the easier it is to say they were doomed from the beginning. Or go the other direction and look where this couple ends up a few months later; it gets much, much worse.
a marriage not working
This marriage was a wreck. They both knew it.
As I first read, I thought to myself, “These two are disastrous!” But something changed and by the end of their story I was inspired and deeply encouraged. How did they overcome those odds? How did they look past the mountain of hurt and decide to love each other anyway? This was a hard-core couple with a hard-core marriage.
Sometimes you pass by something so brilliant and tangible that you can’t leave it behind.
Think of something that others find mundane but inspires you. I’m having trouble thinking of an example that you’ll relate to because only you know what strikes you.
I’ll tell you about one of mine.
Sunsets. Pretend you’re me, for just a second. Have you ever been driving, maybe to work or a long road trip, and you gradually realize that a dazzling sun is throwing his rays all over the sky and they are different colors in every place they land? It’s happened to me in the middle of the road. I remind myself that it’s important not to crash. In fact, there are sunsets every night and there will be another one tomorrow.
But instead, I decide to stop. I pull over and rest in the moment, giving up attention to something that will never beg, yet will never cease being glorious due to a lack of appreciation.
Am I the only one pulling over for glorious sunsets? I don’t do it that often. You can check out this Instagram photo I posted on the sail from Durban to Capetown where I describe a sunset-moment that stopped me in my tracks.
marriages done right
They make your metaphoric jaw drop. I don’t know exactly what kind of marriage survival story will convince you that miracles can happen, but I want to tell you about a few that caught my eye. I don’t think you need to be married for these to resonate with you, just like I don’t need to be an athlete to recognize the determination of an Olympic gymnast.
These marriages had all the elements that push people to divorce, and yet they didn’t. By the time I learned of their stories, they shone brilliantly to me, like a glorious sunset, taking my breath away.
Roger and Chaz Ebert
A TED talk caught my eye about Roger Ebert. That name sounded familiar. Wasn’t he the guy that did movie reviews? I was too young at the time to remember much, but the man speaking didn’t look the same; he looked like a caricature. The title and description intrigued my nursing brain and I listened as Ebert described how he fought cancer and then almost died from a burst artery. His life had changed drastically, and in this TED talk he spoke (through a digital computer and with the help of friends) of the difficulties of having an extremely altered appearance and being unable to speak ever again.
Eberts medical journey was certainly interesting, but there was one minute of the 20 minute video that stuck with me. Chaz, Ebert’s wife was sitting beside him reading his words for him. As she read his words, offering her human voice to spare the audience from the computer-generated automation, she broke down slightly. She composed herself, but she had indelibly etched in my mind a picture of a woman who loved him with an other-worldly love. If you watch the video, Remaking My Voice, at the 15 minute mark, you’ll see what I mean.
They intrigued me. She had married him in the height of his career, when he was an articulate, public figure. When he became a dependent man wishing to be seen and heard the way he used to be, she was a memory-keeper and defender of who he really was under his altered appearance and strange, computer-voice. She fought for him and loved him in action.
I had to find out more about who this woman was. I found this letter Ebert wrote to Chaz that she published after he passed away. Skim through. It’s beautiful. Ebert says about Chaz,
“If my cancer had come, and it would have, and Chaz had not been there with me, I can imagine a descent into lonely decrepitude. I was very sick. I might have vegetated in hopelessness. This woman never lost her love, and when it was necessary she forced me to want to live.”
Kim and Krickitt Carpenter
I don’t usually pick up books that get remade into chick flicks but this one said “Based on a true story” on the front. And her name is Krickitt. Seriously. I had to find out about that name.
In The Vow, Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams did a decent job representing how love bloomed for a second time after Krickitt Carpenter lost all memory of her new husband in a traumatic car accident. Not her entire memory, but specifically her memories from the most recent year. The year she met and married Kim Carpenter.
The movie is cute, but the real story is amazing. Rachel McAdams wakes up like Sleeping Beauty with an oxygen mask, but the real woman behind the story had to fight for her life. She was airlifted to a better hospital and her family was called because they didn’t think she’d make the flight. She had to relearn how to walk, eat, everything. Her new husband was a stranger she had never met. The wedding, the honeymoon, and their 6 short weeks together were erased and to this day she still doesn’t remember.
Krickitt had a stranger at the foot of her bed claiming he loved her, was married to her, and wasn’t going anywhere. He dished out tough love by pushing her to her limits with physical therapy. Her personality was slightly altered, especially during the initial weeks of recovery, and her rage towards her husband surfaced often. Oprah asks in this video, “When you marry somebody and the worse becomes that that somebody is no longer the person that you married, what then makes you stick it out?”
I can’t imagine something more devastating than losing the memory of your husband and making a choice of whether to stick it out with this kind stranger, or go on with your life. Here’s another video where Krickitt makes this powerful statement:
“It wasn’t the second time around that I fell in love with him again. It was a choice! And I chose to love him based on obedience to God, not based on feelings because all the feelings I had were wiped out.”
Jason and crystal crawford
Indeed, the first 5 years of their marriage were nightmares for them both. He felt no affection from his wife; she was cold, distant, and so introverted that he could never connect with her. He bummed around at home all day while they lived with her parents. She felt ugly around him, and craved his attention and love. He craved physical intimacy, but what she gave him was cold and infrequent. Many of us can relate to some of these deep-down desires, but the outward manifestation was ugly and sticky. Their marriage endured infidelity of all sorts, separation, and endless arguments.
This book was a fast read because I couldn’t wait to get to the redemption at the end. Their story seemed so raw and genuine, the pain and the success, that I felt like it could easily be any couple that keeps it together on the outside yet lives a torturous private life. They both write about their feelings in a very honest, open way and both men and women will probably see parts of themselves in Jason and Crystal. You can buy their book called Unbreaking on Amazon for just a few bucks. I highly recommend it!
I’d recommend the story Jason and Crystal wrote to anyone who doesn’t think marriage will be successful after certain circumstances are thrown in. Their story certainly surprised me, and the end of their story made me want to cheer out loud because I couldn’t believe the did it!
I had to share these brilliantly shining examples of perseverance with you.
Chaz, Krickitt, and Crystal impacted me powerfully and stick in my mind as examples of couples who achieved the near-impossible. I saw marriages done right in their stories.
How do these stories encourage you? Which story outcome do you find the most surprising and unlikely?
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I joined in on the Faith-Filled Friday blog link-up hosted by MissionalWomen.com, the Christian Blogger Link-up hosted at ChristianBloggerCommunity.com, the Thursday Three Link-up, and the Heart Encouragement link-up.