A Marriage to Remember: Part 2
If you missed the first part of this story, read it here before you jump in to part two!
After their divorce in November of 1978, Pam felt the freedom to put her failed marriage behind her and start afresh. She was living in Rock Springs, WY with her new boyfriend, pregnant and hopeful for a happy future, when she received probably the strangest phone call of her life.
It was from Doug. He told her three things:
He was now a follower of Jesus Christ
God hates divorce
She was living in sin!
As you can tell, he had all the zeal of a man who was experiencing new life in Christ, learning the heart of God, and figuring out what God wanted from him. His mentor and good friend had pointed out that divorce (apart from adultery) was never God’s will and that their divorce wasn’t recognized in His eyes, so Doug concluded that he and Pam were living in disobedience and needed to reconcile.
Pam, however, had not reached that conclusion. She was in a new relationship, pregnant with a child she never could have had with Doug (who had a vasectomy, if you remember from the first part), and she wanted to make this new family work. Pam wished Doug happiness, but let him know that she had moved on. Doug hung up the phone thinking that he had done his part. That was that.
As God would have it, Pam’s new relationship did not work out. It crumbled into nothing, and within a few months Pam felt compelled to return to Portland and talk to her ex-husband, Doug. It was March of 1979 when Pam met up with Doug and witnessed the incredible change in his life. No longer enslaved to drugs and alcohol and a life of living to get high, he now spent hours in prayer and studying the Bible, and after some self-examination, Pam realized that she too desired that transformation. She had always considered herself a Christian, but witnessing Doug’s very personal and real relationship with Jesus revealed to her that what she had was a surface level label, not a heart and soul change. Pam gave her life to Christ and experienced true freedom and forgiveness.
But that did not mean she was ready to jump back into a relationship with Doug. She was pregnant, and the Doug she knew had made it clear he didn’t want any more kids. Doug promised to take an active role in the baby’s life, despite the fact that he was not the biological father, but Pam wasn’t sure that was what she wanted.
In June 1979, Pam went into labor early and delivered a 2lb baby boy named Paul. His little lungs were very undeveloped, and he struggled for four days before passing away. Doug and Pam grieved, but now they had the comforting hope in Christ that death is not final, and they will one day see baby Paul again.
That whole experience served to begin the healing in Doug and Pam’s relationship, that by the grace of God they too have the hope of an abundant, restored and redeemed life together. Also, Doug’s devotion to both her and the baby showed Pam that he was genuine in his intentions towards her and he truly considered Paul his own child. During their time in the hospital, he stayed by their side and made it clear to the doctors and nurses that Paul was his. Pam was ready to recommit herself to this changed man.
The next month, in July, they determined to be obedient to the sacred covenant of marriage as established by God in the Bible and were remarried on the tenth anniversary of their first wedding!
At their recent vow renewal, Pam reflected back on that second wedding day:
This man I gave myself to ten years before not only gave me a ring, he gave me a heart.
They both knew, as they stood before the altar, that being “in love” could not be the reason for their marriage. The Lord had by then given Doug the firm foundation of commitment to his wife Pam, regardless of feelings. He knew that love was a choice they were vowing to make to each other.
Also at their 50th vow renewal, Doug shared:
Because of this understanding, I have been intensely in love with my wife for the last 40 years. Hallelujah! It’s amazing what the Creator can do with the marriage relationship. Something God our Savior has shown me for many years now is that my wife is His perfect representation of His unconditional love of Christ for me, in our marriage.
After their second marriage to each other, Doug had a vasectomy reversal (which at that time only had an 80% success rate) but they failed to get pregnant within the two-year timeframe. Doug and Pam fostered many children, eventually adopting two, a son named TR and a daughter named Mary, and seven years after the vasectomy reversal they had a surprise pregnancy – Joe!
We were perfectly happy where God had us as a family and didn’t feel as though anything was missing, this was just God’s timing and an added blessing. All our kids are a blessing and are OURS.
God has redeemed the years that many would consider wasted, and He alone has written a masterpiece for His glory through the 50 years of Doug and Pam’s marriage. It is a testimony to His love and outrageous grace, and a beacon of hope to those who are struggling in darkness. The power to redeem is available to all who surrender their lives to Him and accept the truth of the Gospel – that Christ died for us, while we were still sinners.
I hope you have enjoyed this two part series sharing the story of my parent-in-law’s marriage! Obviously, they have much more wisdom to impart after that many years together, but that will have to wait for another time.
To God be the glory, great things He has done.
Written and shared by Natalya Brown.