One Relocation Away From Divorce

CBN.com -From the outside, Tim and Patti Smith looked like they had it all.

“We had a condo. We had jobs. We, you know, we're smiling in all of our pictures, from back in those days,” Patti said.

“I think everything was based on the dollar,” Tim Smith said. “We were all looking at getting ahead. You wanted that American dream.”

When Tim and Patti first met at a mutual friend’s wedding, it was love at first sight.

“It was wonderful and we were so in love and everything,” Patti said. “We wanted to be together as much as we could.”

Since they lived in different towns, they spent hours on the phone. Tim finally popped the big question.

“I was excited about being married to Tim,” Patti said. “We'd been dating for three years and engaged for probably close to two years by the time we got married. So I was ready. I was ready to be his wife.”

Not only was Patti becoming a wife, she became a mom to a son from Tim’s first marriage.

I had a whole day of, ‘Oh my gosh, can I be a mom to this child? What kind of mother am I?’ I was 21 at the time and it was scary.”

The family problems began to surface immediately.

“The first year of marriage was a little rough,” Tim said. “We were working a lot of separate shifts just kind of trying to make ends meet.”

“A lot of times we were like passing ships where, you know, he would come home and I was already gone and then I would come home, he'd be sleeping,” Patti said.

“It limited our communication,” Tim said.

The lack of communication wasn’t the only problem. Six months after they married, Tim received a job offer in California and accepted. This made the second move for Patti in 6 months.

Patti said.  “I had no family. I had no friends. We had no really neighbors that I knew at all, and so it was basically me and Tim.  And if we weren't getting along, then we didn't have anybody.”

Tim and Patti had two daughters, just a couple of years apart. The increased responsibilities left them both stressed and disappointed.

“At that point in time she was devoting herself to the kids and I’m still devoting myself to the career,” Tim said.

“I felt neglected. I did,” Patti said. “I felt like I should be the priority and I wasn’t feeling cherished. And it was all about me, you know? And I was letting—instead of talking about it, I would kind of shut down.”

“If things bothered me, I would get angry,” Tim said. “I would yell and scream. She would cry. Honestly, we lived a lot of our life like this, you know, with just me coming in and going off the handle, her going in and crying and that was it. We wouldn’t talk about it. We didn’t fix it, we would just get up the next day and hope—I think she was hoping it would get better and I would hope that it would go away.”

Tim poured himself into his work. “I was just chasing the dollar. I would talk to my bosses at the time about where could we go, how could we do things. We were trying to figure out where we could go to make more money. Every time I thought I was where I wanted to be, I’d want something else.”

Tim moved the family 14 times in 9 years as he climbed the corporate ladder. The family kept jumping from one place to the next, and Patti’s resentment grew. At one point, when Tim tried to move the family from Indiana to Kentucky, Patti put up a fight. “I was finally planting my feet and said ‘I'm not going. I don’t want to move again,’” Patti said.  “It was really hard. He said, ‘I'm going with or without you.’ And I was fine with that. I was fine because I was done. And we were not getting along. We were fighting all the time.”

But Patti reluctantly followed Tim again and fell into a depression. One day, she took her daughter to the library. She met a woman there who invited her to a Bible study. Although religion didn’t play a big role in her life as an adult, Patti had grown up in church and realized she needed to turn to God for answers.

“Studying the Bible helped me be at peace with God,” Patti said. “And so she sat with me and we read through the wife with noble character, Proverbs 31. And I had never read that before. And after she was done reading, she said, ‘Where do you see yourself in here?’ And I literally didn’t see myself anywhere, and I felt like my heart really, really dropped. And I said, ‘You know, nowhere.’”
“And for the first time I was convicted,” Patti said. “I’m like, ‘God, you know, I want to do this Your way. I want to be the kind of wife that You want me to be. And so I’m not doing this right and I need You to show me.’”

Patti began going to church and reading her Bible.

“If I get mad, she’s ‘Well, I’ll pray for you.’ We said a lot of things to one another in our marriage, ‘I’ll pray for you’ has never been one of them.”

When Tim was growing up, his family was part of a church that split, so he became uncomfortable with Patti’s newfound religion. “I kind of got a real negative attitude at a young age towards the church. I disavowed it all as a teenager,” Tim said.

Tim reached his breaking point when Patti told him she was to be baptized at the church. “I was livid.” Tim said. “It’s like, you know, ‘If this is what you want out of your life, so be it. You go do it. You have your life and I’ll have mine, but I’m leaving you. This is not going to happen with me in your life.’”

But Patti’s calm and peaceful demeanor never wavered and she was baptized two weeks later. “After she was baptized I really started seeing a change in her as a person,” Tim said. “I guess the change was probably there all along, I just was not willing to look at it and see it. But, I can remember her always being so positive about everything. But I also got this feeling like, ‘What is it that I am missing in this?’”

That’s when Tim began to look for answers, too. He went to a Bible study. “I never felt pushed, but I was loved.” Tim said. “I guess the best word that I can use is these people genuinely loved you as a person. And it really softened my heart towards what church could be.”

Just months later, he became a Christian too and was baptized. “I remember coming out of the water and realizing, ‘It’s all new,’” Tim said. “I felt a true cleansing.”

“We were praying together. We’d never done that before. He was listening to me again.” Patti said. “This is like we were dating again and even better than it was before. I knew it was all coming from Christ as the foundation of our marriage.”

The Smith’s began to talk through their problems. They say God has completely renewed their marriage. Patti has written a book about their journey.

“If you can make money - we all have to do that, and we all understand that. But don’t let it be at the sacrifice of your family,” Tim said.  “Concentrate on your wife. We're living with less money now than I have ever made in my life and we're as happy as we've ever been in our life. Let God in. Pray. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.”

“There’s always hope in Christ,” Patti said. “There’s always hope in Him. And my marriage was hopeless but when I gave it the Lord, He fixed it. Jesus will fix it.”

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