The Pitfalls of Stubbornness in Marriage

“For the Mustang, once they learn to trust, there’s a freedom there. I love seeing the horse go from so fearful, they only trust themselves,” says Cheryle. “And then to be able to go and get them to understand why they can trust others. Usually my first touch, there’s always tears behind it. Because it’s like, they now trust me.”

For Cheryle McConnaughey, her work building trust with wild mustangs comes easily. It’s men she has a hard time with. Her father was absent when she grew up, and her first marriage was a disaster.

“I had a life of hurt with men.” Says Cheryle, “And so I ended up thinking all men were liars, not trustworthy.”

She met Rick at church and they were married within three months, but problems developed shortly after their wedding. They had differences of opinion on parenting Cheryle’s three kids.

Rick says, “I just was trying to be the best parent that I could be with, you know, not having any prior experience; no children of my own. And so immediately that started, you know, conflicts between us.”

Cheryle’s inability to trust played her against Rick.
Cheryle says, “I’d just start getting suspicious about, you know, where are you at, who—who you seeing, you know, maybe, who, you know, are you meeting somebody?”

“I felt like she was accusing me, pointing her finger at me.” Says Rick,  “And it was very, very difficult for me to live like that. It would just progress and progress. And there were times she’d load the kids up, you know, in the van and take off. She was done. She was scared, she was running.”
Cheryle says, “I can’t tell you how many times I threatened to leave him and he was always committed. Then he says, ‘You have to leave.’”

“I felt like I didn’t care if she decided she wanted to go. It’s like I’ll let you go,” says Rick.

Neither left, and years went by. Cheryle poured herself into working with mustangs meanwhile Rick avoided confrontation.

Rick says, “When I’m working nights, she’s working days. You know, we hardly saw each other; really nothing there to help get us back on track, and very little interaction. And at that point it was actually a relief,” says Rick.

Cheryle says, “Everything’s defensive and so I would get angry at, you know, ‘why God, why?’ Here I am, how many years and this still feels like hell on earth to me. I thought, you know, ‘God, where are You? Where are You in the midst of all of this?’ Because I felt like I’ve been praying, praying. Shouldn’t this change?”

Any hope of a happy marriage seemed impossible. One day while Cheryle tried to rope a particularly wild mustang, she had an epiphany about her own guarded heart.

Cheryle spoke to her horse, “’I want you to trust me. I’m not going to hurt you.’ No more than when I got those words out of my mouth, God said, ‘Cheryle, it’s the same with you. I just want you to trust Me.’ He says, ‘Cheryle, (are) you tired of the rope around your neck?’ I was just like, ‘yeah, I am. I am tired of that. I’m tired of fighting. I want to give. I want to trust You with everything, with my whole heart; not just bits and pieces. So that means I have to trust You in this marriage.’ So my prayer became, ‘let me see. Let me see my sin. Let me see what I need to do different. Lord, help me see Rick as You see him.’”

Rick and Cheryle agreed to go to their pastor for marriage counseling.

Rick says, “I still felt pretty hopeless. I wasn’t real optimistic. But I figured we have to give it a shot. That’s the only, you know, we need somebody else involved.”

Cheryle says, “And I can remember just breaking down and telling Rick, ‘I am so sorry for all that I have done. All that I have accused you for, all the control, all the things that have, you know, broken us apart.’”

Rick remembers, “It was neat to see, in a way, the real Cheryle coming out in this, even though it was painful. Just seeing her be able to –her real true feelings come out, that was the first glimmer of hope that I had. I knew that the girl I had fell in love with was still in there somewhere. You know, deep down, I knew what we used to have.”

“It just started opening up that door of trust and hope.” Says Cheryle.

Through counseling and a marriage class at church, God opened up their hearts to build trust and love again.

Rick says of God’s involvement in their lives, “He joins two people together to be permanent, you know, to be one. And, you know, I love Cheryle. And, you know, I almost feel like I loved her from the moment I saw her.”

Rick and Cheryle both say their marriage is strong today. They give thanks to God for doing what they thought was impossible.

Cheryle says, “Where I am today, I never thought could be possible; to be free, to be open with Rick, completely open. I told him, my new motto: ‘no secrets.’ The trials are worth all the heartache, all the pain, because when you get to the other side, what God does in your heart, what He does in your being, is so rich, all you got to do is just yield, you know.  Let go.”

Rick says, “It’s all about Him. I mean we wouldn’t be here without Him. He continually is drawing us to Himself and I’m just so thankful that He doesn’t give up on us.”

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