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Surviving the Challenges of Marriage

"The thing I loved about her when I first saw her, was that she was a woman that looked like she knew where she was going. She looked like that she knew what her purpose was.”

After more than 25 years of marriage James and Tryphena relish date night.  They reminisce on how their love story began.

“I fell in love with him because his heart was after God and that was something that was attractive to me.”

James proposed during church service on New Year’s Eve and in 1993 the couple married with hopes of a beautiful beginning, but their busy lives created challenges they didn’t expect.

“When we got married we were just working, running, ripping trying to take care of the kids. Trying to make money. We weren’t really focusing on each other anymore; focusing on really getting out and dating and doing those things we did before we got married and that took a toll on the marriage over time.”

Then there were money problems. Early on, Tryphena struggled to carry the families’ financial load on her own. her hair salon brought in good business but James work as a contractor wasn’t as successful as he hoped for. 

“You know my pride was like I don’t want to go get a regular job because this is what I do. I do floors and she would be telling me like look, ‘You need to do something, you need to do something else.’ And I’m like, well, you see me out here. I’m trying every day. I work hard everyday. But it wasn’t enough.”

“But it wasn’t enough. I would call him lazy. I was like they don’t know you at church.”

Their disagreements over money escalated over the years. In 2011, another disagreement over finances, led the couple to their darkest moment.

“I’d asked him to pay the house mortgage and he said he would but he took all of the money out of my account and didn’t put any of his money in there.”

“I threw my checkbook at her and I was like this is your God.”

“I grabbed our wedding pictures and I started to rip them and I said, This is what I think of us. And he got a lighter and began to burn our wedding pictures. I ran in the kitchen and got the knives and I told him I was going to kill him.

“Then I was trying to take the knives out of her hand. When she yanked, she cut my hand. But by that time the police had been called.”

“I never had a speeding ticket. I worked with kids. I had a beauty salon and all of these things…and my marriage was broken.”

Tryphena was taken to jail. After facing a judge, she was released on the condition that she attend anger management and marriage counseling with James. Their pastor recommended a 16-week program at their church, aimed at strengthening marriages.

“Once we both started doing that it was like okay, let me work on me. Let me work on what I need to do. How can I be a better husband to you? How can I be a better father to my children?”

Eventually they both began to share their hearts.

“You know, I was a very passive person you know. I would let people take advantage of me that type of thing, because I didn’t have good self-esteem.”

“I needed to be softer. I needed to be taken care of. He needed someone to encourage him.”

By the end of the program their love and commitment to their marriage had been renewed.  

“I forgave her and I knew that she had forgiven me and I think healing began to happen. God began to heal us both and bring healing in our marriage. I got a different job and started being the head of my household. Started making sure things were taken care of. That really turned things around too because it wasn’t that stress on her.”

Today James and Tryphena say surviving their challenges has made their relationship stronger.  They serve in ministry and speak out about issues married couples are facing.

“We don’t let things build up. When we have disagreements we really talk about them. We talk about the good the bad the ugly. So, being honest and truthful and just being able to date each other…. But one of the most important things is prayer, and asking God to come in daily.”

In their book Marriage Reloaded they share their story along with lessons that have added to the success of their lasting marriage.

“We’ve raised three beautiful daughters. To see their dreams come to pass that brings joy to my heart. To see my wife doing what she loves to do and to see the things that we are planning to do together.”

Now, they treat every day as an occasion to cherish the true meaning of love.

“Valentine’s day is every day for us.”

“When I wake up in the morning and look at her…when I see her I get excited every day.”

“I’m so grateful that God didn’t let me throw my diamonds and my pearls away. God is the threefold cord in our marriage that is not easily broken. Without him we could have never made it.”

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