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Fortifying Walls Weakens Marriage

Theirs was a physical attraction at first.  But it didn’t take long for Duane and Latoya to realize they needed each other.

Duane says, “She showed a faith in me that kinda overrode my lack of confidence.”

Latoya adds, “I had something that I loved that loved me back and that I was pouring my life into.”

When they met in 1992, he was a 20-year-old army private from Southside Chicago – a pastor’s stepson, labeled a gifted child who had strayed from his Christian upbringing.

Duane says, “People were like, ‘Oh, he's got a destiny on his life, he's going to be a millionaire by the time he's 30.’ And it was terrifying to me, cause what if I don't live up to it?”

At 17, Latoya, or “Toy” as he called her, had come from a broken home where she was verbally and sexually abused.

Latoya says, “I was very hopeful. I was building a future that I felt like was different from the one that I came from.”

By the end of four years, they were married, had three children, and Duane had been discharged from the army. Back at his parent’s church, Duane worried what others thought of him.

Duane says, “I've gone against my faith, I've gone against the projections of my life, I’m having kids left and right, I'm on welfare; this is not where I’m supposed to be.”

So, when Duane signed on with the Chicago Police Department in 1996, it was his chance to prove his worth.  Soon he was taking all the overtime and side jobs he could get.

Duane says, “I'm paying my tithe, I'm paying my offerings, I've got the kids, I go home, I go to work. As far as the church was concerned, ‘You're killing it.’”

But for LaToya, church and faith weren’t a priority.  She relied on her husband, and he was never home.

Latoya says, “It was a very lonely time. I didn't have like any friends. I don't think I ever shared it with anyone. There was no one in the church that I felt like I could talk to.”

So, she got a job - and the attention of a male co-worker.

Latoya says, “I was getting an emotional connection with another adult in a way that I needed, or I felt like I needed it.”

Soon, the emotional affair turned into a physical one.  Immediately, Toy realized what she had done.

Latoya says, “I'm like ‘This is terrible.’ Trying to build this family, have these children, have my husband, have the life that was in my head, and now I've put myself in a situation where I just messed everything up.”

So after breaking off the affair, she confessed to Duane’s mother, and gave her life to Christ.

Latoya says, “I prayed, I said, ‘Lord, if this is real, what they say is real, and you can do what they said you can do, like I needed to show up.’ There was a calm that did come over, like an assurance. I remember where I was and who I was.”
Then, she called Duane at work and told him about the affair.  Moments later he was at their door.

Duane says, “I literally felt my heart break. As soon as I saw her, I felt something break in my chest and I just slumped and started crying.”

Latoya says, “To know that that was at my hand, and I did that to someone else was painful beyond any other thing anybody could have ever done to me, was to see the look on his face when he looked at me.”

After the wave of emotions had settled, they talked, each admitting their part in the struggling relationship. For the kids’ sake, they agreed to let time heal their marriage.  But now Duane had put up a wall between him and toy, and him and god.

Latoya says, “When my husband was willing to allow me into his space, I was grateful for it. But I could tell there was – it was like a disconnect, because how do you go back to trust somebody in that space?”

Duane says, “Everything was under my own steam, under my own intellect, under my own effort.”

Then in 2009, Toy discovered an email on Duane’s computer that exposed he was having an affair.

Latoya says, “I was devastated. It crossed my mind like what – ‘Maybe I should leave.’”

Duane says, “I really thought that this was probably going to be the end of my marriage, and that's the truth. And it wasn't about the other woman. It was about the state that I was in.”

Again, they both had to look deep inside.

Latoya says, “I know my husband's hurt, I know the man that he is outside of all of this, I know what it's like to be in a broken space.”

Duane says, “This situation was something that was so much bigger than me that I could not handle that I had to depend upon Him totally.”

For Duane, it meant recommitting his life to Christ.

Duane says, “It was complete surrender. It brought me to my knees. This was an affront to who I perceived myself to be.”

The couple got counseling and fought for their marriage. It took patience, and forgiveness, but in time God healed their hearts, and their marriage.

Duane says, “It was a lot of arguments, lot of tears, but we so desperately wanted more.”

Latoya says, “Like you make that decision to forgive and then all the rest of your decisions has to line up with that. So, if I had an emotion or a feeling that did not look like forgiveness, I had to fight that and choose something different.”

The Perry’s have taken their struggles and today, help others through live-streaming on FaceBook’s “Marriage Impossible.”

Latoya says, “A great, big God seeing little 'ol me. To know that even who I was or who I am cause I’m still journeying through this thing; God loves me."

Duane says, “We can't really fully come into a walk with the Lord until he takes us to the end of ourselves. I was at the end of myself. And He was all I had left.”

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