Murray and Sue Wagener want to share their story of marriage on the rocks and how God stepped in to pick up the pieces, to give others hope.
Murray: Our marriage wasn’t perfect, we’d been under pressure almost since day one with work and family commitments, and had endured some hardships. That had taken its toll over the years. From early on Sue and I recognised that we were very different people, however we worked through it and I used to describe the marriage as 95 percent good. The problem was that gradually the five percent grew and we became two individuals in one marriage both not having our needs met. We didn’t argue or fight but neither of us were really happy – we were coping. Eventually I simply gave up, I didn’t believe Sue could ever make the changes I needed. I had an affair and moved out.
Sue: I was devastated when Murray dropped the bombshell. I couldn’t believe what he said at first and I really hadn’t seen it coming. Sure we had our problems but nothing we couldn’t work on. I wanted him to stay and work things out. But he left. It was like a switch flicked inside me – I was going to fight for the man I loved. I wasn’t going to give up on my husband. I prayed and leaned on family, friends and my life group, held onto hope and saw a wonderful counsellor. I knew that to get Murray back I would need to make some changes. I really believe this was a God given strength, and a calmness that’s not natural for my personality.
Murray: I had nothing against Sue, I didn’t like to see her suffer and I continued to support her financially and we maintained contact. Going back to Sue was not on my agenda.
Sue: Months passed by and it was hard sometimes to remain hopeful. It wasn’t easy, in fact on several occasions I told God I had had enough – just get it sorted! I never took off my wedding rings, they were a symbol of my marriage, love and commitment to Murray no matter what.
Murray: Sue had made huge changes and she wanted me back. After 10 months, my relationship came to an abrupt end on the day before I was due to travel to Europe to do a trans-Atlantic crossing on my brother-in-law’s yacht. It was a very dark period spiritually during the passage and I rediscovered the power of prayer. I came to the conclusion that Sue had shown total unconditional love to me and it was time for me to do the same for her. I realised just how much I loved her and that if our relationship was to work I would need to make a few changes myself. I vowed not to make any negative comments about the past or indeed the future. I knew that Sue would need to be able to vent and I needed to listen. I decided that she needed to realise I was prepared to change and the first thing to do was put my wedding ring back on. I had taken it off many years ago.
Sue: My prayers weren’t answered in ways I could have imagined or as quickly as I had hoped – but they were answered. Not all our family and friends supported our reunion, worrying that it was too soon, and Murray received a number of home truths.
Murray: I asked Sue to renew our wedding vows, because I wanted to show publicly to our family and friends that I loved Sue and that this is for keeps. I wanted to clear the air, to be up front about what had happened, and to show my commitment to Sue. The first thing I did in the service was to state how proud of Sue I was and show her how much I loved her. That was the focus of our service and is the focus of our relationship.
Sue: We invited our family and friends to share our renewal of vows at church. It was a really cleansing process for me particularly expressing our vows. Now we communicate with each other much better, spend more time together, participate in each other’s interests, pray together, and I really feel Murray’s love for me.Murray: I give thanks to God for his unconditional love and forgiveness, and for Sue’s love and forgiveness. I feel grateful and blessed to be rewarded with a level of happiness I haven’t experienced before. My wedding ring’s not coming off. It’s a symbol of my recommitment to Sue.
Our recommitment vows
Sue, I abused your trust, deceived you and was unfaithful to you. Thank you for your love, enduring faith and forgiveness. I have caused you a great deal of pain and I regret it. This last year has been an amazing journey as we have grown back together. Thank you for your grace and your efforts to participate fully in my life and interests. I look forward to a future based on our unconditional love for one another, and pledge that never again will we be driven apart. Once again I promise to love you, honour you and keep you, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.
Murray, 40 years ago I promised to love you as long as we both should live I never imagined that I would face losing you, or the depths of despair I would feel at that prospect. Today we are on the other side of that mountain and I am thrilled (ecstatic) that I get to continue life’s journey by your side. Once again I promise to love you, honour you and keep you, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.