The Forehands: Inside a Stained Glass Marriage
By Jewel Graham Taylor
The 700 Club
“You want to marry somebody that's going to be a great mom and has great morals and high values and someone who loves the Lord. She had all those intangible,” Dale Forehand tells The 700 Club. “Man, I knew that she was the one for me.”
When Dale Forehand saw Jena in the choir loft one Sunday morning, he knew he had to meet her. Jena recalls, “Dale had a lot of spunk, a lot of love for life, but he loved the Lord.“
Still in college, the two dated for four years before marrying in 1988.
“We were doing a lot of the things we were told to do,” Dale says. “Get married, have two kids, have a nice home, climb the corporate ladder, go to church on Sunday, spend your time at the golf course, pour your life into your kids. But the problem with the American dream for families and marriages is you can get so busy chasing that dream [that] you can lose each other in the process.”
Jena says, “Dale and I were married for 7 and ½, almost 8 years when there was just kind of this slow erosion that began to take place in our marriage.”
The arguing turned into yelling which in turn ended in silence. The fighting escalated, and Dale couldn’t take it anymore. Determined to regain control, he kicked Jena out of the house.
“I just kinda threw the gauntlet down one day, and I said, ‘Jena, I'm done. I'm done with you. I'm done with this marriage. When I get back, you better be gone.’ I take her suitcase from underneath our bed, take her clothes out of her dresser and I throw them in that suitcase. I played golf and delivered my kids to a swimming pool. Yeah, I had just kicked my wife out of the house. I had just ended my marriage.”
Jena says, “I felt my world came crashing down, because everything that identified who I was as a mom and a wife and where I lived was suddenly just gone. What do you do with that? So you feel like you're standing in the driveway with a bunch of broken pieces in your hands and how in the world is something good going to come out of that?”
Several days later Dale and his twin brother took the kids out of Vacation Bible School and left town. When her kids disappeared from church, Jena immediately filed for divorce, determined to get full custody of her children. Dale wasn’t giving up without a fight. He returned, and they took it to court.
“After we went to the courthouse and finally got before the judge with our lawyers, they said to us, ‘If you want custody of the kids, you need to stay in the home with them,’” Jena says. “So we lived in our house together 15 months. He lived in one bedroom, and I cried myself to sleep every night. I can remember the only the prayer that I could get out was two words, ‘help me.’ You know, I think now looking back it's probably the best prayers I've ever prayed in my life.”
The nights were filled with prayer, but the days were filled with divorce and custody battles.
“It’s about gaining stuff that you can use against them in the court hearing,” Dale explains, “and you got a year and a half to do this almost. You start wearing tape recorders, and you begin to start saying things that make a fight out of it and get them to say something or to do something or to scream or yell or be violent. The pressure rises, and so even though we were under the divorce decree, the fighting didn't stop.”
Dale and Jena were the first couple in their county to receive joint custody. They were not happy about their tie. Several months into the divorce, Jena was exhausted from the continued fighting. “I just remember having this breaking point in my life. It had to stop. The whole point of the divorce was for this to stop, and it hasn't stopped. I just opened my mouth and out came, ‘What are we doing? What are we doing? Would you come home and let's try to fix this thing.’ I promise you. I looked behind me like, ‘Where in the world? What was that? Where did that come from?’ It kind of took Dale back. I think that was kind of the moment that was a huge turning point for us.”
Dale adds, “I'm in a huge battle in my lack of understanding about how to do it, how to even begin to reconcile a broken marriage. I needed my marriage to be restored. I needed my soul to be restored. I needed restoration, not relief.”
Dale and Jena worked through each and every issue in over one year of Christian counseling. With much prayer and forgiveness, Dale and Jena remarried, determined to keep Christ at the center of their second marriage.
“I just remember going, ‘Thank You, God, for a second chance. Thank You for restoration for the You have proven Yourself faithful.’ I was more in love with her at that moment than I had ever been before that time. My love for her was new; it had changed,” Dale says.
Jena agrees, “We just went back to an altar two very different people. I can honestly say Dale and I were very different people the way we approached life, the way we saw our purpose of life, the way we saw our identity, the way we saw how we parented. Everything changed because Christ was now the center of it where He had kind of just been a part of it, but not the core.”
Today, Dale and Jena travel the country encouraging couples with the real life experiences in their book, Stained Glass Marriages.
“God is a redeeming God,” says Jena, “and He has taken those years the locusts have eaten and restored those in our home and restored the hearts of us as individuals and our children and then us as a family. It's been a great thing.”
Dale adds, “The miracle of a restored or a growing or a thriving marriage is the one miracle that God really does want us to take an active part in. We have a part to play in the restoration of our homes, the growing of our love and the development of a marriage that would bring God honor and glory. With His grace and His power, all things are able.”
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