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CBN.com On the Stewarts' wedding day, they couldn’t have been happier. However, down the road a bit...
"Oh, I was willing’ to throw the phone straight at him," Michelle confesses.
Michael says, "It really physically disgusted me to be around her. We hated each other."
How did that happen? Mike and Michelle Stewart married young with the best of intentions.
Michelle recalls, "I wanted a life with him -- to spend forever with him."
Michael concurs, "I was in love at first sight. [We said,] 'We’d like to get married.' We talked to the pastor one time, and we got married."
Their marriage was happy for several years. But with the pressures of life, the shine wore off.
"I thought that our differences would easily be overcome," Michelle says. "Quickly, I found out that was not the case."
One of those differences was that Michelle felt stuck at home with two babies while her friends had careers and freedom.
"Some of her friends started taking precedence over me. I got to feeling more of a jealousy," Michael says.
Michelle spent more and more time out with friends. Michael had to fend for himself.
"I didn’t do laundry; I didn’t cook; he had to do his own cooking. I was very selfish. It was all about me," Michelle says.
Michael adds, "I tried to talk with her. 'What am I doing wrong? Can I do something better?' I started having to take care of the children too."
"I’ll be honest with you," Michelle says. "I was tired of changing diapers and chasing kids around all day."
The anger and disrespect only escalated over the next year. After five years, Michelle was done. "I really thought life would be better without him.
Michael reached the end when he called home from a work trip.
"You call home. You usually say, 'I miss you.' Nice mushy stuff. But when I called this time, there was nothing. It was just like I had called a stranger. It killed me. I was in St. Louis in a hotel room by myself and no one there to talk to about it. Got the feeling’[that] 'I don’t want to be your wife. I don’t want to be a mother.' It was a bad feeling."
Michelle had asked Michael for a divorce several times.
"I’m not gonna survive this," Michael continues. "There’s no choice. We have to. So she left. I ended up in a two-week period losing about 25 pounds. Just total depression and hurt from it."
"Emotionally, I couldn't have cared less," Michelle says. "I was so happy to be out of that marriage. I did see Michael hurting, and that bothered me a bit to see that. But I couldn’t go back."
Michael says, "The biggest fear I had was that the court system was gonna take my kids away from me. We agreed I’d keep the kids about 70 percent of the time 'till she could get on her feet."
Michael also started going back to church, which he’d let slip for years. He met a friend who made a deep impression on him.
"He walked in and it was like – that’s a Christian. He’s a real Christian, one that’s living purposely for Christ. It made me realize that’s what I was supposed to be doing."
As time went on, he also read the Bible more and started praying again. As for Michelle...
"When I first left, everything was great," she says. "I had a group of friends, but then they split up. I was left with just me. I took a look around, and I was all alone."
As the years went by, Michelle found “freedom” a lot harder than she expected. She wondered why a couple of friends at work seemed so much more content than she was.
"They had their act together, and they were so happy all the time. I just remember Susan telling me, 'You need to go to church.'”
Michelle had always hated church. But after being asked every Monday morning if she’d gone, she got tired of saying no.
"So I went and that was really the first time I heard the pastor speak about Jesus on the cross and how He gave His life for mine. I knelt down and prayed, “Jesus, I can’t take back the things I’ve done, but would You forgive me?'”
Michael grew in his relationship with God and finally reached the place where life was good again.
"I still did not have a companion, which I desperately wanted," he explains. "I’d pray every night, 'Lord, send me a Christian woman.' In the back of my mind, I’d say, 'Don’t let it be Michelle.' Finally one night I felt He said, 'I did. It’s Michelle.' I was like, 'This can’t be the Lord talking to me, because Lord knows she ain’t saved!'"
Unbeknownst to him, Michelle was growing in the Lord too.
"I really wanted to please God and started taking baby steps. I stopped drinking, going out with friends, and took more responsibility with the children. I realized what I’d done and wanted him to be happy, so I actually prayed for him to find a Christian wife."
Michael heard his sons say that their mom was taking them to church. So he decided to drop by one night and test her.
"'If you were to stand before God, why would He let you enter heaven?' I’m thinking, 'I’m out the door now, because there ain’t no way she’s gonna get this right.' She says, 'I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior.' That was the Lord speaking to me! I didn’t know what to think about that, because I still didn’t like her."
Michael thought long and hard about the idea of reuniting with Michelle and talked with his pastor. Finally, he asked what she thought.
"Here comes her ex-husband of six years wanting’ to see her," Michael recalls. "She was scared. I could tell, and I was too."
"We would go with the kids," she says. "We’d meet and drive together to ball games. That was mostly our dates – ball games. I regretted what I’d done as far as Michael and me, so we did believe we needed Christian counseling."
So they got extensive counseling. Seven months later, Mike and Michelle Stewart became Mr. and Mrs. Stewart -- again.
"It’s been sweet. Marriage has been very sweet," Michelle says.
"We had agape love this time, a spiritual love instead of just an attraction," Michael says. "What we lost is a lot of selfishness. Now I do things for her and the kids -- not me. She’s the same way."
The Stewarts both believe that what worked for them can work for anyone else too.
Michael says, "When I did it myself, I did a good job of messing it up. When you finally submit to the Lord and do whatever it takes, He’ll open the door for you to do it."
Michelle concurs, "I actually tell them there’s hope when they believe there’s none. If He can change me, my heart, then anything is possible."
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