A Hope Filled Marriage: Kevin & Chris Meland
By Amy Reid
The 700 Club
Kevin and Chris Meland married while they were still in high school; their son, Brandon, was born just a few months later. While their future seemed bright, marriage wasn’t exactly what either of them had thought it would be.
“I didn’t want to admit that a Christian couple could have the kind of problems that we had,” says Chris. “The excessive fighting and strife and yelling and the financial stuff. Nobody had really talked to me about that.”
“ I was actually really verbally abusive; just a horrible listener,” says Kevin.
Four years into the marriage, Chris decided to leave Kevin for someone she’d met at work.
Chris explains, “You start talking to someone; they start talking to you. Kevin didn’t know anything about it. Then one day I decided that I just didn’t want to be married to Kevin. I said, ‘I’m moving out. I found an apartment and I’m taking Brandon with me.’”
Kevin says, “The way I processed that was, ‘Okay, I’m not good enough for Chris. She doesn’t respect me.’ something that I deeply desired to have, but I don’t know if I even believed I deserved it.”
Six weeks later, Kevin persuaded Chris to come back home. Kevin says, “It was always like, ‘Let’s get this over with. Let’s fix it.’ I’m a typical guy; if it breaks, let’s fix it. I was gonna do these things in Kevin’s strength to be better, and it didn’t work.”
“For the next four years it was just like a constant collision of wills,” Chris says.
Chris and Kevin kept up the façade of a happy marriage even at their church. Then Kevin met someone else.
Kevin explains,“I just said, ‘Hey, if I’m not a good leader in this house, maybe I can be one someplace else. Chris will be better off without me. Brandon doesn’t need to be around this all the time. When I see him on the weekends I’ll be a better person.’ It was all again about making these things happen in my own strength. I didn’t ever go to God and try to seek godly counsel. We were going to church regularly and my pastor tried to talk to me and I just pushed him away.” Kevin told Chris he wanted a divorce.
Chris was shocked by his request. “Probably what hit me the hardest is that I knew it was because I had really failed spiritually,” she says. “I mean I knew that I was not at all the kind of wife that I thought I was; that I was all about works. I was a performance-based type of wife. Instead of like, ‘What is in my heart towards you? Am I really loving you unconditionally?’ That’s the thing that haunted me the most when he left is I just was faced with, ‘No I’m not.’”
Since Chris was a mediator in the court system, she was able to expedite their divorce. It was final one month later.
Kevin remembers the moment things changed for him. “I was working on my house,” he says. “My dad was there; it was seriously like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Enough. You know better.’ I literally reached over to my dad and said, ‘Dad, I can’t live this way. I know better. You guys taught me better than this.’ It was in that moment, everything I’d learned about Christ and His unconditional love for me was just on the surface.”
Kevin decided to try to make a new start with Chris and went to talk to her.
“I was so disgusted; I just wanted nothing to do with him,” Chris says, “He’s just like, ‘Would you be willing to listen to me? Would you take some time just to hear me out?’ I’m like, ‘No.’”
Kevin says, “That night I had to sit in my kitchen alone and go, ‘Wow. Now I’m alone. That place I hate to be. But, God I have you.’ I remember saying over and over, night after night, ‘If Chris doesn’t come around, I have you.’”
Kevin got serious about his relationship with God and began writing letters to Chris. “I thought, ‘Well, I can write her letters and communicate the truth that I should have been communicating.’ the things I loved about her when we got married.Those letters were about me owning that stuff. That was about me saying, ‘I’m just asking you to forgive me,’” says Kevin.
Then after several weeks, Chris had a change of heart that surprised even her. “It was 100% an act of the Holy Spirit. “I’m not joking,” says Chris. “I mean, a lot of people say. ‘God spoke to me and I did this.’ I didn’t hear anything. Nothing. It wasn’t like an audible voice or like a gong or something like that. I literally feel like my heart was so hardened, I don’t know. There was like an ache inside. Like, ‘What if? What if you don’t do this?’”
Kevin and Chris went through intense counseling to learn how to rebuild their relationship. In March of 1999, one year after their divorce, they remarried. Today, Kevin and Chris work together helping other couples through their retreat, Mountain Haven Marriage Ministry. They‘ve learned what it takes for a relationship to be truly successful.
“The difference between this marriage and the first one is now we have the tools. We know what to do.” Kevin says, “We know that we have to absolutely lean on Christ.”
“You gotta focus on who you are in Christ before you can focus on a marriage.” Chris adds, “Just believing in the fact that Christ can change you to be a better spouse; that’s gotta be your goal.”
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