Friday, August 8, 2014


The U-Haul truck parked in our driveway confirmed the
truth. My husband Randy was moving away. Not just across town or to a motel for a few nights, but to a rural community five hours away. The lump that kept rising in my throat gave way to sobs. We held each other and wept.

How could I say good-bye? This was my Randy--the sweet guy from Cincinnati who could run faster than a gazelle.

We couldn’t stand the thought of being apart after high school graduation, so we applied to the same schools. In spite of our parents’ concerns because we were young, we both decided on the same college in western Pennsylvania. Soon we were planning a wedding. 

We promised to love, honor, and cherish each other in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. We didn’t have any idea of what the future held or what love would require of us.

We didn’t have the maturity to understand what real love is—love that isn’t self-seeking, but looks out for the other’s needs first. Instead, our idea of love was framed by contemporary culture and a flimsy notion: Love means never having to say you’re sorry. We quickly learned we had to say sorry a lot. 

As I watched Randy drive away that night into the Seattle drizzle, it was all I could do to keep from running after him. This time I knew love wasn’t enough, at least the kind of love that doesn’t require the best in

someone or hold them accountable for their actions. I could no longer deny the severity of Randy’s drinking problem. After a succession of alcohol treatment programs, counselors, DUI’s, financial losses and trips to the detox unit at the hospital, I made some difficult decisions. I faced the harsh reality: Randy’s alcoholism wasn’t only destroying our marriage and our family. If he wasn’t able to stay sober, he would die.

“I love you,” I told him. “I love you too much to watch you destroy yourself by drinking. I am committed to you and our marriage forever. I will be here when you are ready to live with me without alcohol.” With every ounce of strength I could muster, I asked Randy to move out. And I meant it.
And so we began what turned out to be the longest season of our lives.

Then on a golden fall morning two years after we had said goodbye, Randy and I stood at the altar again. Friends from our new community filled the tiny log church we attended. Our grown sons, Chris and Jeremy, stood beside us as our best men. We promised to love, honor, and cherish each other in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. And this time, we knew beyond any doubt that God’s love in and through us would never fail. 

Deb Kalmbach is the coauthor of Because I Said Forever: Embracing Hope in a Not-So-Perfect Marriage and the author of a book for children, Corey’s Dad Drinks Too Much. She has also contributed to The New Women’s Devotional Bible and Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace. She speaks to women about the real hope we have in Christ for facing real life issues. Deb and her husband, Randy, have recently celebrated 40+ years of not-so-perfect marriage. They live in a tiny town in eastern Washington State.

Thank you so much for sharing with us Deb.    Follow me on Twitter:   @RitaSGalieh


Rita Galieh said...

This story really touched me. The Lord is so gracious!

Deb Kalmbach said...

Rita, thanks so much for sharing my story. Yes, God is gracious! :)