It was 1987, we had been married six years, and I was done. But, I was trapped, I couldn’t walk away; I had said, “’til death do us part.” I loved my husband deeply, but our relationship was strained, volatile, and unfulfilling. He, being a typical male, wasn’t aware that things were that bad. We loved the Lord, loved our kids, our church, and enjoyed being a military family. We just didn’t know how to love and respect each other. He was a workaholic, visionary, and a go-getter. I was a supporter who felt like the scum of the earth. We were ministry leaders, had our own college/career home group, worked with the youth group of approximately 400, and with children’s church. He was the superintendent over the Sunday school, and I was one of the workers for Superchurch (a 350+ strong kid’s program), substituting for the speaker once in a while so he could have a Sunday off. We had something going every night of the week except Mondays. Our pastor was adamant about not scheduling anything on Monday evenings and making it a family night, except once a year when we had a special revival meeting.
On Mondays, we were told as leaders to not take any ministry calls or appointments, but to focus solely on our families. Being poor, we couldn’t go out, so usually ate dinner, played with the kids a bit before bed, then I would attempt a conversation that usually ended in an argument, and he would go to bed. I would stay up praying and crying about what a failure I was as a wife.
That spring a man, Edwin Louis Cole, was coming to our town to do a men’s conference called ‘Maximized Manhood’. It was just for men, an unusual thing. I thought that kind of odd at first, but when I heard what the subject matter was, I thought it would be a good idea for my husband to go. We didn’t have the money, was his biggest excuse. I approached one of our deacons and asked if there was any way the church could pay for him, but to not let him know I had initiated it or he wouldn’t accept it. So, they gave him a scholarship, he went to the conference, and came back a changed man. I knew he loved me, but I never felt valued or respected, like I was a valid member of our team. I felt he loved his ministry, job, and co-workers more.
He was so excited about this new style of ministry, and he learned so much. He also developed some healthy male relationships he had been lacking. He had always wanted some guy friends to hang out with, but felt guilty taking family time to go do it. We learned the value in him spending time with Godly men, iron sharpening iron – that sort of thing, and we understood the truth about becoming like those you spend time with. That conference turned my husband around to becoming a family man with a purpose. Since then he has become heavily involved in men’s ministries; we saw it was a far more effective way to change the lives of children and families. If you change the man, you change the family!
Through the years he was involved with the Ed Cole & The Christian Men’s Network Ministries, then moved on to Promise Keepers, and now to Men’s Ministry Catalyst with the Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conferences. Associating with the men that run and founded these organizations, and Christian brothers from all over the nation, and around the world even, has helped my husband step into his God-given manhood. He has learned to guide, guard, and govern with compassion. He learned early on to respect me as his equal partner; that Christianity is the rare “religion” that gives a woman equal status in the Kingdom. He has encouraged me and helped me to step into my womanhood and who I am as a partner on our team. Our marriage is so much better and always improving. He recognizes that it is okay to ask for help, to talk about stressors, and to work out challenges. Being with other Godly mentors has helped him see how to treat a woman, and given him the ability to ask me to treat him the way he needs.
I’m excited about Men’s Ministry Catalyst and the Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s conferences. I’ve had the privilege of working my husband’s table at several of their conferences and have met many of the men he is rubbing shoulders with. If you have any qualms at all about letting your man go to some “men’s thing”, thinking maybe they’re women-bashing or whatever, rest assured, they are getting the Word of God and learning how to apply it practically to their lives. It comes from men, to men, in the language they understand. They are taught that women are different, and given tools on how to communicate more effectively. They are given guidance on being a better father, brother, friend – in short, how to be the man of God they were created to be!
If you are a man not sure about going to one of these men’s events, concerned it won’t be any different, then rest assured it is especially refreshing for men to go to a men’s event, ran by men, with men in mind. Men don’t communicate or share the way women do. They feel uncomfortable acting like women act. I know there are those out there who say all that gender stuff is hogwash, but science has proven differently. By design, our brains, emotions, hormones, and entire make up are different. Yes, we have some similarities, be we are definitely male and female! So, don’t give up on your dream of having an amazing marriage, whether you have a lousy one now, or are single, men’s ministry run by men is what you’ve been looking for!
- Sue is the wife of Joe Shelley and actively involved in their ministry, A Father’s Approval. Please feel free to read more about their ministry on their website or in the MMC Speaker’s Portal under Joe Shelley’s listing.