A Marriage on the Brink

Family portrait of the Mula family
Courtesy of Barbara Mula

David had no idea. He honestly thought everything was great.

Sure, they'd lost everything when Hurricane Katrina buried their home under 15 feet of water, but he and Barbara had regrouped. David earned his master's degree, then a doctorate. After Barbara announced she was pregnant, the Saints won the Super Bowl, the family bought a bigger house and David got primary custody of Cindy, his daughter from a previous marriage.

"It was a lot of change in a short period, but it seemed like we were handling it," he says. "Then, Barbara started to worry about everything."

Turns out that Barbara had grown up in an abusive home with an abusive father. Turns out that her childhood was lonely and confusing and altogether inappropriate. Turns out that Barbara's mind had been racing all along, that she had merely been suppressing her anxieties until now. The birth of their son, Anthony, quickly put an end to that.

"I desperately did not want my son to have the childhood I did, so I stressed over everything," Barbara says. "It just pushed my husband further away.

"I was constantly criticizing David for not doing things the way I would do them with Anthony. He became distant. We lived in the same house, but we rarely talked."

"Our marriage," David says, "had fallen apart."

A glimmer of hope

How are you supposed to be a good wife and mother when you've never had a decent example? How do you create a normal family — a normal anything — when you have no concept of what normal is?

Barbara needed to talk, to confide, to learn. She recalled a woman from her past, the wife of a former youth pastor, and tracked her down through Facebook.

The woman listened, and she told Barbara about a radio program, Focus on the Family, that offers insights on marriage and parenting. Barbara told herself she would listen to it someday. A few weeks later, feeling particularly hopeless, her someday arrived. Someday became every day.

On June 12, 2012, Barbara was listening in her car as the broadcast guest recalled her troubled childhood, a marriage on the brink of divorce and how she yearned for her father's love. Barbara listened, and she heard herself. The guest said she discovered the love of her heavenly Father. She described how God saved her husband and restored her marriage.

If her God is the same as my God, Barbara thought, then why not save me? Why not save my marriage?

Barbara went home and prayed. She told God she was tired, that she had messed up her life. She bawled like a baby and asked Him for help.

The next day Barbara went into her closet, just her and God. She didn't really know why — it just felt right. She bought a Bible and read it in that closet. She prayed for wisdom, and she prayed for David.

"I didn't talk to my husband about what I was doing," she says. "I decided instead that I would let my actions speak.

"He started noticing a change in me. He didn't think it would last, but months passed and it did. My anxiety was almost nonexistent, and he noticed a peace within me. He didn't know what it was, but he wanted it."

One night they decided to watch a movie, and Barbara suggested the film Fireproof. Her friend had recommended it, but she never told Barbara it was a Christian movie — a movie about a marriage on the brink.

"At the end, I looked [at David] and tears were streaming down his face!" Barbara says. "He said, 'I want to love you like that. But I don't know how.' "

A new beginning

Barbara had purchased the book Kingdom Man after hearing about it on a Focus broadcast, and now she gave it to David. A few days later, David asked her to read an entry in his journal.

"I will never forget," Barbara says, "what his first sentence said: 'I believe I have been saved. I have a peace within me that can only be from the Holy Spirit.' It went on to say that he wanted to be a 'kingdom man,' and he wanted God to be his leader, not himself."

Barbara quickly excused herself. It was pouring outside, but she went straight to the backyard. Tears of joy mixed with rain.

"I was undone."

They are now like that couple on the radio. God restored their lives and their marriage. They suffered four miscarriages, but their faith endured. And today, their kids Cindy and Anthony have a 2-year-old little sister, Lillian.

They have weathered the storm ... again.

Do you know of a marriage in crisis? Learn more about Focus on the Family’s marriage intensives by visiting HopeRestored.com.

This article first appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Focus on the Family magazine and was originally titled "Undone by Love." If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
© 2017 Focus on the Family.

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