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Why I gave up on my marriage

Heiko Dotterweich gave up on God and wanted to walk out on his family, until he learned there was still hope for his marriage

One day I snapped and said, “This is it, I want out!"

The distance between me and my wife, Angela, had grown into a chasm after 16 years of marriage.

The words of affirmation weren’t there. I would do so much, but I would never get a “Hey, thanks!” I made the same mistakes. It was me constantly correcting her, and her correcting me. We didn’t work on things anymore.

Everybody says divorce should never be an option, and I always told myself I would never go through that, but I was getting to the point where you have doubts. I thought, “Maybe there’s someone else out there for me?”

I thought I had to work on myself, on my own.

A Hard Decision

I served on the deacon’s board and in men's ministry at the church we had attended for 13 years, but I was not trusting God with my life at that point, and I left the church.

If I wanted comfort, I would sit at the bar with a few friends and have a few drinks. I felt there was a wall starting to build higher and higher between me and God. Nothing was moving me anymore.

The one-year separation, beginning in 2012, wasn’t the right thing to do, but, at the time, it was the perfect decision. I thought I had to work on myself, on my own.

There were three children in the mix, so it was hard. I saw them every day and had them every other weekend, but I missed out on a lot.

I want people to have hope.

A Son Leads The Way

When I returned to my wife in 2013, we would take two steps forward, and then there would be two steps back again. It was like, “Is this ever going to work?” I was on the edge and headed for divorce.

My son, Christian, was attending Fuse at NewSpring. He would say, “Come, Dad! It’s so different.” And I would say, “Why would I want to see a man on projector screens?”

When my son came back from Gauntlet 2015 and stepped off the bus, he said, “You’ve got to come Sunday!” and I started crying. I was seeking God’s guidance, not knowing what, when, or where He wanted me, and it was like God was saying, “Come to NewSpring. You won’t be disappointed.”

After that first visit, I told my wife —  who I didn’t know had been attending NewSpring, too — “I want to see where this is going to go.”

We understood clearer than ever before what God wanted for our marriage.

A Clear Difference

Everything became clear the first week of the marriage series, “Better Together”. I cried with my arms wide open to heaven, saying, “This was your plan all along, God! I wanted nothing to do with you, but you never gave up on me.”

We understood clearer than ever before what God wanted for our marriage. It was so clear that even a sixth-grader could understand it.

Our No.1 key was communication. Instead of always seeing the bad things, we started pointing out the positive. I would just compliment — not compliment and then criticize. And we took more time to ourselves where we could talk to each other, instead of just talk in passing.

Jesus is 100 percent the center point in our lives.

Stronger Together

Our love for each other has grown so much stronger. I would never in the past tell her what I was feeling. Now my wife has become my best friend and my accountability. I can go to her regardless of the situation.

We became closer to God than we have ever been. When you start reading the Bible and doing devotions, and really investing in each other, the more you want to put God first. Jesus is 100 percent the center point in our lives. We know with God nothing is impossible.

My kids are amazed in the midst of all this. They noticed our relationship was about us doing stuff together instead of alone. We take a night or two every month to focus on ourselves.

I want people to have hope. I’m walking through marriage problems with a couple of friends right now. If I can help someone not go down that route, not make the same mistake I did, I will.

Through my family’s story, I want people to know, no matter what, don’t ever give up.

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