Our marriage was over, but we found the hope to begin again
Lindsay and Jeff Oehmen were divorced and living in separate states, but divine intervention brought their family back together
Jeff and Lindsay Oehmen's story is proof that you can't go back, but you can start over. Watch their short video above, and read the story behind the story ...
Lindsay didn’t think her marriage was worth fighting for anymore.
If you fall out of love, you cut your losses, you find someone new. It’s as simple as that, she told herself.
After nine years, she and her husband, Jeff, had simply grown apart.
“I didn't feel connected or in love with my husband,” she says. “I didn't respect him. We fought all the time.”
The arguments started mere months into their marriage. Jeff was crushed by the conflict, and he began to withdraw.
“I felt I couldn't do anything right, no matter how hard I tried,” he says. “It was easier to blame her than to look in the mirror. It got to the point where I would work late just so I wouldn't have to go home.”
There was no, ‘what can I do for you?’ There was just pure selfishness. - Lindsay
Nothing Was Working
The last two years were the worst, Lindsay says. Their daughters were 1 and 3, and all the struggles of parenting were heaped onto their dysfunction.
“There was no, ‘What can I do for you?’ There was just pure selfishness,” Lindsay says. “I remember fantasizing about how much happier I would be just by myself with the girls.”
They tried counseling. Any peace or understanding they’d achieve in the office didn’t last the walk to the parking lot.
They didn’t know what else they could do, so they separated — for the second time.
Jeff left Greenville for an advertising job in Chicago, the only place he could find work in his field and earn enough to support himself and his children.
“That was the hardest day of my life,” he says about leaving his daughters behind. “There was a lot of beating myself up over that. It was hard to get through a lot of days.”
The next morning I woke up and felt like a completely different person - Lindsay
A Sudden Realization
For the next 18 months, Lindsay threw herself into the party scene, hanging out with girlfriends.
“I thought it was fun until it wasn't,” she says.
Then one Saturday night, a month after the divorce became final in the fall of 2013, she remembers watching a movie with a scene where a grown daughter returns home to a loving family home.
Lindsay lost it. Her childhood was marked by abuse and a broken home — her mom divorced three times — and she realized that’s not what she wanted for her own girls.
She dropped to her knees, crying and praying for more than an hour to a God that she had barely considered her whole adult life.
“I could feel His presence so fully I felt like He was just right there in the room with me,” she says. “The next morning I woke up and felt like a completely different person.”
She began praying every day for God's will to be made clear. Over the course of about 10 days, her negative and angry feelings toward Jeff slowly started to evaporate.
One day, looking at a photo of Jeff, God spoke to her heart plain as day that her place in this world was with her husband.
“I knew I couldn't tell him any of this,” Lindsay says. “I knew that he would never believe me, so I just gave it to God and prayed.”
You could see the Holy Spirit through her eyes - Jeff
Hopes and Fears
At the time, Jeff recalls, he had a serious girlfriend in Chicago. She had asked him once what he’d do if his wife wanted to reconcile.
“My response was, ‘Definitely not!’”
There was too much baggage, he thought.
But arriving at the airport for a Christmas visit to South Carolina to see the girls, Jeff couldn’t mistake the change in Lindsay.
“It was almost like she was a different person,” he says. “You could see the Holy Spirit through her eyes.”
Later, when they began to talk, she told him about asking Jesus into her life. She confessed that she wanted to start over. And Jeff knew, with God, it was possible.
God poured out blessings - Jeff
Jeff went back to Chicago without making a decision. He went forward with a planned visit to his family over New Year’s with his girlfriend.
Doubts about working toward reconciliation began to fill his head.
“I was starting to talk myself out of it, rather than follow my heart and follow what God was telling me,” he says.
Jeff saw obstacles in the fact that his relationship with his girlfriend seemed good, and his past experience told him it was too difficult to get a job back in the Upstate.
But he got a phone call out of the blue with a job offer in Greenville. Then, Jeff’s landlord asked him to move out. Finally, Jeff’s girlfriend unexpectedly pushed for marriage and kids — not at all what he wanted.
Jeff picked up the phone to call Lindsay, just as she was arriving for work on a Monday morning.
Lindsay had started out the day weeping, crying out to God on her bed.
“I'll never forget his words or the way I felt when he said, ‘I choose you,’” Lindsay says.
When Jeff took the job in Greenville, his old employer agreed to pay him a month’s salary and insurance to ease his transition.
“God poured out blessings,” he says.
I was waiting for that moment of, we're going to start fighting again - Jeff
A Different Dynamic
After moving home, Jeff still was guarded, not sure whether he could trust that things would be different.
“It was a very scary position for me to be in because I was waiting for that moment of, we're going to start fighting again,” he says.
The turning point for him was a decision to ask God for full forgiveness for the past.
“At that moment, that's when I knew we could do this. We could completely start over,” Jeff says. “We could start fresh — forget the past and start a new life with Christ at the center.”
Although Jeff was raised as a Lutheran, he’d never followed Jesus closely. He rededicated his life to Jesus and was baptised by immersion at NewSpring, where they had decided to attend church as a family.
They discovered that, with Jesus at the center of their relationship, God was pulling them together.
Any arguments they did have weren't brutal anymore. Both were focused on giving a more Christlike response to one another.
Not only do we love each other, but we actually like each other - Lindsay.
A New Marriage
God completely changed the dynamic of the household. In October of 2014, they remarried in a simple ceremony in Asheville, just the two of them and their daughters.
“I have a lot more patience in terms of responding to things. There's less of me going off the handle and yelling. Now I always turn around and say, ‘I blew it. I'm so sorry. That was on me,’” Jeff says. “We've gone from arguing to writing love notes on the mirror on a daily basis.”
Lindsay says, “It’s not about us any more. It’s about glorifying God.”
For Lindsay, the change stems from having the joy and peace of Christ in her heart.
“I'm a happy person, and I don't think he ever knew me as a happy person,” she says.
That, in turn, made her more open and vulnerable — instead of keeping her husband at arm's length, as she had done throughout their marriage.
“Our house is a happy place,” she says. “Not only do we love each other, but we actually like each other. We have a feeling of connection that we never felt and never had.”
Praise the Lord that any of this is even possible - Lindsay
A Daily Miracle
Lindsay and Jeff say their lives are proof of God’s promise that anyone can start over if they put their hope and trust in Jesus.
Jeff gets quickly tearful as he reflects on his second chance to be a father to his daughters. Getting tackled by his girls every day at the door to the screams of, “Daddy!” is a feeling he can’t describe, he says.
“It's unbelievable. It's surreal,” he says. “Praise the Lord that any of this is even possible.”
“We will say our prayers at night, and I will just say, ‘Thank you God for our family being together,’ and they just think that that's normal. And for us, it's not,” she says.