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My wife, Leslie, and I lived a fairy-tale life. A home in an exciting, upscale neighborhood.

Two beautiful children. The exhilaration and challenge of climbing the corporate ladder. Sure, we had issues to work through in our marriage, but our relationship remained strong and secure. Our deep love for each other smoothed over a lot of rough edges. Then unexpectedly, someone came between us. That someone was none other than God himself.

Is the God-Centeredness of God Precious?

Leslie announced one day that, after a long period of searching, she had decided to become a follower of Jesus Christ. To me, this was awful news! That was the opening salvo in what turned out to be a turbulent, emotion-churning phase of our marriage. Our values began to clash, our attitudes started to conflict, and our priorities and desires were suddenly at odds. Every time she tried to help me understand, I would ridicule her or ignore her pleas.

Leslie later said this experience was like visiting some beautiful and romantic city, drinking in its wonderful sights and sounds, but knowing I was neither interested in going with her nor hearing about it when she got back.

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Does a Good God Want Me in a Bad Marriage?

I felt like a victim of bait and switch. I had married one Leslie — the fun-loving, risk-taking Leslie — and she was being transformed into someone different. I wanted the old Leslie back! Everything culminated one hot, humid day while I was mowing the lawn after another of our arguments. But before it was too late, Leslie learned how to live her faith in a way that began to attract me rather than repel me.

She learned how to grow and even flourish in her relationship with Christ, despite discouragement from me.

Help! I'm In Love With A Married Man

Though Leslie would admit that she made mistakes, she was the one who restored equilibrium to our relationship. Shift your focus from your struggles to your Savior. Staying riveted on the plight of a mismatched marriage bogs us down in our troubles rather than lifting our eyes toward the One who deserves our primary allegiance, the One who meets needs that our spouse never could.

God recalibrates our life, and He empowers us to love our spouse when that person is not very lovable.

Beyond Four Boarders: Doreen C. Mampani: Books

He loves our partner even more than we do! So pursue the joy of God — resting in His presence — rather than the happiness of better external circumstances.

Leslie never tried to hide from me that she loved Jesus and wanted to grow in her relationship with Him. I was quite aware of her devotion to Christ and the fact that she was praying and studying the Bible. However, Leslie was wise to pursue her spiritual growth out of my presence. That practical concession enabled her to take the next step in keeping her relational priorities straight.

Make your spouse the No. One reason for my angry outbursts during our mismatched time was the feeling that I was losing the woman I loved. To put it bluntly, I was jealous of Jesus! It felt like Leslie had broken our marriage agreement by seeking comfort and encouragement from someone else.

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Instead of ignoring me in favor of Christ, church and her Christian friends, Leslie redoubled her efforts to be a caring, thoughtful spouse. I could see that I was still the most important person in her life — just as she was in mine. Leslie made sure that we were able to continue pursuing those things together. And though she desperately wanted me to recognize my need for Christ, she continued to love me as her partner — not as her project. She saw that it would be healthier for our marriage if she would emphasize all the things she loved about me.

The more she accentuated my positive attributes, the more motivated I was to live up to her praises. I considered myself an atheist, but Leslie refused to let that term define me. Instead, she tried to see me as God saw me: as a treasured part of His creation, a human being whose soul was etched with the likeness of Him, a wayward son whom He longed to connect with. At one point, Leslie had had enough. I had belittled her beliefs once too often.

Everything within her was itching to fight sarcasm with sarcasm, to give me a dose of my own medicine. What could be more emotionally satisfying than verbally cutting me down to size? She fought the temptation to sink to my level and give me the tongue-lashing that I admittedly deserved. The Christian principles that you bring to your marriage will change the flavor of your relationship. Be a truth teller, a servant, a forgiver , a person of humility, integrity and kindness. When you finally get married and it's all over, you come home to a giant mess in your home and life.

It will take you several months to reconstruct everything you destroyed, find everything you've misplaced, write thank you notes, visit with relatives who couldn't come to your wedding, figure out where to put all of your wedding gifts, get caught up at work, and generally find the top of your desk. It's not easy. It's not fun.

#1: I now know that sex isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I was away on business for more than a month starting two days after we got back from our honeymoon. As you can imagine, I was really far behind by the time I got home. I was also sick, tired and overwhelmed. Despite having lived with my husband Bill for a few years before we got married, suddenly life was different. Name changes, wills, legal docs, changing bank accounts, and finally properly training the puppy we'd adopted during our engagement hideous timing. I felt like I was drowning. And that was the exact moment when one of my best friends decided to get needy.

Then again, maybe I was being a self-absorbed, crappy friend. I had a lot going on and I'll own that I wasn't around for her as much I had been pre-wedding. But I also had some really good excuses for it. The more pressure she applied, the more I pulled away from her. Before too long, I found myself avoiding one of my best friends. By Christmas, she sent me what can only be considered a "break up" email. She told me that I was a lousy friend and she wanted her stuff back shaking my head.

The email was so direct and determined that I decided not to fight it. I took the path of least resistance and sent my husband and a friend over to her townhouse to reclaim an absolute ton of furniture I'd loaned her. True story -- I swear to God -- she put her house on the market, quit her job and moved halfway across the country within six months.