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Living With A Stranger

Adam Brown felt he was at the end of his rope. The money was gone; bill collectors were calling, and he was responsible to take care of his wife, Laura, and newborn daughter Madeline. One more night of fighting with Laura only made matters worse, and it was too much for Adam to handle.

“Please don’t go,” Laura cried, standing at the door with their baby in her arms. “We can talk. We can make this work!”

“I don’t love you!” Adam replied. “I don’t want to be a part of this marriage! I don’t want to be a part of Madeline’s life! Just move out of the way and let me leave!”

But Laura would not move from the door. So Adam grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her into the kitchen far enough that he could leave.

Soon thoughts of fear began swirling in Laura’s mind: What’s wrong with me? What would I do with a new baby if he leaves me? Who am I without him? Bewildered with fear and consumed with pain, Laura put Madeline in the car and drove around looking for Adam and drawing on her faith as she sang to her daughter, “He who began a good work in Daddy, He will be faithful to complete it.”

Little did Laura know just how much that song would come to mean in the next few years. For the story of Adam and Laura Brown is a story of redemption and healing and restoration. It’s an example of what God can do when two people give their marriage to Him.

Two strangers

Adam grew up in a religious home, but he had no desire to follow his family’s faith. His high school days were filled with parties, drunkenness, and rebellion. Laura grew up in a strong Christian home, but she wanted to branch out on her own and experiment with life.

After three years of dating during high school, Adam was ready to marry Laura. She said she wanted a Christian husband, so he says he “got saved” to appease her. “My thought was, ‘Give me my checklist. What do I have to do?’” Adam says.

Married life seemed good at the beginning; they both had well-paying jobs and were satisfied with their lifestyle. “Our goal in life was to get everything—the nicest cars, the best furniture, the best of everything,” Laura says. Soon they learned Laura was pregnant, so they started saving to buy a house and settle into their new life as parents …

… until Adam lost his job.

At first he was confident that he would quickly find a new job; he was young, and he had a lot of experience in his field. But after weeks of interviewing, nothing happened. “It started wearing on me,” Adam says. “I wondered what was wrong with me.”

In time, all the things Adam and Laura had enjoyed during their first year of marriage were gone. The bill collectors started calling, but there was no money to give. Adam was out of a job for a total of seven months, and during that time Laura was put on bed rest because of her pregnancy. For 21 weeks Adam and Laura were both unemployed.

“The first year of our marriage we did nothing but receive. That was what was important to us,” says Laura. “And the second year we had it all taken away from us.”

Their marriage relationship became strained. “We were two complete strangers on two separate couches in the same house,” Adam says. They became depressed, and Adam began blaming his condition on God. The only source of hope they had was the birth of their daughter Madeline.

Adam got a small job, but their financial pressures remained. Adam saw how much attention their new daughter was getting and thought, Why should Laura give me attention? I’m barely putting food on the table…What purpose am I serving?

The pressure was more than Adam could handle. He and Laura broke into an emotional argument, and that was the night that tipped the scales of their broken marriage. Adam threw Laura out of the way, took their truck, and ran off as Laura held their 4-week-old newborn in her arms, crying out to him.

“I remember hearing those words,” Laura says. “’I don’t love you; I don’t want you; I don’t want this baby.’ My spirit was crushed, and I was afraid.”

Adam returned after a week, but four months later he brought Madeline to Laura’s workplace and announced again that he was leaving. Reconciliation followed, but the same cycle occurred three more times within the next year. Finally, Laura agreed to take Adam back only if they would go to their pastor for counselling.

Nine months of counseling helped give Adam hope for their marriage, but he still had no relationship with Christ. For Laura, it was an awakening. “I realized I did not trust this man and I did not love him. I cried myself to sleep at night, but I continually reminded myself that I had made a vow before God, and there was no way I could break that vow,” Laura says. “There was no joy in our marriage—I felt stuck.”

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