We have just celebrated 21 years of married bliss... who are we kidding? We were married at 18 years of age in a registry office in 1973, with a child on the way. Not really the start we intended, but that's the way it happened. Young and naive, we thought we would live happily ever after, only to find those youthful dreams begin to crumble in such a short time.
STEVE: I have always been involved in activities (but not around home thank you) – sports, theatre, etc. I needed “my space.”
GAYNOR: I was not a very outgoing person. With number two child on the way I was often left in the background at home with our first little one, not knowing where Steve was or what he was doing. My love was not enough to fulfil his needs, but he wasn't fulfilling my needs either. This lifestyle went on for twelve years – our marriage hanging by a thread.
When the boys went to school, I would go and help Steve in the toy store where he worked. This eventually became our own business and gave us a combined interest, but something was till missing in Steve's life. Then a friend gave him a tape by a man called Barry Smith and this had a profound effect on his life.
STEVE: When my friend gave me that tape I though it was an Elvis Presley recording. I was a fan of his music, but when I heard the introduction with “Praise the Lord,” I quickly turned it off. Later, curiosity got the better of me and I went back and listened to what this Barry Smith had to say. To my surprise, I was challenged by what he said about God and the end times and started searching for more information. This led me to a Men's Supper meeting where I heard more about God and from there I was invited to go to church. Now people saw me in church sometimes twice on Sunday! Gay thought I was into another craze!
GAYNOR: I noticed a change in Steve and was quite happy that he had found something he enjoyed, but I somehow couldn't go along with what he was doing. I would take him to church and pick him up after it finished. I thought all church people were “wacky”, yet I saw people who looked happy and full of joy – something I wasn't!
STEVE: I couldn't wait to tell Gay everything that went on in the service, only to have a pin stuck in my over-filled balloon with her lack of interest. I found that hard and it deflated me. Gay could see I was a Sunday Christian only. I didn't mix with church people through the week. As a result, I now lived a roller coaster ride with my emotions, became more involved with my old friends in the theatre, which led to an affair.
GAYNOR: I was devastated, as this wasn't the first time! I didn't know where to turn. Then I remembered a pastor who often came into our shop to see Steve. The man was always happy and relaxed, and seemed to have his life together. To me he seemed to glow like an angel. He and his wife lovingly cared for me and counselled me. They explained to me the need for Jesus in my life. I knew a little bit about Him from my Sunday school days but I didn't know He could be real and alive in my life.
STEVE: It didn't concern me that Gay was getting help from the church, but I was having nothing to do with it even though I received a strong rebuke about my behaviour from the pastor.
GAYNOR: Because Steve was not willing to receive any help from the church, I sought out a marriage guidance counsellor and Steve agreed to come along to these sessions. Unfortunately, the outcome wasn't what I expected. The counsellor told me there was not hope for our marriage!
STEVE: We were living apart at this time and the counsellor’s advice sounded pretty good to me. This was the way out of the charade we called our marriage. I even took our two sons away on holiday to explain to them what was going to happen.
GAYNOR: I had no intention of giving up. I wanted our marriage to survive. In my loneliness I started reading Steve's neglected Bible. The pastor and his wife who had told me of my need of Jesus very obviously had something special in their marriage. Maybe Jesus was the answer!
STEVE: On one of my visits to our sons, I found Gaynor reading my old Bible. She asked me why I had highlighted a verse dealing with adultery. Her question hit me like a ton of bricks. I suddenly felt I was going to have to answer to someone for my way of life.
GAYNOR: The more I read the Bible, the more Steve came around and the more we both searched for an answer.
STEVE: Finally, I began to realize what God, Gaynor, and our boys meant to me and how selfish I had become.
GAYNOR: A little later I arranged to meet one evening with a Christian couple, Mike and Julia Johns. Steve came too. At the conclusion of that evening, both of us gave our hearts to God and committed ourselves to live His way, instead of going our own way.
STEVE: It was time to begin again. We renewed our marriage vows before God and got baptized at the same time. Since then I can't tell you how much God has blessed us, individually and as a couple.
GAYNOR: Not only did He restore our marriage, He added to our family our precious daughter, Laura, after a 13 year gap!
G & S: We are eternally grateful that the Lord saved us from self-inflicted destruction and is making us the people we are today.
STEVE: And I'm sure the Lord has a special crown for faithful wives!
STEVEN AND GAYNOR IRVINE
Palmerston North, New Zealand