I Was a Jealous Husband!
WITH THE HELP of two friends I was feverishly removing the seats from a newly purchased old school bus. I was angry, muttering under my breath. When my wife, Cathy, and our three sons arrived home, I shook my fist in Cathy’s face, again threatened to divorce her, and even threatened to kill her!
She showed no fear, but mumbled something like “Jehovah can resurrect me if you do, Bill.” My two friends stared at me in amazement, knowing that it was not really my nature to be violent, especially with my wife. Why was I so upset that I was going to sell our home and move my family in that school bus to a place far away? It was because . . .
Cathy and the boys were coming home from their meeting at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had been left behind at home. All our married life we had done everything together as a family. We never hired a baby-sitter, but always our goal was to please each other as husband and wife and to live as a happy united family, working and playing together with our sons, Roy 10, Jack 5, and Rick 4. But now we were divided! I was losing my little world to someone named “Jehovah.”
It was true I had been a regular churchgoer all my young life, with perfect attendance badges for some 13 years. But there were things that made me doubt whether there truly was a Creator, a God of love. When my best pal, my grandfather, died, I was told that God took him! To a six-year-old, this sounded like a very unloving God. Years later when my dear mother also died, the only explanation I was able to get was the same thing: God took her and left behind my alcoholic father.
Even as a teenager, I observed my young friends stealing items off the dime-store counters, paying for confession, and never missing Mass on Sundays. Also, I remember grown-ups boasting over “getting away” with immoral acts and yet considering themselves “Christians.” This spelled hypocrisy to me. I could live a good life without church. The church was not for me!
Cathy had grown up in a town in North Carolina; her church meetings were her social as well as religious life. She had been quite active in church, usually teaching Sunday school. I didn’t mind her taking our boys to church, as they might learn a few good things. But she grew more and more dissatisfied with each church she would attend. She especially did not like the gossiping and backbiting that went on. What really upset her was that one Sunday Roy came home with his suit sleeve ripped out—there had been a brawl right in his classroom. I just chuckled when she said she would try a different church, because I knew they were just about “all the same.”
As the months went by, Cathy began a study of Mormonism and also began a Bible study with Jehovah’s Witnesses who called at our home. I did not mind this, as it was conducted while I was at work. However, when she started attending the meetings at the Kingdom Hall and talking a lot about “Jehovah,” jealousy began to grow within me! Gradually her newly found knowledge was having an effect on her decisions and it didn’t always harmonize with my opinions.
For example, Cathy announced that she no longer wished to visit my friend. When asked why, she said the boys were picking up bad words from his children. Now she was getting picky about who our friends were. I showed her my fist; and my anger rose. Continuously, it seemed to me, she kept trying to tell me things like “there’s no Trinity in the Bible,” and that she had learned to love and worship “Jehovah.” I was beginning to worry about her mental condition. So, something must be done! Put the house up for sale—move away. That’s it! And that I did, to get away from Jehovah’s Witnesses!
We moved to Melrose, Massachusetts, 600 miles (960 km) away, in that school bus. But nothing was solved. My wife became very depressed, even physically ill, because she could not locate a Kingdom Hall there. I could not stand to see her this way, so I started looking for a Kingdom Hall for her myself. It was located and she became happy again—but again the jealousy was building up in me. To counteract this, I threw myself into my job and spent night and day at work.
During all of this, she and our sons were gaining more knowledge from attending meetings and studying the Bible. Now I learned she was going from house to house in our neighborhood with the “truth,” as she called it. I quickly put a stop to that and told her that if she was going to do this it would have to be in another place, another city. A lady friend of hers, Mrs. Lappin, took her to a nearby city to make such calls, and she became a very close companion to my wife in going to homes. She even tried to talk to me on some occasions, but I was having none of that—when Mrs. Lappin came in the front door I went out the back! Now I had someone else to add to my jealousy—another Witness.
What could I do now? A job offer in New London, Connecticut. “This is the answer,” I thought. Again it was not the solution at all. My new job took most of my time, years were passing and my boys were growing up without me.
One Sunday I shocked my wife when I went right into the Kingdom Hall with her to see what was really going on. I can still see the look of surprise on Cathy’s face!
But the surprise was mine, too, for what I saw and heard was so different from the rituals I remembered from church. I heard a Bible talk describing a land with grapes so large that one cluster had to be carried on a pole between two men. It sounded like a dream, but, sure enough, it was right there in the Bible at Numbers 13:23, which described the promised land for God’s people. A rather stirring discussion followed, orderly and informative.
No wonder my wife and sons could explain the Bible so well. Feeling that I could never catch up with them in knowledge, I wouldn’t get involved. But it always made me angry to get into a discussion and realize how little I knew about the Bible. Why, even Roy, now in his teens, could answer most Bible questions. I really felt inferior and unhappy. My wife would bear the brunt of these feelings and moods.
I had so many hang-ups—I was jealous of her love for Jehovah, jealous of her knowledge and zeal for telling others what she had learned, jealous of Roy’s abilities to do the same, jealous because she had time to enjoy the boys and I was always at work, jealous of the respect and honor the boys always showed her.
I grew up cursing and drinking beer (though I was not a drunkard), but my conscience was hurting me because I was still doing some of these things—even more so. My nerves were constantly on edge and my weight went down, with no relief in sight. One day I decided we would move back to North Carolina, where life’s pace might slow down, and I hoped we could once again get together as a family.
Back in North Carolina, about two or three months later, I was asked, “How about a Bible study? Don’t you want to know why your family feels the way they do? It may help you to understand them better. Also, you’ll gain knowledge yourself.” “Well,” I thought, “I’ll find some errors and prove them wrong. In that way I’ll be able to regain my self-respect and get my family back.”
I didn’t allow Charles (my teacher) to come to our home for the Bible study but I went to his home one evening each week. It really burned me up at first to get ready, because I truly didn’t want to go. I angrily threw things around each week, again giving Cathy a bad time.
But, as the weeks went by, things changed. I gradually realized that I could not find one teaching out of harmony with the Bible even though I did not accept it all at first. As time went on I saw that everything I was learning was backed up by the Bible. When a friend asked me a Bible question one day, to my own amazement I was able to answer it and other questions he had. Yes, I, too, was enjoying the good results of my Bible study.
I felt that now all our problems would be over. But not so! This would have been too easy. I was still working on my self-control and I was still smoking (three packs of cigarettes a day, along with drinking some 15 cups of coffee, much beer, and taking sleeping pills). It was bothering my conscience, and I just couldn’t seem to overcome the habit. I would quit smoking every night and start again every morning. I would throw the pack away and go back and hunt it up “to relieve my nerves.” This made me jealous of my wife because she had long ago overcome her smoking habit.
I remember one occasion when I was trying to install a washer in our kitchen and hurt my back quite seriously. My wife came over to help and I was so angry that I bumped into her, pushed her out of my way, and ran out the door to buy some cigarettes. Oh, it was a battle! But through many heartfelt prayers and the help of my Christian friends and Jehovah’s spirit, I was finally able to say truthfully, “I have quit.” This helped me to overcome my hot temper also and to be thankful for a truly Christian family instead of being jealous of them.
I am so grateful that my little family loyally stood by their Bible principles through it all. And what has happened to that jealous husband of long ago? Well, if you happen to live around Louisville, Kentucky, you might have Bill and Cathy visit your congregation, for that is now (at this writing) my joyful privilege, like Paul in the days of the early Christians. We visit 20 congregations where I serve as a traveling minister to assist and encourage, but it also works out as an interchange of encouragement for us.
For other jealous husbands who may feel as I did, we hope their pride will not stand in the way of their family relationship. Instead, we hope they take advantage of the time while the children are young to learn and apply Bible principles in life. Many such husbands have already done this, so that their wives have been able to experience the joy of seeing the result of applying Peter’s inspired words in 1 Peter 3:1, 2: “You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that . . . they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.”
May your blessings be grander than mine and may you experience joy to the full as a result of overcoming the pitfalls of a jealous person—husband or wife.—Contributed.
[Blurb on page 13]
When a man tells his wife to quit studying with the Witnesses, it may be that he has heard something about them that doesn’t sound good. But is what he was told true?
[Blurb on page 14]
One of the best ways to find out what your mate is learning is to study the Bible with the Witnesses yourself. It won’t cost you anything. You don’t have to continue if you don’t want to. But you will know the facts firsthand.
[Blurb on page 15]
A visit to the Kingdom Hall at meeting time is a good way to find out for yourself what goes on there.