Back to the story..
We went on like that for a few years. Dick consistently speaking bad of me to my husband, my husband up and down with good times and bad, times of managing well, and times of emotions and sleep all out of whack. We lost more friends. Just a few at this stage, but a few good ones. Seth and his wife continued to mentor us both. I began to come to some peace with God and work through a lot of the pain of my past and began to grow and relax in my relationship with God. I had a job I loved with old people besides my ministry. Life was often stable with occasional bad times. After two years attempting to make friends in a big church, we changed to a smaller one. It was a good church, and we settled in and made friends. We noticed that their theology was slightly more restrictive than ours - they weren't at all sure if the Holy Spirit had any role in the world today and were pretty sure that miracles only happened in the time of Acts for a reason then. We ignored that because we were quite used to functioning in community with believers that have varying beliefs than ours. We liked the church, liked the preaching, and had found a home for our hearts.
We had a few decent years. Life went on well. Ministry was going fairly well. Then we went back into our default mode of working too much, My husband brought work home; because his work involved so much virtual work, there was always someone up at any hour of the night that wanted to work with him, and he has a hard time saying no. Family life suffered. His travels took him at times for five to six weeks long trips. Dick encouraged longer and longer trips because it was more cost effective to do even more "while you are there". Seth warned that this was not good for the family, but Dick himself was gone from his family for extended periods and saw no problem with it at all. If I said something, he complained to my husband about his "weak" wife. The longer trips with the increased danger as the situation "over there" got more intense began to wear on my husband again and he began to be more and more short tempered. I asked once to speak alone to Dick when he was visiting. I was hoping to discuss this increase in exhaustion that my husband was showing and see if there could be some balance. Even things like a day or two off after a month long trip for some family time and allowing us to decompress. But Dick was too busy. Despite my repeated requests for some time to meet with him and several trips a year that he made to our office, it took him over a year and a half to give me ten minutes of his time. Then he agreed that my husband should not work so much, but did nothing to change his ways of constantly throwing more at him and needing him for about ten hours a day his first days home. Nothing changed.
Then an important event occurred in our lives that I still think is key. We were doing reasonably well in our marriage but just overworked. Then we took on a very key project for my husband's country. We ended up with this project because the person doing it before - their marriage almost ended. I remember thinking when we agreed to take it on that "ack, that will put us on the front lines of the enemy's attack", and I wasn't sure I wanted it. But it was critical, so we took it on. I remember that we called our pastor over for a cup of coffee that week and shared with him what we will be doing. We asked for prayer because doing this project would subject us to attacks of the evil one and asked for prayer, especially for our marriage and family life as we do this. Our pastor looked straight back at us and said something that I still remember with absolute clarity.
"That is the scariest thing I have ever heard; people blaming their problems on the devil."
I remember it because I was stunned. It felt like we had just been slapped. We were not coming to him with problems. Yes, he was aware that we had issues at times in our marriage, but we had been doing well for quite some time, and we were not going to him with problems, We were simply asking for prayer protection over our family as we ventured into a new field of ministry. We were asking because we had just seen our coworker who previously had this project have his marriage almost fall apart during his time with it. But that was his response... and we were stunned and speechless, feeling ashamed and scolded.
Needless to say, after that we did not go to him for little things. We did not go to him and say, "We've had a rough week, can you pray with us or talk with us." We felt already judged before anything happened. We really didn't have too many other people to go to either. Dick was still the same old Dick - running around too busy or too busy typing away at his computer not really aware of the people in his life to really pick up on issues and relationships. We hadn't seen or heard from our head office two hours away except for three times a year: the Christmas party, a summer weekend retreat, and the board meetings. We had Seth, still faithfully mentoring us from a distance, and we had our kid's school which was a community of caring people that we had friends in, but friends who were very removed from what we were doing that it would have been hard to explain what we were facing. They, however, did end up to be the most supportive group we had.