Updated: Feb 16, 2019
Your wedding day finally arrives. You are excited to spend the rest of your life with the person you love. You and your fiance made a decision while dating that you would wait to have sex until marriage. You held firm to that commitment and believed that person was worth the wait. Your wedding ceremony is perfect, and afterward, you and your spouse retreat to the hotel to begin your honeymoon. You are ready to consummate your marriage with your spouse by having sex for the very first time, but your spouse declines by telling you they are tired and don’t want to have sex that night. You go to sleep confused and frustrated by what just happened, but remember you have an entire lifetime ahead of you to be intimate with your spouse. The honeymoon comes and goes, and for the whole trip your spouse refuses to have sex with you. That probably seems like a bad dream for you, but for Tony Lawlor, that was a reality.
Lawlor, who was 27 when he got married, had been walking with God since his sophomore year of college. When turning his life over to God, he made a promise to himself that he would be nothing like his parents. His dad walked out on him and his mother when Lawlor was 3 years old, and his mother struggled with a drug addiction for his entire childhood. These problems at home eventually placed Lawlor right in foster care, where he leveraged the system to secure a DCFS scholarship to the University of Illinois. He was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and when he finished school, he had every intention to leave his past behind him. He found a good job, he had his own place, and life was good. All he needed was a wife. He met a beautiful woman while he was at work one day, who sparked his interest. They started dating, but since they were living in two separate states at the time, they ended the relationship after 6 months.
He eventually moved to Atlanta, where they reconnected and started dating again. While dating, they made a commitment to remain abstinent, with the understanding that they would wait until they were married to have sex. Lawlor wanted to be the husband that his father never was, and felt like it was time for him to get married. He proposed to her after dating for 6 months, and she said yes. He was excited that he was finally getting married, but there was something deep down inside that told him the relationship wasn’t right. He discounted that feeling as pre-wedding jitters, and after 2 months of marriage counseling, they got married in September 2005. On his wedding night, Lawlor was looking forward to making love to his wife, but she told him she wasn’t in the mood and went to sleep. The honeymoon came and went, and his wife still refused to have sex with him. After engaging in several heated conversations with his wife about the situation, she still continued to shut down any possibility of them being intimate. As a final attempt to salvage the relationship, Lawlor got her parents involved. He told them that he would divorce their daughter if she continued to refuse to have sex with him. Her parents could do nothing to change their daughter's mind, and three months later Lawlor filed for divorce.
Lawlor filed for divorce on the grounds that his wife refused to consummate the marriage. While in court, his wife proceeded to lie to the judge by saying they had an amazing sex life, and she wanted to remain married. The judge believed her and ordered Lawlor to pay for her healthcare, housing, in addition to alimony. Over 40% of his income was now designated to go towards his spouse, and he was barely able to make ends meet. Lawlor was forced to work three jobs around the clock to keep up with his bills and her expenses. His life had quickly turned upside down, and he was miserable. He started to question all of his Christian values, and what he thought was the right thing to do, no longer seemed to be true. After a year and a half of fighting in court, the divorce was finalized in February of 2007.
At the end of the divorce, Lawlor reached out to her to apologize for any part he played in hurting her while they were together. She responded by saying “I don’t forgive you.” Stunned and still clueless as to why she shut off all levels of intimacy toward him, Lawlor left the relationship hurt, but had no choice but to move on. Two years later, she sent Lawlor an email out of the blue that said, “I forgive you.” After more time had passed, he gained some insight as to why his ex-wife refused to be intimate. She revealed to him that there were some undealt with issues from her past that affected her ability to be intimate. Although her sharing this didn’t change the situation, it gave Lawlor some level of peace about what happened. Lawlor was able to walk away from this marriage with a number of valuable lessons. He no longer jumps into relationships, because he values being friends with someone prior to making a commitment. “A lot of people show their representative when dating. That’s the best of them. They can only hold that poker face for so long. It doesn’t mean that they should be perfect, but you need to see what is wrong with them,” said Lawlor. Lawlor believes that learning as much as you can about a person upfront will save them a lot of unwelcome surprises down the line.
Lawlor is also in a different place mentally, where he knows what he wants in life and is clear on where he is going. When considering a potential partner, Lawlor says he must be able to clearly see that the person he is with is willing to go on the journey with him, and support him as he works towards actualizing his purpose. With this belief, he is content with being single until God reveals to him the person he is meant to be with. Over the last several years, Lawlor has focused on furthering his education, establishing himself financially, and doing “work” on himself by dealing with issues from his past through prayer and counseling to avoid taking a bunch of baggage with him into his next relationship. If given the opportunity to share some words of wisdom with someone who is considering getting married, Lawlor stated “Do not get married for looks, material things or temporal things. What if those things change? You need to be convinced that you will stay with this person no matter what.”
He also encourages anyone who is planning to get married to attend premarital counseling so they can learn about themselves and their partner before the wedding date is set. Lawlor believes that premarital counseling will help to reveal some important things about a person and their partner, which can help them to determine if they really want to enter into the covenant of marriage with that individual for the rest of their life. Lawlor has seen too many people go through the pain of divorce, and he wants people to be able to avoid that heartache of marrying the wrong person if possible. He hopes that other people can learn from his story, and if they have gone through a divorce, they can find hope and healing through their relationship with God.
The challenges that Lawlor has gone through has only helped to make his faith stronger, and he is now faithfully serving the kingdom of God. Lawlor is a deacon at his church and an evangelist who is continuously seeking out ways to show people the love of Christ. He will be completing his Master's degree in Evangelism and Leadership this year at Wheaton College and has plans to spread the gospel through Tony Lawlor Ministries. There is no doubt that he will leave his mark on the world, and he plans to help thousands of other people along the way. For more information on his ministry, you can follow him on Tony Lawlor Ministries Facebook page.
Contact us today to share your testimony, or make a comment about Tony’s story below.