Lately, I have been saddened about all of the marriage problems around today. It seems like very few marriages is doing very well, and everyone is struggling with something. Some of the problems I’ve been privy to are extremely complex, and seem hopeless. Some of them are little things that could be worked on and fixed fairly simply.
My own marriage has had it’s share of struggles and hard times. Actually, that is an understatement… my husband and I have been through a lot of extremely complex and difficult things together- sometimes so much so that I wondered if we could make it through at all.
Yet, I have come to realize that one of the biggest problems that I had growing up, was believing in this Disney princess lie: That there is a person out there who is going to fulfill you in every way, and you’re going to live happily ever after. And that if your husband is not doing everything to make you happy, he wasn’t meant for you.
I never thought those things in such an outright way. I think it was more of a subconscious belief. But I know that all of the movies that I watched as a child, and all of the books I read, contributed to a mindset that was extremely destructive to my marriage, because it set my expectations in such a way that I was extremely dangerous.
When James failed me in this or that area, I would many times be hurt and depressed. There were some devastating blows that I had to figure out how to deal with, and I eventually came to realize that my life was centered around him, instead of being grounded in a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. I was seeking to find security in a person, who will ultimately fail me! I had made my husband my idol, since I expected HIM to fulfill me and make me whole, not Jesus (who will NEVER fail me).
I was hurt especially bad one day. My heart was broken and shattered into a million pieces through the hurt I was experiencing. I felt alone, and didn’t know what I was going to do. Then I read some articles from a blog called “Peaceful Wife” by April Cassidy, and it was as if a knife went into me, conviction from an article she had written that made me realize that I had been guilty of: I had been harboring self-righteousness, anger, bitterness, hurt, worry, anxiety, imagining evil intent on my husband’s part, UNFORGIVENESS, and a host of other things. I never before realized that I was doing anything wrong at all! I thought I was the ideal wife….but I was WRONG.
I was so ashamed, and I actually experienced a paradigm shift. I no longer saw my husband in the way I had been looking at him. I had before wrongly seen him as the sole contributor to our problems. I had been so hurt, so bitter, so depressed….and that had clouded my judgment. I all of a sudden saw my heart in all it’s ugliness, and I prayed for God to forgive me.
I wrote a letter to James tell him how sorry I was, listing all of the things that I was guilty of, and asking his forgiveness. His response was so overwhelmingly wonderful and forgiving!
After this, I noticed he seemed to find me more interesting, and started spending more time with me, and communicating with me. This was something I had tried to achieve before through manipulation (without realizing it as such), and never had been able to accomplish that way.
The best part was that I felt light and free! It was a huge burden off of my shoulders. I couldn’t believe how wonderful it felt to have just decided that my security is in Christ, and not in my husband, and deciding that I was going to treat him with love, no matter what the result.
Now, this wasn’t the end, of course… I still every so often find myself triggered by this or that, and those old feelings of anxiety, fear, bitterness, and unforgiveness rise again to the surface. Usually, admittedly, this happens around a certain time of the month, when my hormone levels are out of control (Yes, unfortunately, it’s true).
When those feelings of panic set back in, I was absolutely miserable. But while in it, it seems almost impossible to escape. But I have found the tools that will combat the problem. Without fail, I always can come back to that peace and joy that I felt before, when I confess those feelings, realize MY fault in the situation, and abandon those things by obedience. I have peace when I decide that I will act on the description of love in 1 Corinthians:
At first, it always feels like somehow giving up those feelings lets the other person off the hook, or will make you feel miserable…but the funny part is that once I give up and decide to do this, it ALWAYS results in joy. So I don’t understand why I ever fight it at all. It is so FREEING.
I believe the purpose of marriage is for our sanctification, if we are Christians. It is not about fulfillment (although, one wonderful aspect of marriage is that it can make you feel fulfilled and happy.) The point is to draw us closer to Christ, and to provide a picture of Christ and the church for the world to see. And if both the husband and wife are drawing closer to Christ, the marriage WILL be a fulfilling and exciting experience.
If you are a Christian who is experiencing marriage problems and are looking for encouragement and instruction, as I was, I would love to recommend some books that helped me tremendously. I may not agree with 100 percent of the content of each of the books, but there is a wealth of knowledge and good support to be found in these books!
2.) Love that Lasts
4.) The Love Dare
Do you have any suggestions or ideas that might be helpful to someone else going through a rough spot in their marriage? Have you had any experiences, good or bad, that you would like to share? Let me know your thoughts.