June 2nd 2017 will make five years of marriage for myself and my husband and to be brutally honest it has not been the best five years of our lives. Whew! Let me explain. The first year was pretty good because we were so caught up in merging our lives together that we really didn't have time to bicker and quarrel. What also contributed to this short term peace was my husbands inability to stay angry for long periods of time. It's a blessing and a curse that I may chat about later on. So year one was filled with moving in together, planning out our lives and discovering all the little quirks you never notice about your spouse when your dating. There are just some things you will NEVER know about someone until you live with them no matter how long you've been friends or dating. Trust me on this.
It wasn't until year two where things started to turn downhill. The little quirks turned into monsters and the bad habits began to slowly break our marriage down like a cancer. We were not prepared to deal with the "what if's".
- What if I am a planner and like to know what is happening before it happens and he just takes life as it comes?
- What if we do not agree on how to manage money, even though we may have discussed it prior to marriage?
- What if we do not really agree on how to raise children. Or what if one of us changes our mind about wanting to have any at all?
- What if one of us looses a job or career plans fall through the cracks? What do we do then?
- What if we cannot satisfy each other sexually? How do we rectify this?
- What if one of us is unfaithful? Do we forgive and try to work it out or separate?
- What if he/she turns out to be someone completely different from when we were dating. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde you say?
We did not necessarily have all of the above issues, but we had most and quite a few more. Let's just say that after the wedding day, when all the happiness and hype was over, things got real and we were not prepared for how real it was going to get.
Needless to say, by our second year of marriage we were ready to call it quits. What stopped us? Well, for me it was the horrible feeling of breaking a promise. Deep down I knew the pain of someone promising something to me and never coming through on that promise. I had experienced this time and again with my father in the past and vowed I would never do it someone else. I kept saying to myself, "I made a promise to God in front of all those people, I can't break a vow just because I feel like it". For him, it was the idea of giving up. He just couldn't give up.
That sounds great doesn't it? Two people who are willing to stay married despite the circumstances. But it's really not all that great unless you roll up your sleeves and begin to work on fixing what is wrong in the first place. Many Christians will stay in a broken marriage just for the sake of staying. They don't want to be ostracized or have that "scarlet letter" on their chest because of a divorce. I've heard of many people who are miserable, lonely and not even living with their spouses anymore; but still proud that they can say they are not divorced. Sacrificing inner peace and joy for the public eye is not the will of God. Let's be clear, I am not advocating divorce, I am advocating putting down pride and taking the necessary steps to fix what is broken. Do all you can, when you can. When it's all said and done, whatever the result, you should be able to say with all honesty and confidence that you did EVERYTHING you could do to make things work.
How do you make things work?
First, both of you have to want to make it work. You cannot have one person doing all the work while the other sits around pointing an accusatory finger or doing nothing at all. You may say that I sound naïve and inexperienced but I say that's your pride talking. Pride will tell you that it's the other persons fault alone. Pride will tell you that there are plenty of fish in the sea, just move on because he is not worth your time. Pride will even tell you to sabotage the relationship so you can look like a victim in the public eye and divorce him. Pride is a deceitful spirit and a marriage destroyer. Don't allow it anywhere near your home and if it gets in somehow, you need to acknowledge and renounce it in order to start the healing process.
This is where love comes in. There is no room for pride, bitterness and the blame game when true love is infused in a marriage.
Love births honesty, so when you love yourself you are honest about your own faults; this is the only way you can become a better person to yourself and your spouse. So because I love myself, when things were going down hill, I decided to take my eyes off of my husbands faults and began to look inward. I needed to take some blame in the situation and the day I realized that I could not change him or he may not be able to change himself, is the day I was set free. I realized that only the love of God can really change someone's heart and it wasn't my responsibility to change my husbands heart. God created him so only God can change him. This is why it is important that both man and wife have a relationship with God. If neither has a relationship, then no one is open to hearing from God and as a result no one will change.
Our marriage is still a work in progress, as it should be. It is getting better as we move forward and here are the first steps I took to get on the road to restoration. Let me point out that these were intentional decisions. I had to shake myself and say "Stacey, you cannot live like this anymore, you must DO SOMETHING".
- I decided to let go of my pride and unwillingness to help my husband be a better man. I had this thing where I expected him to know everything and if he didn't then it was his responsibility to figure it out. I had to get over myself and realize that it was actually my responsibility to fill in the gaps. If he didn't know, then I should help him to figure things out and vice versa.
- I decided that I did not want to continue in a broken marriage and took the steps to help my husband realize that our situation was urgent. My husband is a very laid back type of guy. He will find contentment in any situation even if it's not healthy. He will find a comfortable spot in the uncomfortable and chill out until something jolts him out of place. I decided to shake things up with some serious prayer so we joined a small group prayer meeting. That prayer meeting helped both of us realize that we were not in this marriage alone and it was God's will that we should stay together and live a successful life, TOGETHER!
- I decided to stop talking so much and listen to what my husband is saying to me. Our communication has always been in the pits and part of it was my fault. If what my husband said didn't make sense to me, I would brush him off and do my own thing. This attitude caused him to let me do whatever I wanted even if he thought it was wrong in order to keep the "peace".
- I decided to truly submit in my role as a wife and be obedient. This is not to say that I am allowing myself to be abused or stepped on. That is a misconception of submission. A part of submitting is knowing when to speak up and when to be quiet and take it to God. If your husband is a good man and submissive to the Lord he will love and respect you. Submitting to his leadership will not be a problem because he will always look out for your best interest and things will always work out the way they are supposed to. I guarantee it.
In my brief experience I've come to learn that their is a certain art and skill to being a good wife. If you learn the skill of the position you will find that your struggles to get things done are less frequent and you are more at peace. You will have to garner these skills on your own based on the type of man you have. It is also a good idea to link up with a trustworthy, wiser, more experienced married woman in your life to glean advice. Please note that I said MARRIED. Your girlfriends maybe great, but if they are single they do not have the experience to draw from in order to give you relevant advice; and experience is the best teacher. I'll chat a little more about this in part II.
As of today, my husband and I are on the right track. We are not just together because of how it looks. We actually want to be together. We want to fight for our marriage because we truly love each other and true love never fails.
Until next time,
Live in gratitude. Live in love.