It's Wednesday, the day when I introduce a marriage topic, and then the rest of you either comment or write your own Wifey Wednesday post!
This will be my last post until after Christmas, too. I'm going to cocoon a little bit away from the computer with my family. But I may still check in to comment on some comments or something!
We've had some interesting discussions about marriage lately. It all started last week with the post "Doormats or Wives", which started a great comment thread, that's worth reading on its own.
In that thread, and the follow-up post on the Saturday, some of you talked about how your marriage had done a 180 degree turn. At one point your marriage looked pretty pathetic, but then something happened. Today I want to talk about that something.
Yesterday we also had some marriage talk in the comments about a local church. Some of you were (or are) in conflict with your husbands about where to attend church, and I know such decisions are really difficult. So for those who have already weathered the storm, what happened? What made the storm pass?
In some of your stories, it seemed simply to be a matter of maturity. Sometimes we're just young when we get married, and as we mature, marriage becomes stronger. In others, outside counseling helped us see each other's point of view. And in still others, it was just prayer.
Let me tell you a bit of my story. When we were first married, I had major trust issues. I had been rejected repeatedly as a child, and then my husband had also broken off our engagement before we reconciled and eventually married. So I was paranoid that he was going to leave me, and opening up was not easy for me. I had been so desperate to get him down the aisle and actually commit that I hadn't given much thought to what came afterwards. I guess I thought marriage would be easy.
Because I had trust issues, though, I also had sex issues. I won't go into all the details, but needless to say that I could not figure out what all the fuss was about. My husband, who was in his early twenties, definitely wanted the fuss. I did not. So we had major conflict for the first part of our marriage.
The turning point came when I decided not to be hurt. I was focusing so much on my own issues--"he only wants me for one thing, he doesn't really care about me, he won't show me love"--that I didn't really look at the other side--"am I showing him love?". And once I made the emotional commitment to love him (and really throw myself into sex, too, but that was only a part of it), things started working much better. I really did love him. I started thinking about the things that I was grateful for about him. I stopped being so sensitive.
But it was difficult, and it took a few years to get to that point. When you're in the middle of a quite serious hurt, it's hard to see the other person's perspective. But when you decide to love regardless, amazing things can happen.
God was also doing a work in Keith's heart, and he came to basically the same decision around the same time I did. Never ever discount what God can do in your spouse's heart. But that's the key, I think: God does it, not you.
For me, then, the key was a shift in my own attitude, and a submission to God, which also led to the same thing in my husband. I can honestly say that we're so grateful for each other and we're ridiculously lovey-dovey all the time now. But it wasn't always like that.
I believe that it is a spiritual principle that God tends to start working when we are in submission to Him. Even if you are not the principle problem in your marriage (ie. your husband is doing something wrong/sinful/selfish), the more you hold on to the hurt, the less God works. I was reading in my devotions today about how God "pleads the case of the orphan". God likes pleading the case of the person who is wronged. He does stand up for the wronged person.
But He tends to do it once we have stopped pleading our case. When we hand our case over to God, He works. When we try to fix it, He can't. And I find that when I have handed things over to God, then He has started working in the other person's heart (I think my husband would tell a similar story. It was when He surrendered that God worked on me, too, because it really was quite simultaneous).
That doesn't mean that we don't confront, or use consequences, as we talked about over the weekend in the Doormats or Wives post. I'm not saying that we need to hold up the white flag to let God work. I'm saying we need to hand our emotional needs over to God; our need to be right; our need to have our husbands admit they were wrong; our need to have them love us completely and utterly. These are all needs, but it is to God that we must turn, not our husbands. When we are expecting these things from our husbands, then God can't work in the same way because we've set up a very negative dynamic, both emotionally and spiritually. When we turn to God, things change.
So let me know your story. What flipped the switch in your marriage? Leave it in the comments, or better still, write your own Wifey Wednesday post, and then come and link it back here!
My book, To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: When You Feel More Like a Maid Than a Wife and Mother, has several chapters on how to change the dynamic in your marriage. If you're stuck, and want to move ahead, it makes a great Christmas gift to yourself!
Labels: change, marriage, To Love Honor and Vacuum, wifey wednesdays