If I were to distill the learning I’ve done through this seemingly impossible marital trench what would I find? If I were to look at it as a purifying process, which I do, what would I most want to share with others.
#1 All of the things I go through in life are not meant to diminish me, but strengthen me. Just like my muscles rebuild stronger after tearing during vigorous exercise . . . . I can do the same in my emotional and spiritual development.
#2 Philippians 4:4-6 can be words that are alive and active in me if I want them to be. It starts with ‘reigning in’ my thinking processes. Here are the thought filters.
- Celebrate God – all the time.
- Know He is available to me all the time for everything.
- Stop gnawing away at my life and the lives of those around me by fretting.
- Believe that life-altering peace is possible when I pray to God with an expectant and thankful posture.
#3 How does my husband feel in my presence? What has daily life with me been like for him? This can be a very painful and long process. It took me several months and all the while I was being lashed with his overt rejection. Here are a few of the things I finally let myself ‘hear’. Some of these things I did in earlier years and had worked hard and long with God to overcome. Some have been marriage-long habits. Regardless, it felt unequivocally unfair and confusing for him to dredge up dirt, but during this crisis the whole of our lives together seemed to come to bear. I needed to go back over all the years and understand that for my husband it ALL mattered and was one BIG ball of wax. These are examples that represent a pattern. I’m not talking about rational, thoughtful responses here. I’m talking about passive aggressive or selfish or ‘how can you be so ignorant?’ type of responses. We know the difference. This is the painful part, but change is possible! The GONG’s? Well, The Gong Show obviously.
- “You bought 2% milk. We always drink 1%.” Is life really going to fall apart because he brought home the ‘wrong’ thing or did something the ‘wrong’ way? GONG!
- “We don’t need that.” I don’t want it or I don’t think it’s a necessary expenditure so I’m going to be a cosmic killjoy. GONG!
- “That’s not how it happened”. Reinterpreting or correcting his story. GONG!
- “I don’t think it will work for us to do that.” Boxing our life according to what I’m comfortable doing or being with people I’m comfortable with. GONG!
- “We’ll never get ahead unless you tell them what you’re worth.” Expressing more dissatisfaction than rightful respect for how hard he has worked since Day 1 of our marriage. GONG!
- “Why are you watching that?” Guilting him in his choice of how to unwind. GONG!
- “I don’t do cleavage.” Not loosening another button to reveal even a tiny spec of decolletage on this ‘Baptist body’.” GONG!
- “I’ve gotta go throw some laundry in.” Short circuiting a romantic interlude be that A romantic interlude (wink, wink) or simply a soft moment. GONG!
- “We can’t do that today. I don’t have enough time . . . . yadda, yadda, yadda.” Not realizing that even 2 hour vacations can be a complete reset button and are very, very important. If he’s asking, that means he wants to have that vacation with me. GONG!
- “Why did you say ____ last week (or last month or last year!!)?” Allowing myself to think that he is responsible for my emotional wellbeing. GONG!
Wow, she’s been a real treat to live with hasn’t she? Ugh.
My other blog posts have some excellent resources mentioned. They were all so helpful and integral to getting me to this point of feeling so whole and well ‘suited up’ for the next beautiful phase of life.
Maybe I should share something else here too. I felt incredibly shattered by the things my husband said or implied once he’d revealed his unhappiness in our marriage. He was tearing down things I felt were sacred. Personal work that I’d done with God over the years as I’d learned how to be a better wife, Mom, daughter, friend, etc. Was it all a sham? Had I deluded myself into thinking that there had been positive changes made in how I lived out daily challenges? I can’t get into analyzing all of that even though I frequently want to. My husband speaks pearls into my life now. Many, many pearls that float right into my heart. I will share one of the most recent and prized pearls with you. We’d had a large party at our home last weekend to celebrate a grand occasion. After all the guests had left we sat on the couch together sipping a bit of the leftover wine. He held me tight and thanked me for being such a well balanced wife and Mom in the raising of our incredible kids.
At times like that do I sometimes want to bring up what he said or did during the crisis? My memory is crisp. These crisp memories are in complete contrast to the man I knew before and the man I know now. So no, I’m not going there, and it’s getting easier and easier to exercise restraint and simply revel in the love. God’s in the business of restoration. It’s a long process. We are both hearing the birds sing again.