I Am Just Saying What You All Are Thinking……
Let me paint an all too familiar picture. You have been working all day, only to walk into the kitchen and find a sink full of dishes that you just emptied before you left. Then, you walk into the bedroom to find clothes on the floor that you had cleaned up that morning. Your mind starts flooding with thoughts of an inconsiderate, lazy, ungrateful, selfish and rude spouse.
You start adding to the list of things you are ready to tell your friends at the next lunch gathering at your favorite little sandwich shop. Your mom asks you how things are going at home and boy o’ boy, you start enlightening her about how he/she would be lost if you were not there to clean up their mess and fix their problems.
Have you ever felt like your spouse is not the same person that you married? You didn’t know that you were signing up for what you got? No one ever told you that they do this or constantly say that. I am ashamed to admit that I had these thoughts at times when I first was married (and even for a couple years after that).
It all started when we began living together after we got married. I had this idea that we would share the responsibilities; I would give a little and she would give a little. I began to compare who was doing more and, in my mind, I was the one doing EVERYTHING! (This was not the case but none the less, this is how I felt). I began to keep a record, in my mind, of the things I had done and the things she had not done.
This was my fuel when I needed to let out my anger on her after I came home, and things were not up to MY standards. After years go by, countless times of nagging and several sharp words spoken that caused her emotional scars, our marriage was worse than when it started. It seemed to me that all things I was saying about my wife, to my wife, that I thought other people were thinking but just didn’t want to say, was not doing anything to change her.
Well, news flash, I was the one that needed to change………and quickly! Through several circumstances and people sharing wisdom with me, I began to see that I was the one that really was damaging our marriage. My wife opened up to me and began to slowly share with me, after years of being patient or quiet, how I had damaged her with my words.
I wanted a better marriage and thought I was working towards that by “making my wife better,” and all the while I was tearing her down and destroying our marriage. I saw very quickly the angry and critical person I was and how I was not doing things out of LOVE for my wife, and eventually my children. In the years to come, my two children came along, and I was starting the same bad trends towards them that I had acted out towards my wife.
I thank the Lord that He showed me what kind of husband and father I truly was and the path that I was headed down. Over the past couple of years, I have learned what it truly means to love and to remember the commitment that I made to my wife and the altar over eight years ago.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives us a picture of what love is: “patient, kind, not jealous, not proud, not boastful, not rude, keeps no record of wrongs, is not irritable, does not rejoice about injustice, rejoices when the truth wins out, never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through all circumstances”! I realized as I looked at each of these definitions that most of these I was not following.
The very next chapter (14) in the first verse it states, “make love your highest goal.” My highest goal? I wasn’t even placing love on my to do list. Sure, I thought I was aiming high to love my wife, but my idea of love and what God says love is were not the same thing.
When you start to think of yourself as higher than your spouse or begin to compare, you have missed the mark of marriage. Marriage is that commitment that says I will be with you no matter if it is a good day or a bad day, you’re sick or I’m sick, we’re rich or dirt poor, he/she is faithful or unfaithful.
However, a lot of marriages fail because they look to their spouses to sustain or fulfill them and when that bad day comes, they’re sick, you’re poor and he/she has been unfaithful, they are left empty and dissatisfied with their marriage.
Two perspectives that changed my life and turned my marriage around were:
1) I am guilty of my own faults and weaknesses just as much as my spouse, and Christ still loved me enough to die for my salvation.
2) I should never enter a marriage with the mindset that my spouse will be able to satisfy me in a way that only Christ can.
Do you feel empty a lot? Do you feel like you give and give to your husband/wife and kids without much being given back? There is this often-false idea that I am going to get married so I can rely on this other person to fill this void or need that I have had up until this point, like a need to be loved by another person or a need to feel like an equal (frequently, our feelings can be misleading).
Marriage should be a commitment you make to a person you love and will choose to love despite whether the feelings are there or not. Maybe you have not experienced it yet, or maybe you have, but marriage is filled with ups and downs. If you are serious about the vows that you took at the altar, I want to encourage you to think on these words from Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart (where feelings flow from) is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” and Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
I found that one day I would think my wife was the greatest gift I have ever received and the next day I would think “does she even love me?”
I write these things to you with a grieving heart. I have seen too many marriages and families left torn apart because spouses leave when marriage isn’t the fairy tale ending Disney promised. The kids grow up in a single-parent or divided household. The parents incite the children against the other parent with debasing words.
Maybe it starts with a sink full of dishes or clothes on the floor, but then it turns into yelling at your spouse, bad mouthing them to friends and family behind their backs or in front of them, dividing the kids to favor one parent over the other and before you know it, you are separating yourself further and further from your spouse.
If you are thinking right now that you can’t stand your spouse, or your children, and you just need to distance yourself more and more, you could not be further from the truth. You need to chase after the hearts of your spouse and children with the same ferocity that you had hoped your spouse would have for you.
When was the last time that you asked your spouse what they would like to see change in you without ever mentioning what you think they need to change?
When was the last time you got a babysitter and went on a date with your spouse having not mentioned a word about yourself or the kids?
It is NEVER too late to change and seek after your spouse. Even if you are on the verge of, going through or have gone through a divorce. I have seen marriages restored after years of them being divorced. God always created marriage to be for a lifetime! A lot of the western culture has gotten so far away from that and have entered marriage after marriage with selfish and destructive intentions.
My hope and prayer are that you, yes YOU, are reading this with conviction in your heart and are ready to make a heart-change! I say this with having gone through my own valleys of marriage.
What You Can DO:
If you are finding yourself in a marriage that leaves you dissatisfied,
thinking thoughts and/or speaking words of abuse towards your spouse, distancing yourself more and more, then please consider some of these thoughts and applications to your life.
First, start communicating with your spouse in a way that seeks to build them up and evaluate your behavior.
Second, make 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 your highest goal in how to love your spouse.
Third, never, I repeat, never speak in a way to tear down or degrade your spouse either to their face or behind their back. Always seek to build your spouse up, even when you don’t feel love towards them. This is difficult. Apologize when you mess up.
Fourth, pray for your spouse in a way that asks the Lord to work in their lives for their benefit, not yours!
Finally, keep pursuing your spouse even when the feelings are not there because the heart/feelings are deceitful above all things and beyond cure! Pursue your spouse even if it feels like it’s in vain. Even if it feels like they don’t even notice or care. Even if you’re convinced they’ll never come around. PURSUE YOUR SPOUSE.
God bless you! I hope that this was helpful and encouraging. Let’s brainstorm some ways that we can pursue our spouses! Let me know in the comments below!