There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. It's easy to look at people around us and think they've got it all together - they hold hands, seem to be attentive, have people into their home...I could go on. But what happens behind closed doors, when the hand holding stops and the guests go home? The fact is, we just don't know. Though many couples look perfect there can be a storm brewing below the surface that could take the whole marriage down should the tides change.
When I wrote "Since When Are Men Stupid? (Confessions of a Not-So-Trophy Wife)" , I knew it would create discussion. What I didn't realize is that it would stir up serious pain. So far we're up to 16 comments with over 300 people having read the post to this point. So there are a few personal things I'd like to clarify and make some recommendations.
Know that the person writing to you is someone who has been there, done that. Though I am ashamed to admit it, there was a time I seriously contemplated divorce. The longer I contemplated it the worse my attitude became, and the more selfish I became. With my own hands I fed the beast of spite one minute, then ran to the corner to sharpen my weapons of hurt and insult the next. It's embarrassing to admit but it must be said: I was no husband's dream come true.
It took a craptastical amount of work to clean up the mess that we called our marriage. Admittedly, most of it was of my own doing, but we both fed the beast at times. We still struggle with those same habit patterns today, but there's one big difference: I know this is the marriage God wants for me, but it's up to me to be responsible for my attitude and actions.
If you have been walked on by a spouse and you read these words I'm sure they sting like pouring alcohol on a fresh wound. The compassion I carry in my heart for you is immense, and it comes from knowing what it's like to be the spouse that created havoc in her home. You may be wondering what happened to make me change the way I treated Dan. One word: conviction.
Dan could not do that for me.
The church could not do that for me.
Friends could not do that for me.
God would not let me go. I fought Him. I told Him to leave. I was always angry. But one day it was all too much and I couldn't take it anymore - being separated from God's will, that is.
Whatever your situation know that God is at work, even if you can't see it. Know it. Thank Him for it. You are not alone. God knows your pain better than you do. He knows your spouse better than you do. He knows what will make your marriage better.
In my limited ability to give advice I would suggest you seek out one or more of the following:
1) Find Biblically based Christian counseling. Even if your spouse refuses to go you can still go by yourself. You need someone to talk to who has seen the best and worst of marriage. Trust me, there is nothing you can tell a good Christian counselor that will shock him or her. Yes, it will be painful to recount your story but it's better to do it now instead of putting it off. Ask your counselor for strategies to unify you and your spouse. If your church does not offer a counseling program or if it's too close for comfort, try other congregations in your area.
2) Tell someone with a strong marriage about your struggle. Maybe there is an older couple in your church who has a strong marriage. Chances are there marriage is strong because they've gone through some trenches together. Again, it won't be easy to share your junk but it's better to do it now before things get worse.
3) Read Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, or even better get the DVDs. This guy is straight forward and speaks marriage in a way that both men and women love what he has to say. He is insanely practical. I recommend the DVDs because your spouse may check out on reading a book but might be more willing to watch a DVD. I can't say enough about how powerful this marriage training is - Dan and I loved it. We recommend it to everyone. Click here to link to amazon.com for a review. Also, two insanely fabulous books, "For Women Only" and "For Men Only", are the best little marriage books you've probably never read. Shockingly eye-opening. Click here to jaunt over to Amazon and check them out, too. If you can't afford them, try your church or local library. These are 3 books that you will devour. (And as a side note, don't buy these books for your spouse and say, "Here. You need this." Buy it for yourself. You work on you, let God be God to your spouse.) If you can recommend other books please leave a comment.
4) Pray. It cannot be overstated the power of prayer. A hard prayer to pray is, "God help me to understand my spouse before I ask you to help him/her understand me." HARD PRAYER. But these things don't come easy and they are worth fighting for so pray.
5) Study God's Word. Join a Bible study, an accountability group, or read alone. When you are growing in Christ God will change you, regardless of your spouse. Let God's Word permeate your being and see what happens.
For now this is the best advice I can give. Something else you may want to keep in mind is God's plan for your life and marriage. It is completely possible to overcome any circumstances in Christ. How will God use you and your spouse in the future to be real with other struggling couples? It's possible, because all things are possible in Christ. That's right - ALL THINGS.
Whether you're on a high note in your marriage or swimming up stream I think there are two question every one of us can answer:
The worst thing you can do in a marriage is..... -OR- The best thing I've learned about making marriage work is.....
OK, I'll go first. "The worst thing you can do to your marriage is seperate yourself from God." & "The best thing I've learned about making marriage work is to remind myself that my spouse is not my worst enemy. Satan is."
Now it's your turn. I'm anxious to read what you have to say!
p.s. It is essential that I point out that I am not addressing situations where physical abuse of any kind is involved. In such cases, don't be a hero. Get help now. (Special thanks to Andrea who reminded me of this point.) Here's an article from "Today's Christian Woman" that speaks to this issue.
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