I never wanted to get married. Nope. Not me. I was going to be a darn good defense attorney, have children via artificial insemination or adoption and consider a husband after the age of 35 as part of the ultimate ‘Mama-I-made-it’ package. A husband, I thought, was a nice accessory. A casual accessory; a nice-to-have addition but not completely necessary.
My parents, united by lust, divided by life, never married. Eventually both went on to find love, liberty and the pursuit of someone radically unlike but ironically similar to the last. I knew tons of married women, I just didn’t know any happily married women.
When I met my husband, I was determined to have a Cliff and Claire kind of relationship. The kind that wasn’t marked by failed expectations, broken children and needing to run off to a relative’s house in the middle of the night.
Good marriages, I thought, came naturally. Let’s all take a moment of silence in memory of my naivety.
No one prepared me to become a wife. No one prepped me for the reality of what I’d face in my own marriage. Not Mom & Dad. Not Cliff and Claire. Not life, college, or society. I thought if you’re reading this it’s because you’re looking for some practical advice. It took me five years of marriage and some counseling to get to these three truths, so here you go.
Your husband was not created to fulfill your every need.
Yeah, I said it. God purposefully did not mold my husband with the intent of granting him the ability to fulfill every single need or desire I have. In fact, God didn’t mold me with the ability to fulfill every single need or desire I have; or every single need my husband has. Why? If people were designed as such, why then would we need a Savior? If a wife could meet every need, why then would a man need to pursue God? While we do desire to please each other, we cannot allow idolization of each other to drive our marriage. Our desire to satisfy each other, cannot supersede our desire to please God. In other words, a man cannot become so preoccupied with making you happy, that it’s at the expense of your holiness.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that is should be holy and without blemish. [Ephesians 5:25-27]
The primary purpose of my relationship with my husband is to make us both more like Christ; to make us holy.
You are not your husbands Holy Spirit.
Early in our marriage, I did everything I thought I was supposed to do as a wife. I could flip a ten-dollar bill into gourmet meals for four, cleaned, contributed to the household bills, managed the money, clipped his toenails if he asked me to, popped his pimples, and made sure I wasn’t ugly when he rolled over in the morning. In exchange for all that, I only expected this: I wanted him to do what I thought he should do, or rather, what I would do in a given situation. What I learned is no matter how many restaurant quality meals I dished out, or carefully selected negligées I greeted him with in the evening – reciprocity of this kind is not a great bargaining tool in marriage. In fact, it’s perilous. My husband doesn’t think like me & your husband doesn’t think like you. He makes decisions and assesses situations based upon his own experiences. He doesn’t do what you would do in a situation because he is not you. His choices won’t always run parallel to your train of thought. . In my past experiences, at times when I pushed my husband to do things I felt like he should; he did exactly the opposite. As much as we would like, our voice does not constantly resonate as his internal decision-making barometer. If your husband is a believer, your husband has the Holy Spirit that acts as a moral compass and influences his decisions as well as the way he lives his life.
Let forgiveness be your mantra.
Marriages don’t thrive by holding onto yesterday’s transgressions. I know way too many marriages, my own included, that at one time or another have been polarized by pain. You cannot reside there. You cannot fester in resentment and unforgiveness. Forgiveness is an action word, it requires you to ‘do’ something. Move forward, always.