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We said our vows after only 6 weeks of dating. We eloped at a courthouse after meeting each other’s parents over spring break in Florida. I don’t know why we thought that was a smart idea at the time, and while there have been times I try to blame our struggles on that premature decision, I no longer regret that decision. My husband is my partner, and we’re in this together. Forever.
But on top of maintaining a relationship, there has been the added pressure of making it a good one. Sure, we haven’t gotten divorced, and that seems to be an accomplishment these days in America, but are we actually happy? Are we doing everything we can to ensure that this journey is an amazing one for both of us?
Well, I can’t speak for my husband. All I can say is that I married my best friend. He was there for me through the bad OkCupid dates. He listened to me whine about classes in school. He ordered me pizza when I came back early from Christmas break and was alone. He kept texting me even though I blatantly ignored all his attempts to form a connection with me. He watched 90210 with me on Netflix until my binge-watching was over even though he wanted to use his Xbox to play video games. He let me disrupt his normal routine so that he could spend time with me and get to know me.
Now, the gestures are different. But he still seems to put my needs above his on most days. He’s been up with the kids all day but when I come home from work, he asks me if I want to shower first. The weekend comes and he would like time to himself, but he offers me the opportunity to nap instead. I think at one point I cared about the fact that he wasn’t as romantic as before (with gifts and cute date plans) until I realized that romance takes on different definitions throughout a relationship. And for me, offering me sleep or food after having our second child was just about as romantic as it could get, because those are the things I wanted the most!
So, I’ve tried to be a better wife. I’ve tried to be more patient and complain less. I’ve tried to listen to him explain something without immediately cutting him off and showing him how he’s wrong. I’ve tried to buy gifts I think he would like. I’ve tried not paying as much attention to the things he doesn’t do in comparison to all the wonderful things he actually does. I’ve tried to tell him how much I love him without following it up with an insult or a mood swing. But honestly, it’s difficult. Marriage is challenging, and I often leave my husband at the bottom of the totem pole in favor of trying to be a better mother or happier person.
If I practice patience with the kids, I’ll be more patient with my husband and vice versa. Similarly, when I try to make my kids happy, I think about what they want and their interests, and I can apply the same logic when figuring out what to do to make my husband happy. Closeness with my children should develop into closeness with my husband as long as I care enough to be intentional about it, but it still doesn’t. I am exhausted all the time and chasing down personal goals in order to make myself a better person, but I still fail.
Then what’s the missing piece? God.
The Bible talks a lot about a Proverbs 31 woman and all the traits God wants me to have. But it also discusses the ways in which God can give us an abundance of blessings if we only ask for them and unlock them through prayer and faith. My faith bar has been low until recently when I joined an Armor of God Bible study by Priscilla Shirer (truly fantastic). I have come to see that our relationship with others is easy to taint when Satan has the upper hand, because we are not shielding ourselves with truth, peace, and the other traits God deems so important. My mistake was in trusting TV and movies to show me what romance means and looking for ways to strengthen my marriage in everywhere but the Bible.
Therefore, I pray more for my marriage. Priscilla says that those who stop wanting to change or stop wanting to fix their marriage are the ones most vulnerable to the temptations of deceit, lust, and selfishness. And two years ago, that’s exactly where I was, because I stopped wanting to improve my marriage. I was content enough to not be divorced that I went about my life as if my husband was a roommate and not someone whose needs matter, whose life next to mine was a treasure to be protected. But I’m not in that place anymore, and with God’s help–because it’s not easy– I plan to never camp out in that dark place again. An environment where Satan tries endlessly to poison my thoughts and fog my heart.
These days I try harder to give my husband the quality time that I know I appreciate when I can have it. I look up recipes in the hopes of surprising him, and even though I may never get to try them, he appreciates that I value how great of a cook he is to our family. I pray and apologize. I hold back if my words aren’t kind (sometimes, still working on this!) But my husband forgives me. And times when I’m angry with the kids, he is there to encourage me to be better and to not stress the little things of the day. I love him so much for not only being my partner but also my best friend. Additionally, I stay in prayer constantly, talking with God and navigating through both the good and the bad in my conversations with him (and my husband), because God has all the power. He sees my struggles and He blesses me, and the more thoughtful I am about remembering that only He’s perfect, the better I become at doing my job as a wife and mother.
If you’re struggling to be perfect, stop. Ask God what you need and what you want and place your marriage in the delicate hands of your Father, who only wants you to be happy and calm. Any feeling other than that is solely the devil trying to take down what you value the most in any way he can by wrecking your family and making you miserable. Don’t let him. Stay strong 🙂