I started writing this post about a month ago… but every time I get ready to post it, something happens and I put it off or decide I don’t want to share. I originally wrote this post for my eyes only. No one likes to admit flaws and most couples don’t just invite people into the struggles of their marriage… but I’ve been wrestling with this for a while, and I think it’s time to share.
You see, it all started about two months ago. My husband wrecked his car. It was a nice car, and a little less than $2,000 away from being paid off. I on the other hand, have been driving this 20 year old hunk-of-junk since before we got married. The plan was to pay his car off, and then get me a car so we wouldn’t have more than one car payment. Sensible enough, right? Yeah, but then the accident happened which left my husband without a car, and us right back to square one. It’s not like he wrecked the car on purpose, and he was probably just as disappointed as I was if not more so… It was a sucky situation all around.
So we get the insurance money from the car that was totaled, and we start car shopping. We find an amazing deal on a very slightly used 2015 Honda Accord, and go to the bank to finance it. My credit score was just a little higher than my husband’s, so I was the primary on the loan to get a better interest rate. Long story short, we got approved for an awesome loan. Low interest rate, easy approval, good loan, great car… most would be grateful for this… but not me. My thought process went a little something like this, “I’m the reason we got the low interest rate… It’s my credit score. I’ve worked hard for that, and I’ve worked hard for a job where I can finally afford to pay for a car! If anyone deserves a new car it’s me! The wreck was Tyler’s fault anyway!” Jealousy crept in!
Somehow, over the weeks that followed, it went from thinking I deserved the car to blaming my husband for every unwanted circumstance in my life! “If I lived on my own, I would have less debt and could get myself a car!” So forth and so on. Everything was suddenly my husband’s fault. He was the source. He was the reason I couldn’t have what I wanted. Once I let those thoughts creep in it’s like all the negativity was magnified. Every single negative character trait my husband has was suddenly on display. All the good was hidden behind a shroud of darkness, self-pity, and pessimism. My husband would never be positive in my eyes as long as these unfair circumstances surrounded us… circumstances that were in reality, well beyond his control.
I was putting the stress of life on the shoulders of my husband expecting him to make everything better, no questions asked. I was throwing a burden on him that he wasn’t meant to carry.
When you look to your spouse to fix circumstances only God can mend…or gratify expectations only God can meet, he or she will disappoint you every time. My husband wasn’t the source of the problem, I was. I had let sin and selfishness take over.
I think the enemy was trying to attack my marriage. The problem is that the “enemy” has many faces, and they aren’t always a red faced man with horns and a pitch fork. If you would like to see one of those faces, a lot of times you can just take a look into a mirror. Many of the enemies we face are our own agendas and selfishness. Too often we have a “devil made me do it” mindset when it comes to issues that we just need to take responsibility for.
The devil doesn’t need to attack your marriage if you aren’t even putting forth an effort to work on it.
A friend of ours told us about a year ago, “God wants to use your marriage to reach a unique group of people that others won’t have the opportunity to reach.” The only way that can happen is to be open, honest, and transparent with ourselves and each other…and even with those around us. To not sugar-coat and Photoshop our marriage so that it looks better from the outside looking in.
Please understand our marriage is not any more special than anyone else’s. Marriage is a picture of God’s love for the church. The husband is supposed to love and sacrifice for his wife, just like God gave himself for mankind. The wife is supposed to be a picture of Christians that are so filled with love for God that they choose to serve and follow Him through everything! (Ephesians 5:21-32). Because marriage is such a powerful picture, God has a plan for every single one. Maybe if we look at the bigger picture, how our marriage can help others, help our spouse, and advance His kingdom, less marriages would fail. (I am not saying divorce is not a valid way out of an abusive situation, infidelity, or that you’re to blame if your marriage failed. I don’t know your situation, but I know sometimes a failed marriage is the decision of one person, not two. And no matter what, God is a God of restoration and new beginnings!)
Alright, back to the story… Finally, after days of frustration, anger, and a weekend away at a conference, I had gotten fed up. I was tired from the recent trip, and I was tired of all the anger and resentment building up inside of me! I walked outside, and as I paced the driveway, I just began to talk to God. It went something like this:
“This is so freaking stupid! Why should I have to pay for his mistakes!?”
“Why did I pay for yours?”
“Yeah, God, but it’s like he’s the one who messed up and he still gets all the reward?”
“Why do I bless you even though you mess up?
“But it’s not fair!”
“Was it fair that I had to die for you?”
“So I’m just supposed to let him get what he doesn’t deserve?”
“Why did I take your place instead of letting you get what you deserve?”
Every question I asked, God answered with LOVE.
In that moment, he took me back to the start. The source of the anger and the emotions, and he took me through my thought processes… How I had somehow let something as simple as a car turn into resentment towards my husband. (Sure, to some reading this, a car may seem like a big deal. But if it risks ruining your marriage, it is rather small and insignificant.)
I heard pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. speak on relationships at the conference I had attended. He said, “Everything that defines love is a decision.”
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”-1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I mean think about it! How many times have you actually felt patient? I don’t know about you, but I never think, “Oh, right now seems like an excellent time to wait 20 minutes in the drive-thru.” No, but I do it anyway because that burger is worth it! Love is the same way. It is not an emotion! That mushy feeling, the butterflies in your stomach, the tingly feeling in your hands, the excitement… it all fades. But when you focus on what love really is… a decision, it allows you to weave through and grasp hold of the emotions.
In that moment, crouched down in my driveway, head buried in my knees, tears streaming down my face… I realized that I didn’t love my husband. I was being self-seeking, envious, unkind, angry, keeping a record of wrongs. I was doing everything complete opposite of what I vowed in front of God, family, and friends to do. My husband still may have annoying traits (we all do!), but I can’t control him. He makes his own choices. I can only be responsible for myself! And I CHOOSE to LOVE him. Because loving him, and really loving him is worth any sacrifice I could ever make. He’s a man that loves and cares for me sacrificially (even when I’m not so easy to love),and he is by far the best decision I have ever made! (next to loving Jesus, of course!)
This post is dedicated to my best friend and faithful co-writer.
The one who pushes me to my full potential and wholeheartedly supports my dreams.
The one who loves me like Jesus does.
The one who always chooses to love me even though I sometimes miserably fail as a wife.
I am truly blessed to have you as my husband.
I love you so much Tyler Hansen, and I will always choose you.
For I have found the one whom my soul loves. – Solomon 3:4