Today’s guest post comes from Jessi Huenink, who has a beautiful and authentic story of how God has worked in her heart. She blogs about marriage, parenthood, fitness and the messiness of life at Existing for More.
Marriage – Year One
Our first year seems so long ago. A lot has happened between then and now. I’m older and wiser, right?
But honestly, in the last 5.5 years, I’ve had a lot of growth opportunities in our marriage. Of course, with growth, a by-product is there are moments that don’t make me proud.
You may be thinking, “Marriage isn’t for the faint of heart. Go easy on yourself!” That’s what I told myself too, for way too long. The problem was I used this as a dismissive excuse to escape necessary maturing on my end.
Expectations Cause Problems
My problem was that I had ideas, expectations, and plans for the way I thought life should be as a wife. We all enter marriage with preconceived notions, sure. I know I’m not the first wife to have expectations, and I certainly won’t be the last.
But my issue was an absolute unwillingness to let these things go. Even when it was clear I wouldn’t “get my way,” I’d continue to pound the square peg into the round hole. Because, surely, if I kept doing this, I’d get my desired outcome.
Little things became big things way too fast. I reacted stubbornly and so did he.
Oddly enough, one of the reasons I am most attracted to my husband is he is not a push-over. Rather, he is strong willed and expresses his opinion. Great qualities when they work in your favor. At the same time, you can easily see why this might interfere with “my way.”
Put Down the Shovel
Obviously, impasses were typical. He stood his ground in hopes of persuading me to see that my worries were minute in comparison to the big picture. I tried to get him to see they WERE important!
My mind told me, “If he really loved me, he’d _____________.” (shut the cupboards, turn off his alarm the first time, put dishes in the dishwasher, hang up his towel, etc.)
He challenged me continually. If he followed my “rules,” would I really find happiness? Or would I simply find something else to complain about? Ouch.
Day after day, I nagged my husband. I kept thinking things like, “Am I your mom?!” Who wants that from a wife? One dish in the sink would lead to armageddon. This may seem dramatic and unnecessary, but I’m grateful now for his unrelenting approach that helped me see my obstinacy.
Eventually, I got to the point where I was sick and tired of living this way. This whole time, I’d been seeking life advice from my mentor, although I hadn’t directly asked for help on this specific topic. I knew she was waiting for it. When I finally asked for help, she smiled and turned it back on me with a profound question.
“Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”
BOTH! They are synonymous! We laughed, but we also knew those were my true feelings. Surprisingly, my husband is an adult who lived 26 years before I showed up. As my dear friend would gently remind me, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
That may be true, but my way is definitely the best, right?! Old ideas like this make me cringe as I write them now. I was such a snot and knew so little about how to do marriage! As always, no progress can be made without a little pain-induced humility.
Baby Steps Toward Change
Other life experiences had taught me that it wasn’t going to be as easy as self-willing my way into new thoughts and behaviors. I needed God to come into my heart and remove these old ideas and my desire for control!
For me, praying is great, but action is better. Along with asking God for help, I started writing out things that drove me crazy. Once I saw them on paper, they seemed very minor and almost silly.
A few “defects” lost their power over me and the healing process began.
As my list started to decrease, I continually asked God for help. Some days I would humbly get on my knees before my husband woke up. This translated to a better day. I was empowered to bite my tongue if something trivial annoyed me. Better yet, on those days, small things didn’t even bother me! However, if I was caught on my heels, without prayer, even my husband singing in the shower would send me through the roof!
What I Learned
This process enabled me to learn a few things. One, I married this man because I was head over heels in love with him. I knew he ran late, is messy, is extremely passionate and decisive. These were the things I loved about him. Until they got in my way.
So clearly, the problem was me. I learned that I had some major control issues. I had prayed for months, specifically for a man with these characteristics. I’d worked with God, looking over past relationships and decided the above traits were ones that I wanted in my future husband. Even though I had what I asked for, I was upset and sometimes ready to throw in the towel. More evidence that I really didn’t know what I wanted.
Overcoming and Moving Forward
Now here we are, 5.5 years later and we are happier than ever. Things aren’t perfect and I am caught on my heels more days than I’d like to admit. But I’ve learned, evil is waiting to find a weakness in our marriage. So if I don’t want that to happen, I really have to be intentional. Every. Day.
I need to get right with God upon awakening. As long as I live, I’ll work on holding my tongue. What is thought doesn’t always need to be said. Letting my husband be himself is crucial.
Even though I wouldn’t always do things the way he does, they seem to work out for him — surprisingly, without MY input! It’s important for me to remember God led me to this man because He had a plan. Moreover, by being with this man, I get to grow as a woman in Christ as we grow together.
Looking at marriage from that perspective, leaving the cupboard doors open really does seem pretty small.
Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.