One bad year turned into two and before I knew it, we were creeping up on five years of misery. Sure we’d had some good times, but secretly our marriage felt like an episode of Marriage Bootcamp. Hard and full of drama.
Marriage was a bigger challenge than I’d ever imagined. I’d gone into it with pretty simple expectations: He’d make me happy all the time. When he didn’t, I got angry and bitter. I was sad. I got mean.
He wasn’t meeting my need for emotional intimacy. I didn’t meet his need for physical intimacy. Talk about a hot mess.
I’d go days without speaking to him, and even considered having an affair. I acted like a spoiled child, and fantasized about divorce. It was bad. I didn’t know much about God, but if He was good as everyone said He was, I couldn’t believe He’d want me to be in an unhappy marriage.
“God is love, right?” I rationalized. He’d want me to be happy.
Still, I couldn’t bear the thought of people thinking I was a failure. I stuck it out, hoping it’d get better (with little or no help from me).
For years, I hid behind a smile. I pretended life was good. I didn’t want anyone to know how miserable we were behind closed doors.
Are you hiding your difficult or painful marriage behind a smile? Do unmet expectations and frustrations make you bitter or angry towards your husband?
The Road to Divorce Court
If things had continued as they were, my husband and I might’ve been on the road to divorce court. One weekend–when I was out of town– someone invited him to church. If I’d been home, I never would’ve agreed to go.
But God had other plans.
I wasn’t home.
And, he went again and again.
Then, he had the nerve to suggest we attend church together. Regularly. This was going to be another issue we’d be on opposite sides of.
I refused to go.
But, he kept going. Week after week he’d ask me to go with him. Week after week, I refused.
Frustrated and at the end of my rope, I finally agreed to go.
Just A Short Detour…
I gave him an inch, he tried to take a mile. He wanted us to join a small group.
Reluctantly, I agreed. But, I was determined not to share the details of my marriage. I remember sitting in a group of women as the leader asked each woman questions about her relationship with her husband. I felt defensive.
What difference did it make how I treated him? He was the reason for our unhappiness.
If he was more loving, romantic and caring, I’d be, too.
As she asked the questions and they shared, I excused myself and went into the bathroom and cried. I refused to let anyone see the pain in my heart. I turned her questions over in my mind:
- Did you say anything disrespectful to your husband in the past week?
- Did you say anything unkind to your husband in the past week?
- Were you in an inappropriate relationship in the past week?
- Did you harbor anger in your heart towards your husband in the past week?
I was three for four. If things continued the way they were, I’d figured I’d be four for four before long. But, I was afraid to admit it.
They Didn’t Pull Any Punches
I was amazed by the transparency and women’s willingness to share the struggles in their marriages.
Finally, my turn came. I didn’t want to share but when I began talking, I couldn’t stop. My hurt found its way from my heart to my mouth and fell out. Tears sprung to my eyes as I admitted my struggles.
The women met me with love and encouragement. No one called me a bad wife. No one called me a failure. Instead they began to love me through my struggles. I learned how my attitude was hurting my husband and my marriage.
As we continued to meet with our small group, we saw godly marriages modeled.
I learned things like…
- How God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, including my suffering (Romans 8:28).
- How God uses marriage to refine us.
- What loving my husband unconditionally meant.
- I was held accountable for my behavior as a wife.
- I had to make mindful decisions to forgive.
- How to adjust my expectations.
I wish I’d understood how damaging a poor attitude could be to my marriage. I wish I’d had a mentor to encourage me early in my marriage.
We Ended Up Making a U-Turn On the Road to Divorce Court
Learning how to adjust expectations and love unconditionally was not easy. Sometimes, I still drop the ball. Marriage is hard, but the pain of divorce is much worse.
The problems in my marriage were the direct result of my unmet expectations. I had to learn how to let go of expectations and embrace God’s will.
We made a U-turn on the road to divorce court, and thankfully we’re riding up on 32 years of marriage. I wish I’d had someone to challenge my attitude and expectations early in my marriage. Life isn’t rosy all the time. But, we’ve learned how to love and respect each other, even when it’s hard.
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