One of the areas that I probably struggle with the most is my marriage. Over the years, God has slowly weeded and pulled back layer after layer of wrong thinking about what it is to be married. I had my ideas at the beginning my hopes and dreams of what it would be like. I had my expectations of what type of husband Steve should be and what type of wife I should be according to scripture. But as the years passed neither of us looked like anything that I had imagined.
In my eyes, my marriage was not great. I was frustrated, misunderstood, and felt unloved. I desperately wanted Steve to open up and talk to me like I wanted him to talk to me. I wanted him to help me the way I really wanted to be helped. I wanted him to listen to me and appreciate me. The fact was I wanted him to be God. I wanted to find my fulfillment of love, understanding, help, and security in him. When he didn’t meet these impossible requirements, I would sit him down and make him listen to endless complaints and hurts I felt. In other words, I blamed him for my lack of satisfaction in our marriage.
I hated the feelings of this constant frustration and bitterness that brewed right below the surface. I could talk with about any woman and she could tell me similar stories of her own frustration with her husband as I had felt. Never helping enough, never loving enough, never understanding enough. Ugh, it was maddening!
I prayed for change. The Lord answered and he changed me.
The First Change
The first thing God began to weed out of my mind was my expectations of Steve. I had a long standing saying that I would frequently tell him, “I don’t expect anymore out of you that I wouldn’t do myself.” To the world, that seems totally legitimate but according to scripture that is a total lie. I had placed myself as judge in our marriage. I was always weighing who did what and that everything was even and if it wasn’t and I was a losing party someone was going to hear about it. I left no room for grace, I left no room for mercy and I left no room for love. I had impossible expectations of Steve to be the perfect godly husband and when he failed to meet them I was disappointed. The Lord began to reveal to me that it was only him who was going to meet the expectations of the perfect husband. I had to release Steve from them.
The Second Change
As God slowly removed expectations I had, He began to reveal himself as the perfect husband. As I would study his word, he would remind me of the love he has for me. When I would be tired and needed help, He would breath encouragement into my heart and strength into my arms. When I felt misunderstood and losing my way, with gentleness he would guide me back to him giving me wisdom and understanding. I began to fill satisfied in Christ.
The Third Change
The more I grew closer to Christ the more He asked me to trust and obey him. The day came that he told me to totally offer up my marriage to him. I was scared because what he was really asking me to do was to totally forgive Steve for any hurt I had incurred by him. I was scared because I felt like God was asking me to change so much and nothing was asked of Steve. I felt like I was going to live in a marriage where I give all and I receive nothing. However, I knew I couldn’t live bitter nor did I want to teach my children to live in a bitter marriage. I released it all to God. I was scared of being hurt but I knew God would care for me and for him. I had to forgive because I had been forgiven. The beauty of what Christ was asking of me was exactly what he has already done for me, forgive and love.
After releasing my marriage back to God, everything didn’t magically change over night. Life is still about the same but there has been a radical change in my heart. The fruit bears more and more each day. Where I had impossible expectations for my husband, they have been laid down so I can appreciate what he does do for our family and how he is a blessing to me and our children. Where I desired to have him love me and understand me the way I wanted him to, I now find that fully in Christ and it has allowed me to love him more and understand him better. Where forgiveness has replaced bitterness, there is mercy and there is grace.
During this process, it was never about how God was going to change Steve to become my perfect husband. God was showing me how he is the perfect husband and how by fixing my eyes upon him he would change my heart to become a more godly wife towards Steve. By no means do I have it all figured out. I fail often in being respectful and kind. I have a sharp tongue that does not like to be tamed and a bad attitude along with it. However, it is freeing knowing that my satisfaction in my marriage is not tied up in what I am receiving from my husband but in the relationship I have with Christ. I can surrender those bad attitudes, my sharp tongue and ask for forgiveness. I can humble myself before him not trying to keep a record of who did what. I can love because I am loved by God. I can appreciate because I am appreciated.