My husband-to-be, later in life, confessed he was standing there thinking similar things.
We were 17 weeks pregnant and knew that we loved each other enough to do what was right for the baby, and together we were better financially than apart. To say the least, it was an interesting start to a marriage.
The first 10 years we treated our marriage the way the world taught us to. We had the mindset that marriage equals misery, a type of bondage.
This world view of marriage landed us miserable. Sure there were glimpses of good times, but without a “structure” of how marriage should really work, we were floundering in a mental prison. We cohabitated…we did it well. We were decent roommates. However, looking back, it was a waste of 10 years of what could have been time invested into each other.
We spent our 10th Anniversary separated. At this point in life, we had been decently successful with our businesses, and had built the material life we wanted. But there was a great invisible gulf between us emotionally that material items didn‘t fill. It only deepened everyday. When it got too wide and one of us would begin to fall into this abyss, for some unknown reason, the one would reach in and pull the other out. While living with the idea that marriage was bondage we were creating the demise of our marriage; sometimes intentional, sometimes unintentional.
We got back together after a four month separation. Sometime in late 2007 God used my eldest daughter to come after me. She started pulling on my aprons strings to take her to church and be baptized. In Dec. 2007 she was baptized, and in Feb. 2008 I had a supernatural experience with this Jehovah God, Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ. I won’t go into details for time sake but I will say this, my mind was renewed, I didn’t think the way I used to. And I craved to learn more about this God I had encountered. I took the next two years and spent every night on my bed watching/reading everything I could about religion. In that process, I became a Godly minded wife.
God showed me all of the behavior I had that was tearing down my marriage. He showed me why he created marriage, and how it was a blessing, not a curse, to be celebrated, not mistreated, and it was a legacy, not a tragedy.
I celebrated 20 years of marriage yesterday, and I am going to share what God showed me, and how it works for me. But before I go on, if you are not in a safe environment, you need to get yourself to one. I have NEVER been physically or verbally abused by my husband. Those things would have been a game changer. Moving on…
My biggest problem the first 10 years was divorce was always an option. Just laying on the table in case I wanted to play that card. When I decided I just wasn’t feeling “in love” with him, I would start to imagine my life without him. This took my time, my thoughts, and my happiness! I had to take it off of the table. Then I had to figure out how to accomplish my happiness I longed for with him.
Next, I STOPPED tearing down my husband to people when I was annoyed with him. This is huge! Stop saying anything negative about the person you chose to spend your life with. I was terrible about this. I was using it as some sort of self-medication because in my lost mind I had the right to tear him down because of his failures in our marriage, but then fuss at him if he dared say anything about my failures.
DO NOT CALL NAMES! This makes my husband crazy to hear others call their spouse derogatory names.
I started respecting him. I began to ponder the things I loved about him. Some of these I didn’t even realize until we had spent years together. He is the kindest man I know. He will stay behind to help cleanup, change a tire, or give you his last dollar. He makes me laugh everyday, and when I would scream and yell like an idiot he would not engage. He doesn’t get jealous, he doesn’t fuss, he doesn’t ask me where I am all of the time. He cleans! He cooks! I began to speak respectfully of my husband, even when I don‘t feel “in-love“, I respect him, and he respects me. That’s marriage. If I base my commitment on my daily feelings then we go back to the above train-wreck. I promise, after 20 years, I look forward to the dry spells because I know the waterfalls and oceans are coming, and those waves are feelings of new, deeper love springing forth! Who better to experience that with than the man who knows me better than anyone. The best marriages are built during the dry spells because it is then that you have to physically make an effort to invest time, energy, kindness into each other. Fall in love over and over again, with the same person.
If you want to be respected then create something worth respecting…this was big! I had not been a wife he could respect. My language, my behavior, my actions were sometimes on point, sometimes grotesque, I had no moral compass (Holy Ghost) guiding my decisions, I was basing it on my feelings for the day. I’m a woman, I’m hormonal, bless his heart…that’s all I can say about those first 10 years with me. We both were a hot mess.
If you do not respect your spouse, the people around you won’t either. If you don’t hold your marriage to high regards, then you are teaching the people around you that they don’t have to. The people in my life are well aware that I do not participate in inappropriate conversations. You are opening doors for the enemy to come in and pummel your marriage, SHUT THE DOOR!
I started praying for him. My prayer life has deepened each year, with understanding how to pray for him, I watched both our thought patterns about our marriage change. I pray every morning, “God, turn our hearts towards each other, remind us today how important our marriage is to each other, stir us physically and emotionally for each other, and I declare the scripture that says ‘NO weapon formed against us shall prosper!’” The days I have failed to pray for us are the days I feel separated from him emotionally. I cannot express the importance to pray for yourself, your spouse, your marriage!!! Only God can renew his mind…PRAY for him.
We do not argue. Not because we don’t have things to argue about. Part of this is because he is so easy-going. Part of this is we have figured out what issues cause us to infuriate the other and we took those things off of the table. For example: we do not share checking accounts. It’s just easier for he and I. My personal accounting measures are different than his ideas and it just works better for us like this. We don’t argue about money. Do we agree on how to handle it? Obviously not, but I am not going to let our accounting differences separate me from this man I love..nor the shoes in the floor, the clothes by the bed, the way he makes the bed… We just move on. However, we trust each other to do the responsible thing with money. I know his info, he knows mine. I have faith in this man to be an adult and handle his business, he expects the same from me. Now when we want to argue, we have learned to be adults and sit down and say, “I am not a fan of ….” We’ve even had our children be a part of some of these discussions because they are now teenagers and are learning to date; they need to learn how to fight-fair. Is there hurt? Yes, but it will not consume my marriage.
I had to learn that I am not his parent. Nor did I want him to be mine. Marriage is about two people coming together as one and creating a life experience. The Bible says we leave our parents and cleave to each other. That’s intimate! And it says I left my parents. DO NOT be a parent! And DON’T act like a child. Be a friend, be a confidant, be a partner, be a lover, but don’t be a parent. I do not need you to oversee my spending, fuss as me for leaving my shoes out, and police my outings. The best thing we learned to do was to stop asking permission to do things. My husband loves golf outings. He loves to camp. Due to my work schedule and etc. I do not do these things with him. I am offended if he asks me if he can go. I am not your mother. I am your wife. I trust that you are going to spend wisely, you are going to respect me during your outing, and you are going to honor our marriage while away from me. And I will do the same while you are gone. That’s called faith. That’s called trust. Respect. And that’s created a wonderful, easy, happy atmosphere that he and I enjoy greatly. And when I travel without him it’s the same. I am here to experience life with him! I enjoy watching him live his life as a man who has been successful. And vice/versa. He never fusses at me, no matter how many times I paint the front door a different color, or how many chairs I have bought this past year. It’s. Just. Easy. It’s freeing!
The biggest reason I was able to make the above changes in my thinking is this:
God said, “What kind of marriage do you want your children to have? Then be their example.” When things are less than perfect I am reminded that my children are watching us and learning how to “be married” themselves. My marriage is not just mine and his, it’s their marriage too. They will learn about being parents and spouses by watching us on a daily basis. There have been times when I see my children being unfair in a relationship and I say, “Do your dad and I treat each other like that?”
Be kind to each other, be respectful to and of each other, put God first and each other second, be romantic, be friends. I am saddened to see when two people who fell in love turn into enemies, turn into victims of each others behavior, or turn into a place of dullness in their marriages. It’s what you make it, make it amazing.
Treat your spouse the way you want to be treated. Serve them, and in turn you will reap the rewards of selflessness.
I don’t just love this man, I adore this man, and when the enemy tries to remind me of things we have done in the past that have caused harm to each other, I am reminded of what God said to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
Happy 20th Anniversary, Jason. My gift to you is to honor this marriage we have that is only ours. My words, actions, and deeds I give to you because when you are well, I am well. I am completely, totally, and deeply in love with you.
He bought me these gorgeous diamonds as my gift; he said I could call the title of my blog, ‘He Painted A House for Me.’ He seriously did, and this is exactly what I mean. After 20 years he spends all week working a second job to buy me something I didn’t deserve.