I am so excited to have my first ever guest blogger here today! She is a dear friend of mine whom I have known for years. I asked her a while back if she would be willing to join me during my marriage blog series, “So what’s this about fairy tales??” She has one of the most beautiful hearts and her greatest desire is to use this “change in direction” of her personal life to change the direction in which other women perceive their husbands.
“Marriage is hard”… you hear it from the time you start dating, to the constant reminder during premarital counseling, not to mention every self-help/motivational book on marriage contains these three words in some form or fashion. Why? Because it stinkin’ is!!! It’s almost baffling how hard marriage is, but you know what’s harder than marriage…DIVORCE.
When I married my husband, divorce was the very last thing on my mind as I said my “I do.” I grew up around divorce and I even knew what the bible said about divorce. “God hates divorce”…it’s right there in the book of Malachi, ohhh chapter 2… verse 16, you know just hanging out. Let those words sit with you for a moment…God. Hates. Divorce. And yet, here I am a twenty-something, single mom of two beautiful babies, and…I’m divorced. However, I have chosen to believe that despite my unwanted, unasked for circumstances, God has given me a gift, that of an open heart and opened eyes. Not only that but He has given me beautiful friends who have walked alongside me during this journey and even at times carried me. Because of them I have been filled with this incredible sense of gratitude, despite my life not going as I had planned. Now, I don’t know where you are at right now in your marriage. Maybe you and your spouse have become nothing more than roommates or maybe you are tired of the constant excuses and the unwillingness on their part to make healthy, vital changes. Or maybe you have just lost that “loving feeling” amidst the dirty diapers and toddler tantrums. I want to share with you, dear friends, what I have learned as I have journeyed this road and some insight into this other world where the “grass” is often thought to be greener but it most certainly is not.
Let’s start with the toothpaste in the sink, you know that annoying habit your spouse can’t seem to kick, or the infamous toilet seat being left up! Oh my, heaven forbid!! Don’t they realize you have enough on your chore-list as it is?? How dare they!! Oh don’t get me wrong…I’ve been in your shoes, rolling my eyes at every room in my house that’s left in shambles. I realize that these are small and even trivial offenses and trust me I have had to work through the bigger ones, but keep track with me here. I am now able to see with eyes wide open how I could have offered more grace to even the silly things such as the toothpaste in the sink and the toilet seat left up. How I could have bent towards him more instead of pulling away. And only by God’s grace, am I now able to see both sides of it. You see, this wasn’t my plan to be divorced. But sometimes, somethings… are out of your control. With God’s grace and His infinite healing, my greatest desire is to use this “change in direction” of my personal life to change the direction in which other women perceive their husbands.
“Godly marriages magnify God’s ingenious creation” – Frances Chan
This is one of the greatest quotes from his book Marriage is Forever. Frances and his wife Lisa write in tandem throughout the book, discussing how the way you view your marriage, it creates either a lifelong regret or reward simply based on YOUR view. This book speaks so deeply to the soul and personally I feel it answers exactly how you can not only have a healthy marriage, but also how you can stay in love…the key lies in how YOU view your spouse. Are they a regret or a reward? In this hectic world where we are constantly trying to pursue the “American Dream,” where we are always on the go and where most marriages lack deep communication, I find it’s easy to push our daily frustrations on our spouse and to lose sight of the gift that they truly are. I love this excerpt from Erin Loechner’s new book Chasing Slow : “The thing about the American dream, about marital bliss, about any rewarding pursuit in this world, is this: it isn’t a given. It’s a gift.”
Think back to when you dated your now beloved husband or wife. If we are honest with ourselves, it was almost as if we treated them like a job interview. Whenever we were around them, we would completely act ourselves…only the very best version of ourselves. And you may already know where this is going…but newsflash…we change, we become comfortable. Whole-heartedly, I feel one of the greatest attributes to marriage is knowing no matter how frustrated, overwhelmed or verbally unfiltered we may become at times, we know they will always love us. It’s the Christ given example, right? God loves us no matter how fallen we become. Hallelujah and Amen! And then eventually kids come into play…aka sleepless nights, mounds of laundry and endless running trying to keep up with them. When kids enter the scene, both you and your spouse become permanently exhausted and mere shells of your former selves. Which unfortunately, means we no longer give our spouse the best version of ourselves but whatever is left over at the end of the day. Do you remember those little love notes you used to leave in their lunches…or the special texts throughout the day just to let them know you’re thinking about them… well if you’re like most women, you’re just too busy running the household to even text out those tiny phrases anymore. Although let’s face it, we have plenty of time to scroll Facebook 37 times a day. And yet…we wonder why sometimes they don’t bring us flowers like they used to? Or why that honey-do list just doesn’t get done?
Few marriages radiate the glory that God intended for us to have with our spouse. While we are overworked, often unappreciated, and mostly overwhelmed every.single.day…it is up to us to refocus our lens and change our view of our spouse. Not only that, but to rekindle the bond that brought you and your spouse together in the first place. Love in it’s true essence is sacrificial, work on becoming selfless, putting your spouse’s needs and wants before your own. Pay the extra money for a babysitter and go on a date. Show more affection and appreciation; less nagging and negativity. Get over your frustrations of the past and move forward, full of gratitude because a life lived with gratitude is a life, even a marriage lived to the fullest. And as you’ve heard quoted a million times before from the words of Paul “Love is patient, Love is kind…it is not self-seeking” (insert eye roll). I mean seriously, who doesn’t have that read at their wedding now and days?? But those tiny phrases… are God-given and maybe, just maybe, you need to fill your head full of those graces again.
Finally, cherish your marriage. In fact, right now I want you to go hug your spouse and just hold them for a couple extra seconds, because you can’t even begin to understand the emptiness you would feel if they were gone. Know and fully understand that your cup is overflowing despite the “toothpaste in the sink.” Choose everyday to open your eyes to the wonderful life God has blessed you with.