My husband has been self employed most of our 25 years of marriage, but for the last 4 years he had been working a few days a week for someone else. That meant that he was gone those days. I liked that. I liked having that feeling of missing him. It made it more special when he WAS home. It also let me feel like the queen of my house.
Several weeks ago his season at this job came to end. The job role had changed and he had been stressed for quite some time. It became clear that he was going to be back at home full time. This made both of us nervous, but for different reasons. His concern was for provision…that he would have enough work to keep us afloat. Mine was for the impact it would have on our marriage and my daily life with him around ALL. THE. TIME.
My husband and I have had a very good marriage and when the kids were little, I loved having another adult to talk to, so having him home was great. Since we have had teens and adults in the house, my need for words has diminished. In fact, I’m pretty much done with words by the end of the day. We homeschool our kids (five out of eight are still at home), so they are here pretty much all the time…with their words, their agenda. And, bless their hearts, they take up a lot of ‘personal space’. So, needless, to say, I was less than excited to have another person filling up our house, not mention I feel the need as a wife to pay attention to my husband if it seems like he needs me at anytime throughout the day.
Then it got hard. His stress was taking its toll. I don’t know about yours, but when my husband is under pressure he has a survival mode that he goes into. I don’t like it. AT. ALL. But I was trying to be understanding. Well, maybe not trying quite as hard as I could. Finally I realized what was happening and that we needed to address this.
I chose a time when we were having fun, hoping to keep things light. FAIL. It pretty much ruined THAT moment. His response was not what I had hoped for. We’ve been down this road before, but this time was different. For me. You know that realization that this may be an area in your husband that NEVER CHANGES, and that you are TIRED? Tired of fighting it, tired of being upset by it. I found myself making a commitment inwardly to NEVER do this again. I would not make the effort to connect with him in this way, even for the health of our marriage. I would, instead, give up and avoid it like the plague. And for the first time ever, I felt up for the challenge.
At that moment, I realized I was in a dangerous place. I started praying a hedge of protection around our marriage because the idea I was entertaining was basically divorce. Not on paper. Not in public. But privately I was considering divorcing myself emotionally from this man that I had committed to love in good times and in bad. And that was like playing with fire.
As I continued to pray through the next day, God showed me why I was considering divorcing my husband emotionally…to protect myself, but He was also telling me I could still keep trying to work on this less than perfect relationship because even if my husband rejects my attempts at making our marriage healthier, He could fill that void.
You see, our husbands were never meant to be our all in all. Only God can be that. We aren’t put on this earth to have a perfect marriage. We are here to glorify HIM. And so we can love with abandon and not FEEL abandoned regardless of the results. God is just that good.
And, for the record, I confessed my thoughts and what God showed me, to my husband. The fact that I was declaring my dependence on God and not on my husband’s performance allowed him to freely make the choice to love me better, because he knew I was clearly going to be fine either way. It took the presssure off.
I also came to find out that what my husband seemed to be conveying on the outside during our conflict was NOT what was going on inside. He did NOT feel justified. He felt like a failure. Had I abandoned the relationship to protect myself, I never would have known that he was having his own battle. To my husband’s credit, he recognized my needs and responded in the following days in such tender ways. That isn’t going to happen every time for any of us, but God is ABLE and WILLING to fill that void.
No matter how great or lacking our marriages are, the struggle is real, but God is good. ALL.THE.TIME.
*I want to clarify that if you are being abused physcially or emotionally, you NEED to get help. I am not insinuating that anyone should be okay under those circumstances.