Let me begin by saying this: I love my marriage, but it’s far from perfect.
Over the past six years, my husband and I have learned a lot about conflict; mostly through living it. Conflict is not an optional aspect of marriage. Throw in a year of on-and-off quarantine, and those tensions and irritations become even more impossible to avoid. I wish I could tell you that there has never been a moment that I’ve harboured a bad attitude toward my marriage. Sadly, this is not a perfect world, and there are no perfect people or marriages.
I hope my story will encourage you, and that the help God has given me to see the value of my marriage more clearly will be an encouragement to you whatever state your marriage is in right now.
It all started with a few days of perpetual irritation. I was resentful of the chores I needed to do around the house, I was frustrated by how needy my kids were, and I was agitated by the very notion that my husband was not in my shoes, feeling all the same pressures I was and handling daily things with the amount of urgency that I feel they deserve. Instead of nipping those irritations in the bud, I entertained them. Before long, I had compiled a mental list of every reason why I was dissatisfied, all originating in some action or word that my husband had done or said. Instead of seeing him as a whole – with all the efforts that he makes on a daily basis to love and serve our family – I had started to blame him for my state of mind.
Ladies, it’s frightening how quickly and easily I descended into this place. The worst part of it all is that there were small bits of truth behind every complaint I raised. Unless you somehow managed to marry Adam before the fall, there will always be ways for your husband to be more helpful or more romantic, or more sensitive to your needs. The question is, how do we deal with these shortcomings when they arise?
When we’re angry, it’s easy to allow our problems to be blown out of proportion. We may start to question whether our spouse cares about the way they treat us. Or worse, we might even be tempted to conclude that there is some fundamental incompatibility between us that could put the entire marriage in jeopardy. As Christians, it’s so, so important that we combat these fears and frustrations with God’s perspective on marriage.
God did not design marriage to complete you. Nor did He design marriage to negate your need for other relationships or influences in your life. The life that quarantine has imposed on us has made this reality all too easy to forget: we’ve been cut off from the friends and church families who used to help to nourish the parts of our identities that were distinct from our role as wives. What we’ve been left with is all of the same needs, but only one in-person relationship to meet them. That is an enormous burden that even the most textbook-perfect husband is simply unable to carry.
The purpose of marriage is to point us to Jesus. At the best times, my husband’s love is a reflection of the love of Jesus. At the worst, his failures remind me that only Jesus can love me perfectly. Whichever it may be, the underlying emphasis of marriage needs to be that perfect steadfast love can only be found in God.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t work to identify the areas in our marriages that need growth and improvement. But as you do, be encouraged by the knowledge that even in the difficulties, there is both purpose and an inexhaustible well of perfect love available to sustain you through it from our loving creator, God.
If you’re frustrated and hurting – tell Him! Go for a drive and air your grievances out loud, or take some alone time with a journal or laptop and write out what you’re feeling. Ask God to meet you in the honesty of your heart and He will be there.
Through prayer, God has taken my restlessness and turned it into the peace of being understood. He has taken my complaining and turned it into a conviction of my own faults. He has taken my disappointments and turned them into twice as many reasons for gratitude. When I bring those transformed attitudes into my marriage, I see conflict in an entirely new light. My heart is no longer set on exposing my husband’s weaknesses for the purposes of justifying my own frustrations. Instead – with complete confidence in the love God has shown me – I come prepared to acknowledge my faults, offer forgiveness, and move toward reconciliation. I’m reminded that my marriage is a gift; one that is well worth fighting for.
I don’t know what conflict you are currently facing in your marriage, but I do know the one who knows and is ready and willing to meet your needs in the midst of it.
“For God alone my soul waits in silence;
From him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
My fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
“Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God,
And that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.”
// Psalm 62:1, 11-12a
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