I have about 200 things to do today so I slept in and am moving ridiculously slow and I’ve got this blog post nagging at me so I’m going to go ahead and write it, because for some reason it needs to be written.
Big Daddy and I celebrated our 8th anniversary recently and I am more in love with him now than I was on the day I married him, but that’s certainly not the whole story. We’ve got our share of skeletons in the closet. Living together and learning together is messy business and I’ve got some pretty vivid memories of me being downright nasty to the man I love the most. I’m not proud of them, but I’m also glad they still make me cringe. Those little snapshots don’t go on the fridge, but they do help me remember to walk away and calm down before I speak.
The point is that our marriage has had some really painful times where we both were feeling alone and unimportant. The details don’t matter and only dirty laundry I’m going to share is that during each of the most difficult seasons in our marriage, I was focused on what kind of husband Big Daddy was being and ignoring what kind of wife I’d become. I convinced myself that HE had to change so we could be happy again and I let him know daily how disappointed I was. I guess I thought that pointing out my unhappiness would help or maybe I wanted to make sure he hurt too. (Typing that caused a pretty sharp pain, so I’m not going to delete it even though I want to.) I thought that if I could explain just how unhappy I was he’d say, “Well gosh Jen, I didn’t realize this wasn’t working for you! I think I’ll straighten right up and go back to making you the center of the universe. Sorry for the inconvenience!”
The secret recipe for misery is blaming anyone and everyone else for my bad behavior. This applies to anything where there are others involved–I’m 100% stuck when THEY are the problem.
Y’all, I was stuck. I was stuck in blame, self-pity, anger, resentment and buried under all that garbage was this dream I’d had for our life together. I was drowning and then someone proposed an idea that was so ridiculous it followed me around for days. I’m telling you this was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard and obviously the person who said it had NO CLUE what my life was like. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I tried it anyway. I was so miserable that I tried it anyway just to prove it was wrong.
Wanna hear it?
The idea was that I could treat Big Daddy right no matter how he was acting.
I’m telling you that thought messed me up. It tugged at my sleeves and whispered in my ear. It kept after me from sun up to midnight. I thought about the wife I’d intended to be. On the day I married Big Daddy, I didn’t say this is the man I want to beat up for the rest of my life–to discourage and deflate, to love conditionally in sunshine and in prosperity…
That dumb idea began to take hold and I tried (and often failed) to be a good wife no matter what was going on with him. I started giving him the benefit of the doubt. I started telling him I was proud of him, and that I admired him. I tried to be kind. I tried to be on his team. I decided to trust him. I tried to encourage him. I asked for his input and really listened. I told him how much I love him over and over and over. I tried to be the best wife I know how to be and do you know what I got for my efforts? I got a better husband. It didn’t happen all at once and I didn’t change over night. I am in no way 100% reformed, but I think I’m better than I used to be.
I could and probably will write thousands of words about what good guy I’m married to, and the truth is that he was just as good of a guy when I was so upset with him as he is today. He was going through some painful and frustrating stuff and I made his struggles about me. I made his struggles about me and used that to justify my actions and my inaction. When I committed to do better even though I wasn’t feeling better, I opened my mind and my heart in a way that God could change me and I made it safe for my husband to be where he was until he worked through what he was wrestling with. I found that the more grace I extended, the more grace I received.
Make it a terrific Thursday y’all!