I’ve been married to my husband James for almost 18 years. Even though we still have issues and problems, for the most part we have a wonderful relationship. Sadly, I can’t say that it has always been that way.
When I got married, I didn’t delude myself by thinking that it was all going to be butterflies and roses. I knew we would face tough times. I knew there would be times I didn’t like him and other times when he didn’t like me. What I didn’t expect was for us to hate (yes I said the ‘H’ word) one another at the same time and for that mutual hate to last for over a year. Life in my house was not fun!
We came into our marriage with our own sets of baggage. (Not the kind that brings back fond memories of grand adventures) We were each broken and wounded, looking to the other to mend those painful places. That expectation only led to more brokenness and wounds.
I wanted him to make me feel loved and important. He wanted me to make Him feel respected and honored. My way of “earning” his love and being important was to bend over backwards to make sure the house was perfect, the kids were polished, and hot food was on the table. His way of “earning” my respect and honor was to bury himself in his job and make as much money as possible.
At the end of the day, we were both exhausted and no closer to having our desires met. We began to resent one another.
We kept score and quickly had a laundry list of:
- ways that the other had let us down
- stinging words they said
- ways they didn’t live up to their role of healing those broken places.
Each wound, disappointment, or offense was like a stone we picked up. It was jagged and cutting and added to the wounds we already carried. Over time we used those stones to build walls to protect our fragile hearts. Unfortunately we didn’t recognize that building walls only exasperated the isolation we each already felt in our marriage.
We groomed our walls well with the stones we gathered, but there were special ones we kept in reserve.
These special stones were handled with care because they represented the biggest hurts and disappointments of all. They, after all, were proof that he didn’t love me or that I didn’t respect him. They represented wounds that cut the deepest and we each clung to our own collection of these “treasures”.
We found ways to live “okay” with our walls and our wounds. We had happy kids, a clean house, and a balanced bank account; we didn’t have joy, peace, or butterflies.
We weren’t aware of it at the time,but those “special stones” became part of our personal arsenal. We wouldn’t plan it (at least I don’t think we did), but we would be going right along doing “okay” when BOOM! Out of no where an opportunity was seized and one of those stones were levied at the other person. It always happened when the receiving person had allowed themselves to become vulnerable. (After all, what good is an attack if there is no chance of doing damage?)
Since the attacked person was in a vulnerable state, the stone may as well have been an emotional nuclear war head. Many times the wounded person could do nothing at the moment but run and cower, using what little energies they had left to repair and reinforce their wall.
I was as guilty as James was of this “Nuclear Sabotage”. I can’t explain it. I wouldn’t be looking for an opportunity to level him, but something in me sensed when he was vulnerable. Instead of taking that opportunity to try to connect, my instinct and reaction was to declare war. We kept score even in these assaults. The problem is that there comes a time when someone has nothing left to fight with.
My day came and I threw in the white flag. I surrendered. I was done.
We were “good”. We still had our walls, and our arsenals, but it was a season of cease fire. As we drove down the road, out of no where James threw a boulder from a wound I had caused him years before. At a different time, I would have forged a counter attack. This day I didn’t have it in me.
I had begun rebuilding my relationship with God, and I had contributed our current cease fire as God possibly working in our marriage. I knew He was working in me, and hoped James would be able to see it.
That day… in that moment…with that attack… I was shaken to my core. It wasn’t about getting even. It wasn’t even about my pain. Instantly it was about love. It hurt the deepest I had ever hurt, but it was love.
I loved him so much, that if he truly believed I was the type of woman and wife his attack suggested, then I was the wrong wife for him. He deserved better. I didn’t see myself as those terrible things, but if that was who he saw me as being, for his sake I would let him go.
I didn’t attack back. I didn’t inflict my wounds on him. I didn’t get defensive. I loved him enough to allow him to walk away. I didn’t want a divorce. I wasn’t looking for a reason to justify a divorce. I wasn’t laying a foundation to be able to present myself as a victim of his during or after a divorce. I loved him and wanted him to have a good wife. If that couldn’t happen with me, I still wanted that for him.
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”. (1 Peter 4:8, NLT)
For the first time this scripture made sense to me. I saw the love God had for me in a new light. I recognized that I had treated my relationship with God much the same as I had the relationship with my husband. I kept score of all the times I felt he let me down.
I levied stones of accusations against Him yet He never fought back. Instead, God had always countered my attacks with love.
What I felt towards my husband in that moment was only a small glimpse of what God feels towards us daily. With this realization, something amazing happened…I FELT LOVED! Not by my husband, but by the one who created me. I didn’t have to be on guard or defensive…I was loved. That love helped me lay down my stones.
The most bizarre thing happened when I responded to my husband with love…he lost his desire to fight. He realized he didn’t believe the things he had assaulted me with. He was just following the pattern of attack that we had established early on in our marriage. Truth be told, this pattern was probably established long before we met.
, (Mark 10:8-9, NLT)
Society often says that marriage is 50/50 or that a person’s spouse is their other half. This simply isn’t true. Marriage is 100/100. A spouse isn’t your other half because the Lord makes you one with them. This means your spouse becomes your whole.
Once we gain that truth, we are able to recognize that the stones we levee at our spouse hit us as well. It is no longer you or me, but WE. Are you ready to lay down your stones and discard your arsenal? Are you ready to love?
|All images courtesy of Pixabay|
Father God, I ask you to help us recognize the arsenals we have built up in our marriages. Give us the courage to lay those weapons at your feet. Help us know how to show deep love to our spouses. As we gain a concept of what deep love actually is, we ask you to heal the wounds of our heart so we are free to love more deeply. We choose to lay our stones down. Help us to not pick them back up. In Jesus’ name we pray ~Amen