I’m stuck on a marriage theme so bear with me, guys, because 1) One cannot possibly address all there is to address about marriage hardships in a single post, and 2) there have been so, so, so many of my friends and acquaintances who have reached out to me after the last few blogs about our stunning lack of marital bliss behind closed doors; we are by zero means alone in these struggles.
Let’s just get this out there: one of the hardest things–no, THE hardest thing–about working on a marriage, for me, was working on myself.
There’s never a good excuse for some of the crappy things husbands and wives do to each other–but hearing from an objective third party that there was a reason in our case? Was almost unbearable to me…especially when that reason turned out to be crappy behavior on my part, spanning the course of ten years.
For a while I fought this revelation: why should I talk to a counselor about my weaknesses and shortcomings? The problem here isn’t me. I was so resentful of having to face my own problems–so resentful.
But God kept shining a spotlight on issues He knew needed to be resolved in order to do a mighty work in both of us. You always hear this: “If you want to see a change in your husband/kids/dog, you must first change yourself.” Or some junk like that. It’s corny but that doesn’t make it false. I had to change. Like, a lot.
Change is hard for me. And one thing Caleb got to accept while I pushed through was that change was going to be a long process, and I would need him more than I’ve needed him for anything before.
We suddenly remembered those vows about sticking together under God’s direction, for better or for worse.
We all know Mrs. Better. We don’t even need to talk about it. She’s generally awesome–a few quirks, maybe, but they’re tolerable quirks, maybe even cute quirks. It’s a joy to be Mrs. Better.
But I tend to get stuck in Mrs. Worse mode.
Mrs. Worse gets irritable at the end of a long day. Her self-esteem is iffy. She needs constant reassurance about how she looks and how she cooks and how she parents.
Mrs. Worse is an irrational alcoholic who breaks dishes and throws picture frames.
Mrs. Worse gets wrinkles and gains weight, 10, 20, maybe 60 pounds; no matter how often she runs or how much salad she eats, she can’t seem to lose it. She’s no longer pretty and she doesn’t feel like smiling. Mrs. Worse has no time to put on make-up or straighten her hair. The light is gone from her eyes. She is dark, and drained.
Mrs. Worse is too tired for romantic candlelight. Her neck hurts and she is angry for a reason she can’t pinpoint. The bed is for sleeping only, and sometimes not even that.
Mrs. Worse wakes up exhausted. She’s depression and suspicion and hostility all rolled up into a fat little ball of hidden credit card debt and endless closet-crying sessions.
Mrs. Worse is so overwhelmed trying to measure up that she can’t think straight. She distracts herself with volunteer activities and friends, buried herself in mothering, and ignores anything with a negative tint to it. She takes, and blames, and shuts down.
Mrs. Worse needs medication and prayer and sleep, but Mrs. Worse fights that need with everything she has, which isn’t much.
Mrs. Worse carries some baggage y’all, and girl can hold a grudge.
When my Mrs. Worse finally got some professional help, it was like a demon was being exercised from my heart. Oh she’s still there, kinda like the Dark Phoenix, but most days she’s held at bay; on the days she rages, Caleb’s Mr. Better is in full effect.
For us to function as friends, as husband and wife, as parents, or as a unified any kind of pair, we have to let Christ take His place as the center of our everything. Jesus is what holds us together as a couple and as individuals; we are who He says we are, and the list of our attributes as children of God is long: loved, belonging, cherished, strong.
In Christ, we are better, but Mr. and Mrs. Worse? They are worth every discomfort, every sacrifice; they are worth dying for.