Confession #2:The reality of my marriage looks nothing like Cinderella (except for the handsome guy who took no shame in chasing after me.)
I never thought in depth about my wedding or what marriage would be like as a kid. I’m sure I used the curtains in the living room as a pretend veil every once in a blue moon but I was more concerned about why everyone in my middle school thought my blue eye shadow looked so much like this gal:
Though they probably weren’t far off and I finally realized that less is more, I still had my sights set on generally anything other than marriage.
Note: I didn’t say men. The background I have in Psychology and from my education in general tells me enough about why I am the way I am, though I have no clear cut rationale for all the stock I put in validation from men. Any man. Any boy, really. Crushes fluctuated like my weight (which was frequent) and my identity with it.
Guy A liked vodka and talked to me? Great, I could tolerate being around the stuff.And then drinking it. And then drinking too much of it. And then putting myself in situations that should have surely made me a statistic.
(Thank You, dear sweet Jesus for saving me from my choices…)
Guys B-F were into politics and current events? Bring it. I got my information from Fox News. I could surely hang with anyone with any opinion and hold my ground. (Heavy on the sarcasm, here.) I cared about what was going on around me, though most of the time that was anything but the best for me. My reality that I cared deeply about Abercrombie and Fitch and the Boys and Girls Club quickly shone more brightly than my concern with whether or not Obama won his first term and being a little too certain that my vote for McCain in 2008 would make any difference.
Guys G-I had never cut the cord from their family? Sweet. I like family. Love family actually. But also had margin in my life. Margin to party and nearly fail a college class or three, but margin nevertheless. Heck I even had margin to go to a mid week Bible study and church on Sunday. I didn’t apply a lick of what I learned, and though the conviction in my heart was great I still loved myself, the world, and it’s temporal pleasures much more than choosing to change the playground I played in.
I spent much of my college life dating and eventually being engaged (twice) to the same guy. A nice guy, nothing necessarily wrong with him, just, not enough right about him for me to care enough to be kind, faithful, or otherwise a good person. The stress of the relationship and all that came with it created such anxiety in me that I spent several hours in emergency rooms with “heart attacks.” After many years of reflection on that failed relationship (and thank You, again, dear sweet Jesus for saving me from another bad choice…) I concluded that my apathy toward my then-fiance and the Lord above was a recipe for disaster that ended in thousands of dollars in medical bills and compounding shame and guilt. My desire to have a wedding far outweighed my desire to marry this guy-all I wanted was a big party and a fun dress and then everything would work out because we’d have a ceremony that would bring rainbows and sunshine mixed with fidelity and love. So naive, I was.
All this to say, my experience in relationships was more about fitting the mold I thought was desired of me, my beliefs about weddings was that they were the cure for a relationship that would never work, and my view of my self was both inaccurate and damaging.
My super hot better half and I met while I was still in high school. Thinking I had any business whatsoever at a fraternity party of a coworker from The Buckle-because The Buckle was basically the coolest place ever in 2004- is beyond me. But I went. And met Chris. And went home. A proud, cocky, more “manly” guy that I’d ever encountered in the school halls between 8-3 pursued me while I became both intimidated and deeply uninterested. His pride was off putting but there was no denying he wasn’t good looking.
Clearly I had a clear view of what matters in a relationship.
We went our separate ways, crossing paths a few times before I moved to Lawrence for college and we both began “serious” relationships with other people. After being engaged, again, I finally realized it was time to do the only sane thing one does when they are in their fourth year of college- I moved back in with my parents. And was unemployed. Driving a car without air conditioner. Y’all I was a catch! Much longer and I’d surely have ended up asking to make bunk beds Will Ferrell style and having my best friend move in so we could hang out in a tree fort.
We reunited, were engaged six weeks later, and married four months after that. I didn’t care about the dress or the catering, I just wanted to be with this man who had informed me we were “equally yoked” and went to church with me every week.
That’s cake. In mah face. All up in it.
We were married nearly five years ago at his grandpa’s church over Spring Break in my fourth year of college. I quickly realized I had married a man addicted to video games and seriously independent. My control reared its head in many ways, most notably by informing him on no less than a dozen occasions that he stayed up too late and “I didn’t get married to go to bed alone” or throwing a pillow at his computer and turning off his game when he stayed up later than I found appropriate for my 25 year old husband. I found coping with my marital frustrations was best done by threatening to leave, packing my things, and stomping through the house “forgetting to pack” something until he’d talk to me. Once he helped me pack. Only once. My anger came out in cursing, yelling and the like and then crying because I had no idea how to control this other person.
Clearly I was mature. He thought I was a lunatic. I think he was right.
A lot has happened over the last five years and though we usually don’t go to bed at the same time I’m convinced that my husband is aware of when he’s tired and can choose his own bedtime. His video game addiction eventually became a hobby and has now become a non-existent part of his life. We dove in deeply to a church where we live and have been transformed ever so much by the grace and love of Jesus.
I finished a recovery program over a year ago and finally recognized the depth of my insecurities, my anger and control issues, and overall lifestyle of thinking I can do this thing called marriage without the Lord.
The root of the baggage I bring to my marriage falls mostly in the category of not knowing (or believing) who I am in Christ. Some days I think I need to have a spotless house, 15% body fat, dinner with home made rolls ready on the table by 5:45, and anticipate my husband’s every desire. Most days I hold a deep sense of entitlement, putting off housework, and spend my time in Elizabeth Land where dollars are endless and calories are empty. Not only does this not show love to my husband but it’s an even more significant sign to the Lord that I think I’ve got it all figured out.
Romans 6:18 –You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
My choice to die daily to myself, love Christ first, and then my husband is constantly a struggle. I am so encouraged by this verse because though I will continue to fail, I’m not defined by it. I will yell at my husband, I will make him feel unloved and unappreciated, but by the grace of God I can make amends, have these “wife fails” happen less severely and frequently, and be thankful that I’m forgiven for my sin by both my God and my husband.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I may desire to try to fit the image of what I think Chris wants me to be. In fact I do it frequently and in those moments let him down. He wants to see me dance like a silly to some NSYNC or Pentatonix without being afraid of his judgement. He wants me to share my hopes and anxieties though I do my best to share those with anyone but him. I’ve found the more frequently I share my intimate thoughts with my girlfriends the more I grow that relationship and create a rift in my marriage. Sure, Chris doesn’t care about Louboutin’s or what so and so’s kid did at playgroup that was so awesome, but he does care to know that I’m fearful about how I’m parenting K, and when I’m struggling in my walk with Christ. In order to be reconciled to God I have to first realize I’ve done something that’s not ideal, confess it, ask for forgiveness, and move on. Dwelling in my failures only allows room for Satan to get a grip and drag me down to a pit of fear and sadness I have no desire to be in.
Ephesians 5:22-24- Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> as you do to the Lord.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> in everything.
Ah, submission. Now’s when I tell you that Chris is the home dictator, we all say “yes sir and no sir” and rub his feet to his heart’s content. He chooses our clothes, tells me what we meals we need to have, and gives me $5 in cash each week to “have fun with.”
The concept of submission, both in the Bible, and in our home is not an issue of control. If I know that my husband is walking intimately with the Lord and has a request of me it’s much easier to submit, or agree, than if I see him coming from a place of selfish ambition. Trusting my husband knows what’s best for our family, be it what church we go to, where we live, how we steward our money, etc, takes work on my part but I’m richly blessed by my ability to validate and love my husband well. All topics are on the table for discussion. We’re a team. I provide input, he values it. We work. It works. God created it that way. In areas I am weak, Chris is strong. I’m able to relinquish control and let my husband lead our family in the way I believe God intended it to be. My council is valid and his reception to my thoughts and challenges is what not only builds our relationship but also models to our daughter that her parents are a team and her Mama can still be a strong woman of her own opinions and beliefs while still respecting her Daddy as the leader in their home.
This area has been a struggle for me but I’m celebrating with much enthusiasm that through my own dedication in chasing after the Lord there has been leaps and bounds of progress.
Sure, my marriage is full of areas that need improvement. In fact I can’t think of an area that doesn’t. We’ll never love each other perfectly, we’ll speak harshly and we’ll make decisions needing forgiving. However, the commitment we have to Christ and to each other allows our story to continue. Though this relationship is nothing I would have ever imagined I’d be in as a child, blue eye shadow, insecurity, and all, I am so thankful that Christ has allowed me to live my life with my husband who is not a Prince Charming but a real person who I am infinitely appreciative of.