Over the last couple of weeks, the Holy Spirit has led me to put aside many responsibilities that do not include my family, especially my husband, which is one of the hardest things for me to do. I am of the mindset that my husband is a grown man who doesn’t really need me, but will always be there should I ever need him. Besides, I have other things to do.
From the start of our marriage, I spent time and energy focusing on advancing my career by taking on more to manage, therefore putting him on the back burner. Later, after our first child arrived, as if parenting and working full time were not enough, I started a small side business, and literally, had barely the time to give him a peck on the cheek most days. Alright, obviously I did find time for more than a quick kiss, since we produced a second child, but truthfully, intimacy wasn’t usually near the top of my priority list.
After a few years of marriage and parenthood, I started to understand why people get the “itch.” Life becomes more mundane than glamorous. Most couples struggle to just get through a day without crisis; there’s not much time for a meal that does not involve a children’s menu, let alone, for romance. We neglect our marriages because our children demand us more, our coworkers appreciate us more, and our friends affirm us more. So, when an intimate relationship no longer satisfies or meets our needs, should we just move on or realize that all relationships are imperfect and experience rough spots?
On an evening after working long hours away from home, only to work more hours on my side business at home, plus tend to our children, my husband and I had one of the biggest arguments ever. He asked me why I acted like everything else was more important to me than him. My response, “It’s just easier,” came out unintentionally; nonetheless, it was out, and it was the truth. It is easier to simply set him aside, to take him up when I need him, than to daily foster a special, unique husband-wife relationship. That would require some much needed changes in me and that would not be easy for me.
All relationships provide opportunities for personal growth, so after that night I asked God to help ME with my attitude towards my husband and my marriage, which He did by revealing to me that my pride hindered our relationship. You see, I act like I don’t need anyone to help me or to lean on. WRONG — I do need help, but pride keeps me from accepting it. Instead, I often muddle through situations alone while using my husband’s presence to complete my picture of the perfect family. After all, he is a smart, attractive, hard working, family-oriented Believer, so what more does a woman need?
As stated earlier, our love story is not one for romance novels; we are both too practical for that. In fact, we broke up several times while dating, but God planned for us to build a life together, to work with each other and to support each other because when we are on the “same page,” we are a force not to be reckoned with. He knew that we each brought different strengths and weaknesses to the altar, but together, we could be a powerhouse to share the Good News and to further His kingdom.
However, His plan also required me to step back, to let my husband lead, and to let him be, dare I say, “in charge.” HA, I actually hesitated in a very palpable way during my wedding vows before repeating, “to cherish and to OBEY. ” What can I say except that unlike most brides who omit any reference to submitting to their husbands, I vowed before God and a church full of witnesses that I would “obey” my husband. But honestly, most all women struggle with this to some degree.
Oh, God’s plan also required me to face and accept the fact that my husband neither could nor would always fulfill me and provide the type of love I needed, which for me includes a lot of praise and affirmation. For example, I expected him to readily commend me for cleaning the house or losing a few unwanted pounds, to basically show me love the way I show love to others, which is through words. Well, when I began to understand that his love language is different from mine, I began to let go of the anger inside me that came from feeling under appreciated.
Then I began to look to God, who reminded me in His Word that while marriage was meant to glorify Him and show the world His self-sacrificing love for us, my husband was not responsible for satisfying every need of mine or for making me feel entirely complete — only Christ can do that. That said, I must rest in the assurance that my Heavenly Father knows everything about me, yet loves me unconditionally, more than my husband and even more than I love myself (and that’s saying something!). One day I will join Him as His bride in heaven, and that relationship, only that marriage, will be perfect.
To wrap up, the big lesson here is that we must put our spouses at the top of our daily priority list, even when it is easier at the end of a long day to slip into the bedroom to decompress by reading or fall asleep watching NETFLIX — GUILTY! Instead, we must set aside time to chat with our husbands, to ask and to seriously consider their opinions and insights, to encourage them and to allow them to do the same for us.
Often I turn to my mother or girlfriends for input about something, which is fine, but my husband wants to be apart of my life, too, not just a bystander. This may sound crazy, but a few months ago we started praying together in the mornings and evenings, and this has hugely impacted our relationship. Hearing the other’s prayers reveals what is in our hearts, our greatest fears and deepest desires, and this type of intimacy has brought us much closer together.
Nonetheless, marriage takes a lot of hard work and includes many apologies and much forgiveness. Believe me, putting God first and our marriage second by specifically seeking quality time together as a couple is time well spent. In fact, it’s priceless. Time together without phones, TV, children, (when possible), and other unnecessary distractions, makes a world of difference in a relationship because it changes both spouses individually and as a couple.
I pray everyday for my marriage and for my husband, and if your marriage is in limbo or you’re feeling the “itch,” I want you to know that I also pray for all marriages, so be encouraged, stay committed and put first things first — God and next, the husband He’s given you.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.