Today in home school, my ten year old daughter, after reading aloud about the Revolutionary War, announced, “The British were stupid! They wore red hats and red coats and lined up…SO dumb!”
“Some might say instead that the Americans cheated,” I replied.
“That’s how you win at war,” said one of my teen boys.
“Some would say there are still rules to follow, that some things are immoral, unethical, even in war,” I said.
An interesting discussion ensued.
What also occurred to me later, in one of those blindingly obvious, “How’d I miss that?” ways, was the thought that there’s always TWO sides to every story.
In Daughters of Sarah® on Sunday, many of the women came to the realization that they have husbands who are also hurting, but don’t know what to do. The neat thing is that these women are more equipped to take action and make changes in the way they interact such that their marriages will improve.
In contrast, yesterday, I received an email from someone who is separated from her husband, and she’s filed for divorce. The laundry list of wrongs he has committed against her poured across the page like lava…I could nearly feel the heat. Yes, he argued with her frequently; Yes, he seldom showed affection; Yes, he yelled at their kids, Yes, he was in a job well under his abilities; Yes, he didn’t do work around the house… on and on it went.
But what she saw and what I saw were two different things. She saw a righteous and near-perfect individual in herself, and an enemy to be conquered or punished in her husband. I saw a couple where both people were hurting. His anger and her resentment both cover disappointment and hurt. I know her well enough to have witnessed the scathing looks, cutting remarks, and “I’ll show him!” attitude hurled his way from her for years. Neither of them know how to stop hurting each other on purpose (even in defense). And neither one of them know and/or love and/or trust God enough to humble themselves, so that He can lift them (and their marriage) up.
That’s the work of the Spirit.
We too often forget that when we injure our spouse, we are injuring ourselves, because the “two have become one flesh.”
I’ve also learned over the years a couple of really important things in marriage. Things that I believe, if I had known years ago, would have kept us from years of pain and isolation under the same roof. Here are a few of those things, one of them, shared with me by a dear friend just last night…
- Just like your husband, neither of you get the spouse you want, instead you get the spouse you need. It starts off with you thinking you want this person, but after a while, after you really know each other well, the novelty and politeness wear off and we’re left with the challenge of living in close proximity with another human being. This is difficult. Marriage brings to life all of our faults in a way no other relationship does. Not getting along? Guess what…those irritations and difficulties are there, allowed by God, btw, to grow both of you. Think of it like this – you are a rough piece of wood. Your spouse is sandpaper. It’s abrasive and even damaging to become smooth, but when s/he grinds across you, it pulls up the grain and makes something beautiful. If you’re not into woodworking, just trust Him on that one. Read “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas to get clarity on this concept.
- Just like anything else, you can choose to disobey God and blame your spouse for the death of your relationship, but the issues you might not even be aware of within yourself will still be there. Know that if you do this, you are doing something God is on record as hating (divorce). Know also that wherever you go, there you will always be – in other words, the same character issues you have now will show up in the next relationship, guaranteed, and these things will still cause difficulties in your current relationships, regardless. Second and third marriages have even greater chances of failing than the first one does. You teach your kids that some things are forever, even if they are hard. They can have confidence in being able to rely on something in this world. Psychologists tell us this is a good thing.
- One can always tell the state of our relationship with God by how quick we are to 1) recognize another’s pain, and 2) apologize for causing another pain, even when we also could be hurting. The completely selfish of us (and I have been like this and am still FAR too selfish) seldom even recognize their spouse’s feelings, continually blaming the other for the state of the relationship. Think of Jesus on the cross in the latter moments, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do…” Do you want your spouse forgiven or do you want him to fry? Just sayin’.
- No program, no matter how good (including Daughters of Sarah or The Respect Dare), will fix your marriage. Only God can do that, and only He can do that through your willing heart and in His perfect timing. I know that may sound strange coming from someone whose work it is to deliver courses that equip women to improve their marriages, but really, we spend all our time encouraging women to work out relationship with God. And even though that is our focus, we still can’t fix your marriage. Only God can do that through your willing heart.
Each day, moment to moment, we’re given a choice… to obey His Word, focusing on our sin, our opportunities, our obedience – or to judge and point fingers at others.
We are clearly told by God NOT to issue judgment. It doesn’t ever work.
ONLY when we lay our will at His feel do we experience the benefits of relationship with Him.
And that changes everything.
Glad to be on the journey with you.
Love to you,