Howdy, All! One thing you may notice is that my writing style differs quite a bit from Jen’s. Well, variety is the spice of life, right? Don’t let it throw you though. Dive right in.
If I can sum up the second chapter in one phrase, it is simply this: “Don’t be a selfish a**hole.” I know that sounds like an easy thing to accomplish, but then why do we all seem to struggle with it?
We all come into our marriages with our own histories, experiences, prejudices, etc. After the initial honeymoon period, our spouses begin to notice our baggage and we begin to notice theirs. It might be something small thing like, “Why does she have to drink from the faucet? Can’t she get a glass?” or “Does he really have to yawn and sneeze so loudly?” Or, the subject can be more major like “Why does he yell at me for making the smallest mistake?” and “Will she always be this suspicious and questioning of my motivations?”
The reality is our actions are often a response to own existing wounds. These wounds are received as we grow and mature in this broken world. Our reactions to them are the conditioned response from years of feeling, or more than likely, of repressing the hurt and pain from the experiences that caused them. Verbal, physical, and/or emotional abuse are the prime culprits of these wounds, but they can also come from a variety of other sources.
Our world is not safe. It tests us. It tests our relationships, especially our marriages.
So what are we to do? The Bible says, “And the two shall become one flesh,” but how do you become one when your wounds continually cause you to want to advocate for self and self alone? How do you recognize your spouse as an essential part of yourself?
It starts by getting to know him/her. Really know. What does she love (besides, you of course)? What frightens him? Who does she want to be? What are his hopes? Her dreams? In order to do this effectively, you have to pursue your mate. Choose her. Desire him. This means considering him/her before yourself.
Let me give you an example. It had been a long week at work. Morning to night filled meetings, frustrating arguments, and just plain busyness. All I wanted to do was to go to my room (no, I really do have one) and play video games. However, this would isolate me from the one person who truly wanted to be with me and help—Jen. I could tell that it hurt her when I expressed my desire to escape into my alternate reality. What she was expecting to hear was I desired her—her comfort, her love, her encouragement. She wanted me to want to spend time with her. To share her day with me, as well. As you can imagine, a very intense conversation ensued.
According to Ransomed Heart, men and women each have a question—a fundamental question that must be answered. The man’s question is “Do I have what it takes?” The woman’s question is “Will I be chosen?” Ultimately, these questions can only truly be answered by God but knowing this, you can see why my choice hurt Jen so much. I missed the opportunity to choose her over my own selfish desires. In addition, I also denied her the opportunity to speak life into me and tell me “Yes. You DO have what it takes. You’re an incredible husband and father,” which is what I really wanted.
What we have to do even in the midst of our own pain and suffering is to look at our spouse and love them, even when he/she acts unlovable. Try it. Take a moment to breathe, pray, ask God how you can love your spouse and allow Him to pour into you and fill you and your marriage.