I few weeks ago, I read a very powerful daily devotional for married women that hit close to home. Two days ago, I read another daily devotional for married women that not only hit close to home, it also slapped me in the face. Like most women who have been married for over five years, I fell into a rut with my spouse, Robert. Sadly, Robert and I became too “comfortable” with going about our day, and it seemed all too necessary to us because of the busy schedules we have as a family. Between my working full-time, him being a full-time/stay-at-home dad, the boys multiple therapy sessions for speech, behavior, and occupational skills for Autism Spectrum Disorder, my writing career, church and ministry commitments, and spending time together as a family (phew), it all seemed to happen as routine in robotic fashion.
At some point, perhaps at the seven-year mark of our marriage, I began to resent my spouse for our lack of time together just being an intimate couple like we did when we first married. I started to become more critical of him and even began looking for things I didn’t like about him. What used to be quirks and mannerisms I tolerated in our honeymoon phase of the marriage, turned into points of irritation and bones of contention soon after the boys began elementary school. I found myself raising my voice, and Robert would match me in elevating his voice too. I began to wonder why I even married Robert in the first place. Fighting with my husband had become an everyday occurrence.
Even worse than the fighting was the negative self-talk I kept hearing in my head. You may have heard these lies too:
“I married the wrong person.”
“He should make me feel loved and cherished.”
“There has to be someone better out there for me.”
This self-talk and these arguments were eating away at my heart and my spirit. It wasn’t until I received some sound advice from a married couple whose marriage and family life I wished I could emulate. My friends Rick and Elva sat with me one night as I poured out my heartbreak over a very bad decision my husband made about our sons’ therapies. It turned into a two-hour venting session over dinner. At the end of it all my tears and complaints, this lovely couple simply asked me if I felt I could live life without him and the boys. They didn’t wait for me to answer, but asked the next question – could I imagine life as a single person again, except with my two children? Rick told me not to answer it right away, and the couple asked me to pray about it and search Scripture for guidance on how to live my married life. I mentioned the two devotionals at the beginning of my blog. Let me explain why these two devotionals were so powerful.
The first devotional pointed out something I had never thought of before. In that devotional, it simply restated my marriage vows, and applied it to a very popular Biblical verse found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (see the Scripture verse at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13%3A4-8&version=NABRE). The final line of that verse begins with “Love never fails.” I truly love my husband… faults and all. But I also realized as I read that devotional and the matching Bible verses that I had not lived MY end of the marriage. I had not been patient. I had not been kind. I certainly didn’t seem willing to bear or hope all things with Robert. The devotional stated that instead of fighting with my husband, I should try fighting FOR my husband. Robert is in this marriage just as much as I am, and we are partners and mates until the end. That being said, I have to defend that sacred union called marriage, which means being FOR our marriage and our relationship and not an outsider looking to criticize it.
The second devotional pointed out something I had wrongly told myself. I had believed in the very lies I had been hearing in my head whenever I was unhappy with something Robert did. I had blinded myself by only seeing faults in Robert, without seeing my own faults in all of our arguments. I had begun to believe that love was hard. The quote that slapped me in the face in that devotional was “Love isn’t a feeling; it’s a decision.” In wallowing in my discontent and being angered by what I considered to be huge disappointments, I’d forgotten that I had to CHOOSE to love my spouse in spite of it all. If I truly was choosing to be the kind of wife I needed to be for Robert, the qualities I wished to exhibit would emerge eventually. I had to CHOOSE to be kind. I had to CHOOSE to be patient. I had to CHOOSE that my love for Robert would persevere.
I went back and told my married friends about my self-discovery through these devotionals, and they simply told me to be patient with the changes. They reminded me that it would not happen overnight, and that it would not be evident right away. Over the next few weeks of doing my best to live this decision to choose to fight FOR Robert and our marriage and our family, and the decision to choose to love him as he is and where he is, I noticed that a change did slowly begin to happen. However, it was a change in ME.
As the changes in my attitude and outlook on our marriage started to take place, I noticed my husband was calmer and more gentle around me and toward me. It was amazing how much more our children were calm when my husband and I were kinder to one another. Even more so, Robert began to seek out physical affection by way of kissing me when I got home from work, holding my hand when we walked as a family, and wrapping his arms around me when we sat on the couch and watched our kids play. These may seem little to other couples, but to me (and to Robert too, I’m sure) these were huge steps. By starting that change in me, Robert, my husband, my partner, my lover, and my life companion was also making a change. He was also choosing me, and choosing to love me. We chose to fight FOR our marriage by choosing to LOVE once again.
If someone were to ask me if I ever won a fight, I could comfortably say, “I’m winning the fight right now.” I have decided to fight like a married woman by choosing love as my guiding principle.
How do YOU fight for the ones you love? Comment in the space provided.
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