Monday, October 14, 2019

What I learned in 8 years of marriage

I can't believe I have been married eight years! It feels like yesterday.

I have grown to love my husband more every day and appreciate him more and more. We now have two beautiful children and will begin homeschooling officially next year.

Marriage has been all I ever dreamed of and more. Every day I learn something about my husband—small things, like how the winkles around his eyes crinkle when he looks at me, or how cared and loved I feel when he does the dishes without asking. I love to watch him play with our wild kids in the evening when I am worn out. I look over the top of my book usually, as I rest on the couch as he romps around with Reuben and Rebekah on the floor.

I was thinking this past week that there is one big thing I have learned thus far in marriage. I didn't go into marriage with this, it came slowly. In fact, my expectations lay the opposite direction.

I went into marriage thinking that my spouse would be the best version of himself. In the past when he did something I perceived as wrong or if I saw sin in his life, I would be angry at him. His sins used to make me feel unloved, or not cared for. I would say things like “why did you do _______ don't you love me?” As if his love for me would keep him on the right track.

I don't think this way at all anymore.

I married a sinful man. I am a struggling, sinful woman (saved by grace) who married another struggling sinful man. We will struggle with sin the rest of our lives, and I—as my husband's wife—get an intimate view of not only my own sins now, but my spouse's as well.

I went into marriage expecting not to see his sins. I thought he would be on his best behavior all the time for me because that is what he was when we were dating. Now, after eight years of marriage I am not surprised when I find out my husband is struggling. I am no longer angry when he disobeys one of God's commandments. I expect it, actually. Yes. I expect my husband to sin.

We are fallen humans who will struggle with sin all our lives while we are here on this earth. My role, now, as Brian's wife isn't to get angry or point fingers at him when he does something wrong. My job is to come alongside him, uplift him spiritually, pray for him, counsel him—but most of all love him. Love him because that is what he needs as he personally struggles with his own sin against God.

Please note I am not talking about out of control, non-confessed sin in his life, or ongoing abuse situations. My husband is not systematically abusive. I am so thankful to have a safe marriage. If you are in an unsafe or abusive marriage, by all means I am not telling you to love your husband as he beats you. I would tell that woman to love her husband by not allowing him to hurt her or others.

Now when my husband sins or I see what I would deem a “personal failing” in his life, I support him instead of getting angry. I realize he is human and he is struggling. I recognize my own struggles as I see him struggle, and I become his biggest cheerleader. I no longer feel like he doesn't love me or care about me when he is disobeying God. I know he does love me, fiercely so. But his inward battle in his heart will never be over until he joins the kingdom of God. He is broken. I am broken.

My husband already has God telling him what he should and should not do. He doesn't need another person like me, his wife, to reiterate what God has already said. He needs another person there holding his hand, praying for him, and not leaving his side so that we can traverse together.

Thus we cling to God and try to make it through. I am here as another oarsman rowing in my husband's boat—our boat now, our marriage boat—trying to make it intact as we sail the storms and skirt the mirages that the open sea throws at us. I see us in a tiny vessel, barely big enough to hold our family, sailing the wide ocean with our lantern of God's light gleaming on the masts. One day we will make it home to heaven, but until then—expect dangerous waters. Expect sharks and leaky afts and thunderstorms.

Try to row with the man you married, not against him.

The war with own own flesh as we battle God's commands is a deeply personal one. I have had my husband try and help me with addictions in my own life and he was not able to. I had to meet those sins head on and only I, with God, can change myself. But my husband was there. He was cheering me on, letting me know he loved me even when I failed.

If my husband is a God-given lifeboat in this world, I want to be the same for him.

If we are going to struggle, lets struggle together.