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“Giving Up on My Dream for My Marriage”

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This is from the same wife who wrote to me about not pursuing her husband anymore last week. This is what it looks like to painfully tear out our idols by the root and totally surrender to Christ as LORD of ALL.   Here the idols are control, feeling loved in a certain way and romance.  Thankfully, God will not allow us to find contentment in anything but Christ.  Our idols will always disappoint us! This is what it means to die to self and give Jesus full control of our lives.   THIS is the beginning of living in the power of God.  We must come to the place where we can sincerely say about EVERYTHING in our lives, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”   Each wife’s story and journey will look different. For a follow up on how this wife is doing in September, 2014, please check out her update!
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I started on my journey in seeking to become a godly wife in October of 2012.  My husband and I had a horrible fight that ended with angry words on both of our parts and a lot of hurt feelings.  I remember the term that led me to The Peacefulwife’s website was “how to get your husband to lead” because that was something I wanted and needed desperately.
My husband and I have never really had a bad relationship.  We are both Christians.  We deeply love each other.  We are strong in our commitment to each other.  But things still weren’t on the right balance and it could be felt by both of us and in our home.  We were not where we needed to be to have a godly marriage… and we are still very much in process.
There was no question I was disrespectful. 
  • I rolled my eyes at him.
  • I used a tone.
  • I insulted his income.
  • I said things in front of people that were unkind.
  • I called the shots.
  • I kept him in line.  Although, he wasn’t lining up so great for me

and I am not proud of any of these things.

Ever the do-er, I dove right in to work.  I would fix it!  After all, all I really had to do was stop the disrespectful things, right?
But I did not fully get the depth of what I was doing.  And because of that, I grew overwhelmed.  I was trying all the right steps, why weren’t things happening?  Don’t misunderstand; things did improve somewhat.

But the total renovation that I read about happening to Peacefulwife and other wives who did this was not happening for this girl. 

My heart was truly wanting to do the right thing.  But I hadn’t *hit* where I needed to hit to truly make the change.  It was like I was trying to work a 5000 piece puzzle with only 2000 of the pieces.  Every now and then I would get a glimpse of how beautiful it could be but I didn’t have all the pieces I needed to get that picture.
I was still feeling lonely and neglected by my husband.  He still wasn’t responding to me very well, although I was making lots of practical steps toward respecting him.  I did a lot of things right.  While I didn’t completely stop being disrespectful, I cut a lot of it out.
  • I turned a lot of decisions over to my husband.
  • I tried to focus on building him up.
(From Peacefulwife –  when our husbands don’t change when we start to learn respect and biblical submission, we can get REALLY disappointed.  This is a flag to check our motives.  Our motives HAVE to be ONLY to please God – not to change our husbands.  This can also be a flag to look for deeper layers of unintentional disrespect and control.  It ALL has to go!)
Here I was, trying to be the best wife I could be and I didn’t think he cared at all what kind of husband he was being.  He seemed selfish and tuned out.  Then he made a choice that hurt me very deeply.  Were there worse things that could have happened in our marriage?  Certainly.  But for me, it was the last brick that finally broke down the load I was carrying.  I just could not carry it anymore.  I remember thinking this thought, in my heart for at least a couple of years before I finally hit “My Breaking Point”…

“I am so tired of fighting for him!  I have done nothing but fight for his attention and to be his priority for ALL of our marriage.”

I felt absolutely exhausted from that fight.
  • I had given it my all.
  • I had tried everything to win.
  • I wanted to win.
  • I NEEDED to win.
  • It was VERY, VERY important to me that my husband show me and everyone else in the world how much I mattered to him.

I did not win.

I waved the white flag.

I.  LET.  GO.

Not because I made the mature choice and saw that my behavior was not pleasing to God.  I wish I could tell you that was the reason.  It wasn’t.  That came a bit later.  No.  I let go because it was too painful to try to hold him any longer.  I just hit a point where  I could not fight for him to love me any longer.  He always HAS loved me.  But he hasn’t always loved me in the way that *I* wanted.  Which is what I was fighting for.

This is not something you can just decide to do.  This is something that you have to HIT.

I told my husband this very clearly that

I would no longer try to make him show me how much he cared about me. 

If he didn’t do it from the heart, it didn’t count anyway, did it?  What satisfaction is there in buffaloing your husband into doing something you want him to do when you know deep down that you pushed him into it?
As I let go of him, I thought about what this  truly meant.
  • It meant I would no longer pursue him to get him to pursue me.
  • It meant that the ball was in his court.
  • If he wanted to play ball, I am up for it but I will not make the first move.
  • I handed him control of our relationship.
  • I finally understood what Peacefulwife meant when she said she had to grow content in a season of waiting because this meant I was going to wait on my husband until he was ready to make a moveAnd if he didn’t, we would sit here.
I did this lovingly.
There was directness but no harshness.

 I made a decision that I would continue to meet his needs even if he didn’t mine.  That was not easy because that was unselfish which is not something I was very closely acquainted with.

Although I still had the love of my life, what I did not have was the fantasy marriage (the idol) I wanted and had fought for, for so very long.

I let that fantasy die. 

I cannot tell you it was not painful.  It was, heart wrenchingly so.  In fact, I am crying just thinking about this.  But that fantasy was not good for me.  It only brought me pain. 

Letting go of that fantasy also brought me some good things.  Life giving and healing things.

  • Peacefulness in myself
  • Security regardless of what my husband does or does not do.
  • An ability to see things more clearly.
  • An ability to find God in a totally new way.
  • I got a few more puzzle pieces to work with.

I did not get that when I tried to make him give me what I needed that I was using another form of control.  

In what I am learning about men- and my knowledge is very limited at this point-  the surest way NOT to get what I wanted was to push for it.  

My husband may never choose to meet my needs.

Perhaps he will.

This really isn’t about that at all.

This is about me

  • hitting the point where I could not go on living in such an unhealthy way any longer.
  • saying, “Lord, my husband belongs to you.  You take him and work with Him.  You are far better equipped than I.”
  • realizing how little control I actually had.
  • realizing just how tiny I am and how big God is.  I am just a little ant in his great big world.
  • realizing that although my husband and I are joined by marriage, I do not own him.
  • seeing God show me how much work there is to do in ME.
  • realizing that it is okay to focus on ME and my relationship with God and let my husband have his own process.
For me, this was not a joyful experience.
No.
This was an experience where I had to reach a point where I tearfully, brokenly handed my marriage to God and said,

“Lord, I cannot do this any longer. 

Please take this because it is too heavy for me. 

Take all of my expectations of my husband and

all of my hurts and unfulfilled dreams because

they are too painful to carry any longer. 

I pray someday you bless our marriage with the things

You know I have wanted so desperately

but even if You never, ever do,

I can’t do this without You any longer

I need You to help me.

I need You to do the changing and fixing in our marriage. 

I am not equipped to do it and I am sorry I ever, ever tried. 

I pray You work with both of us. 

And start with me.” 

That was a hard place to be and a hard thing to say.  My heart was so broken accepting that the things I have waited on and wanted so desperately may never be a reality.

  • I had to get to where I could go on EVEN if my worst fears happened. 
  • I had to get to a place where I realized that I never really had any control at all.  At best, what I had was some sinful tools of manipulation and guilt to try to get my way.
  • I had to get to a place where I let go of my husband and got ahold of myself again.  Where I could realize that the only person I could change was myself.
While there are still some hurts in my heart and still some things God and I have left to work through, I can tell you that

This is a much more peaceful way to live.  Trying to control my husband and the outcome of everything in our marriage was exhausting.  Resting in myself and my relationship with God is refreshing.

I do not know what the future holds.  I see some little sprigs of hope springing up.
  • I see my husband beginning to stand taller.
  • I see my husband beginning to search for his wife now that she is not following his every step.

I am hopeful good things are coming.  I have to trust that this is for my ultimate good.  Since I am a child of God I believe that anything that happens to me is FOR my good or He would not allow it.  I felt frustrated and overwhelmed when I first started out to become a godly wife because I didn’t have all of the puzzle pieces yet.  I may not have them all now.  I don’t know.  My puzzle isn’t finished.  But I have more than I did have and the picture is becoming clearer.

Blessings to you.
Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. 
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it.  
Luke 9:23-24
FOLLOW UP:
To see how A Fellow Wife (the author of this post) is doing 3 years into her journey, and what she wishes she could tell herself 3 years ago, check out this post!

27 thoughts on ““Giving Up on My Dream for My Marriage”

    1. An important piece of the puzzle might be uncovered by asking yourself if your new approach of ‘letting go’ is actually yet another attempt to coax or manipulate different behaviors in your husband. Perhaps letting go of all strategies to influence your marriage and your husband, and instead focusing all your attention and your energies on becoming wholly self-sustaining, is the only route to true peace.

      1. Linda,

        We definitely need to always check our motives. It is very easy to deceive ourselves and not realize some of our hidden true motives when we do things. You are right, that is something to be very careful about.

        I know for me, I had to accept my husband exactly as he was and stop trying to change him at all. The key for me was to focus totally on Christ and to find all of my identity, purpose, contentment, strength, acceptance, love, peace and joy in Jesus alone.

        Thanks for the comment!

  1. What a road this wife is walking and the wisdom she is gaining. We all want our fantasy lives, its the little girl growing up to the big wedding with all the frills, flowers, the prince charming on the white horse and the happily ever after. But reality can be just as enjoyable when we understand that our earthly lives are a Work-In-Progress and we learn submission first to our heavenly Father, how to let go, where the real peace is, that quick to listen still means we wait on the answers and hold our tongues. But that also means we have to fight the giants in the quietness at times because I promise you the enemy is mimicing the lion in his roaring seeking to kill, steal, destroy, divide – whatever. But we definitely have the Power to resist and declare that No Weapon Formed Against me and mine will prosper. That does not mean we won’t feel the pricks of the arrows, the bruises of the stones, the heartbreak of the words – but it does mean we trust God to add more than the bandaid and healing salve of his Grace and Love where the need is. This young wife is learning such valuable lessons early on and that in her love, her respect, her humbleness, she is a Powerful Woman of God. Many blessings and prayers to her as she continues holding on to the hand of Christ. The victory is assured even when the battles are daily when we place our trust in our Heavenly Father.

  2. Good good good. I can relate and I’m in the same place and all I can say is this is very good. Peace and blessings to you on this beautiful journey of developing your relationship with Christ.

  3. Shane!!!!!!

    I was thinking of you and praying for you this week my beautiful sister! 🙂

    I am so glad to hear from you!!!!

    Thank you for the recommendation. I appreciate it very much. It sounds perfect.

    Much love to you, my friend!

  4. Yas,

    I am so glad to hear from you! 🙂

    I am really glad that you are putting some new, more healthy, more God and husband honoring habits into practice.

    YES.

    IT IS VERY HARD.

    This stuff goes totally against our sin nature and totally against our feminine human perspective and totally against our culture.

    Yes before marriage, we don’t actually have to depend on our men for much. After marriage, we are in the same boat – and if they sink, we sink. It becomes a whole new ball game!

    The wife who wrote this email to me for the post today said the same thing to me so many times. “Why hasn’t my husband said anything about all the changes I am making? Doesn’t he notice?”

    Men DO notice the changes.

    They just don’t know what the changes mean. They are skeptical that this won’t last. They feel like they are getting set up again to be blasted if they don’t respond the right way. And they are waiting to see if the changes are permanent. They are probably confused. But the will almost never say anything.

    That is totally fine!

    You are not doing this for your husband. You are ultimately doing these things only to honor Christ and please him – and to bless your husband. Not to get specific results from him.

    This is a LONG, LONG process. You will overcorrect one way sometimes, and then swing back too far the other way as you figure out where the balance is.

    I’m here if you want to talk more!

    You don’t have to walk this road alone.

    Much love,

    1. Yas,

      Being full of God’s Spirit always brings peace. That is my prayer for wives, that they will abide in Christ, desire to know Him more and more and desire to bring Him glory above all else. 🙂

      I know He can give you His Spirit as you learn to die to self and submit to Him.

      Plaese search my home page for “Marriage Books” – and you will find the post I have with my list. 🙂

  5. Lilyanna1,

    YES! There are many times when being a godly woman is extremely hard and excruciatingly painful. We all marry sinful men – so we will all be sinned against. But the closer a husband is to Christ, yes, generally, the easier things are. But there are still MANY trials, misunderstandings and we still cannot make them or our feelings into idols we cherish more than Christ or we will have this exact situation, even with a very godly husband.

    There are precious few genuinely godly men around.

    I’m excited for you about your potential suitor. That is wonderful! 🙂

  6. I read this and my heart and spirit sing “Yes! Face these fears, let him go, and find your peace in Christ.”
    Like this wonderful wife, I too started my “peaceful” walk in fall of 2012.
    I have done absolutely everything to try and get my husband to act the way, and love me the way I *feel* I should be loved. And like this wife, my husband does love me, but it’s not my fantasy of what I expect my marriage to be, and that has been heartbreaking for me to come to terms with.

    I have tried (and failed) so many times to give up that control, to stop ‘expecting’ from my husband the perfect love that I KNOW in my heart, I can only get through Christ.

    These experiences, over the last few days has just been really working on my heart – my husband and I are in a tough place, we are in therapy and wanting to make our marriage a healthier one, but I so often feel like my own worst enemy.

    “I will love you so much, and cling to you, and suffocate you, and nag you, and parent you, and make you do what I want, when I want, how I want, until death do us part.”

    My heart understands what to do, my brain understands why I need to do this, but my fleshly, sinful spirit just clings to control like a filthy rag.

    You have no idea how much these stories mean to me, they encourage, convict and give me strength when I cannot find it within myself.

    Thank you so much.
    ~ PetiteFoi

    1. PetitFoi,

      Ooh! This is really powerful:

      “I will love you so much, and cling to you, and suffocate you, and nag you, and parent you, and make you do what I want, when I want, how I want, until death do us part.”

      I may have to see if I can quote you on that one! It makes things pretty clear when you spell it out like that, doesn’t it?

      I was the same way. 🙁

      I actually expected my husband AND God to submit to ME. I would NEVER have thought that in those words or spoken it like that. But that is exactly what I expected:

      Total, unquestioning submission to my will all the time.

      I was always “right,” after all!

      I made so many demands of Greg and of God. Neither of them answered me. They both “shut down.” God would not hear my prayers when I had a heart full of such idolatry, wicked PRIDE, self-righteousness, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, contempt…

      THANK GOD that He did not give me what I wanted then!

      THANK GOD that my husband did not cave and do what I wanted back then!

      I was SO WRONG.

      God won’t let me find peace and contentment in idolizing myself or making an idol of my marriage or my husband or of romance or of feeling loved.

      He is SO GOOD that He will only allow me to find satisfaction and contentment and true treasure in Himself alone.

      He is all I need!

      I’m so glad these stories are helping you. God has been doing some MIGHTY stuff in the past week or so in so many wives’ lives. I can’t help but praise and thank Him!

  7. I’m in the same place now…. Waiting for him.. Waiting for him to call/ text. This is hard!! Keeping my mind focused on His word and this blog! Thank u for God revealing my control in this area. and please pray for me in this process.

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