Guest post by A Fellow Wife – as if she could write her 2012 self a letter from August of 2015. Not everything she writes to her old self will apply in every wife’s situation, but maybe some of it will be a blessing to other wives who are on this journey – seeking to become godly wives:
Dear Me 3 Years Ago,
You’re about to embark on a very personal, deep, emotional and exciting journey. All your thoughts about marriage, men, relationships and even yourself are about to change. There are some things I’d like to tell you about the road ahead in hopes it could make things easier for you.
This’s a lifelong process. You will not arrive or graduate. Therefore, be patient with yourself. It’s okay if you aren’t perfect. You’re safe with a man that loves you and will be grateful for your efforts so don’t beat yourself up on bad days. Just try again tomorrow.
Men are a completely different species. They aren’t just a different gender. They think differently, feel differently and have so many differences. Understanding that they are a different tribe of people with their own customs and ways of life is vital. Approach this discovery with curiosity, with the attitude of being willing to learn and accept the differences even when you don’t feel their way is best. You misinterpret him a lot so you need to learn to be open to listening to what he’s saying to you through both word and action. He will also show his love for you in different ways than you may be expecting because he’s from the male culture. That’s okay. Learn to embrace and appreciate those ways he shows his love for you.
The thought of ‘being one’ with your husband is a beautiful thought but it’s really tripping you up. Yes, the goal is to become one. But first you need to realize you are two separate individuals and work on yourself, the only person you can work on, and allow your husband, and God, set the pace of becoming one. That’s the result at the end of the road of marriage, not the beginning or the middle.
That being said, it’s painful to disentangle yourself from your husband’s choices, thoughts, decisions and responsibilities. You have to learn where he begins and you end. It’s not easy and there’s a level of hurt you have to work through. That’s okay because it can really be a sweet, tender thing when you begin to understand this.
Men like space and some distance and this is actually one way to showing respect. I’m still not well-equipped to advise you on all forms of disrespect because 3 years in, I’m still learning this part. However, I have learned that in many ways, space equals respect to men. I want to say it again because it’s so important and is the major breakthrough moment you’re going to have in getting all of this. Space = Respect. That’s the important mathematical equation that’s key to marriage. Men like space to think, be and most of all, pursue and love their wives in their own way and time. When you infringe on that, you’re robbing both him and yourself from some beautiful blessings. (From Peacefulwife – A Fellow Wife used to pursue her husband in unhealthy ways. There are some husbands who may want their wives to draw closer to them – how a wife approaches this issue depends on the dynamics in her particular marriage.)
In order to give him space, get busy in your own life. Read, study about marriage, pursue your passions and hobbies, and breathe. Treat yourself with kindness and grace, both now and forever going forward. After all, you’re only human and you’re doing the best you can.
And he’s only human. He will hurt your feelings sometimes because of this. This is where you can learn about selflessness and forgiveness. And appreciating his forgiveness when you’re imperfect and mess up.
When you’ve been hurt or you’re angry, the best way to handle this with your husband is tell him you’re upset and why in a few short sentences and then again, give him space to wrestle this out in his mind and get back to you when he’s ready to address it. This works MIRACULOUSLY for your husband! But you’ll really struggle learn this and forget to handle confrontation this way many times. In 3 years, you’re still going to be working on this. You’re getting it about 2 out of every 5 times at this stage in the game and that’s okay. 2 is better than 0 and you’re going to do better in the future years to come. You’re learning.
One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to start a gratitude journal and use it daily. It doesn’t have to take a lot of your day. Simply make a decision to write down one thing you appreciate about your husband each day – just one or two sentences. This takes minutes and that payoff is HUGE…When you’re feeling angry, frustrated, neglected or unloved, go back to your journal and read your entries. You’ll suddenly remember and realize how loved you are.
And by the way, don’t doubt that your husband does love you. Very much. He just shows it differently and sometimes doesn’t know how to show it. TRUST HIS HEART when it comes to you. Men love in a way that’s more ‘loose’ than women do, for lack of a better term. There needs to be some steps of space between you for him to love you best. Just because he loves differently doesn’t mean it’s not love. Do not let that thought take root in your mind. His love is deep, devoted, and strong for you. He’s also protective of you but this will also look differently than you imagined which is okay, too. Be willing to put some glasses on to correct your vision here if necessary. Look for the ‘male’ expressions of love, devotion, and protection.
You’re going to have to work on trusting him more. Trust him by backing away from his decisions and respect his boundaries as a person. Many times, he’ll deliver more beautifully than you dreamed. See what you’ve been cheating yourself out of by overstepping boundaries?
Realize that you have injuries and scars from your upbringing that have nothing to do with him. The picture you have of marriage is skewed and twisted because you did not have a good example. That’s not your fault at all. But you are responsible for realizing this and learning what God wants marriage to truly be. Learn as much as you can about godly marriage and God’s instructions for you as a wife.
Lastly, RELAX. Learning all of this can feel overwhelming and cause you anxiety. Let those feelings be a reminder to have faith in yourself, faith in your husband and faith in God’s plan for your marriage.
And 3 years from now, you’re going to still have a long way to go. But you’ve came a long way already. It really is a beautiful ride.
Present Day Me