A Fellow Wife shares her perspective 3 years into her journey to become a godly wife. This is a follow up to Monday’s post about oneness in marriage – that there is a healthy amount of space needed in a godly marriage:
One (personal) thought I have is that closeness with your husband looks and feels a LOT different than I anticipated. Not in a bad way, per se, but just different. It’s almost a closeness that results because of openness, if that makes sense. It’s not a tight knit enmeshed closeness but a more precious one because it’s given so freely. It’s a LOT of letting go and waiting for him to choose to be close to your in his time and his way – both of which will be unique to his personality and preference…BUT that’s my thought about our marriage and our experience.
I LOVE the small ways my husband is showing me he feels safer and how our relationship is evolving. But I also know we still have a LONG way to go. And I have to leave that up to his timing and God’s plan for our relationship.
For me, things started REALLY clicking in place in March when I really got the concept of space. I can kind of look back and see an evolution of my journey:
- Oct 2012 -I realized our marriage was “off” and desperately wanted to fix it and be a godly wife but had no idea how to do so and despite my best attempts, kept falling flat on my face. I went in the absolute opposite direction for awhile! Didn’t know any better!
- Sept 2013 – my husband hurt me by making some selfish choices and I really saw that marriage was not going to be what I had pictured. LOTS of bitterness to wade through but every now and then I would catch a glimmer of what could be in the bright someday future.
- March 2015 – Big blow up where I realized how very little control I truly had and that there were many levels of damage in our marriage on both our parts and we’re both just humans who will fail sometimes.. and that nothing was EVER going to work until we did marriage God’s way – down to the letter. And then… I started getting the concept of space. For me, space was KEY and HUGE to really GETTING respect.
Since that time… goodness, has it really only been 5 short months? Things have changed and shifted in many ways. I still flub, as you know, but can get on track easier and keep my mind focused easier where it needs to be. He is responding differently to me and our relationship is shifting LOTS – some in minor ways, some in major. He’s softening and opening up. I’m relaxing and learning how to be true to my feelings and hold him loosely. And I can see some of his heart- finally… the heart he really has not the one I want him to have. And it’s still good. 🙂
Your post on Separation-Leads-to-Greater Intimacy Paradox was one that I read. And read. And reread. It was one that I knew had some very valuable wisdom in it but it was so hard to wrap my head around for a long time.
I think that talking about what is unhealthy is EXTREMELY important! You have to stop what you’re doing wrong before you can start doing what is right, I think. Just like when we teach our children to share, we have to correct what is wrong – selfishness – before we teach a new step like offering to share. Again – my thoughts. You can’t do right until you know what you’re doing wrong.
For me, it was SO painful to realize that being enmeshed was wrong.
I didn’t even know what the word meant. I had to look it up. It was shocking, upsetting and more to understand I was that. And that it was bad and unhealthy. (For a description of being enmeshed, check out Monday’s post. If I am enmeshed with my husband, I am idolizing him.) I did not like the thought of interdependence. Too much forfeiting “control.” BUT – I came to realize that I had no control (over my husband) and that being vulnerable drew my husband to me. Giving him the opportunity to choose was vulnerable and that’s not an easy concept to accept and come to, either!
Another step for me was turning my thoughts to ME – what did I enjoy?
How did “I” feel individually vs. how I wanted “us” to feel? How did “I” feel about certain issues in our life? I had to learn it was okay to honor myself and my feelings and desires. Not in a push them over on my husband way but in a my feelings matter and they matter enough to be presented in a way that says they’re special and don’t have to be steamrolled to get my way.
Self-care and being kind to myself was another step. I think this step is very important! Time with God really is the most important way to give yourself self-care and if that suffers, we suffer. But I think as women, we also have to learn to treat ourselves with kindness and allow ourselves to enjoy our own personal interests and lives. Then we learn to fill our own needs with God’s help so we don’t drain our men.
Being confident in who we are in God and content in ourselves draws our men to us. And while drawing our men to us, it’s also a way for us to just be happier in our lives at the same time. It’s such a sweet spot – but SUCH a journey!! And not always easy to stay there.
THEN we begin to have real intimacy, I think.
Laura Doyle’s recent book REALLY offered me some wisdom too… these 2 points in particular:
- Asking yourself if something is “on your paper” or your husbands. Realizing where your line/boundary is. Stay on your own paper!!!!
- Honoring your true desire. Another important point is realizing that under every complaint or criticism is a TRUE DESIRE you should honor. Expressing that through saying “I’d like” or “I’d love” or “I want” is a much sweeter, truer-to-yourself way of communicating.
I loved what a reader shared on the post Monday about how intimacy with our husbands is very much like the tide at the beach. Our husbands draw nearer and then they go away. It is easy to get really excited as they draw near and then panic when they pull back. But if we can understand that this is a natural cycle in marriage, many times – I think we can relax and just enjoy when they come close and rest in our husband’s love, knowing that (unless there are major problems), our husbands’ love is pretty constant whether they are currently “emotionally connecting” with us or not. It was very helpful to me to learn that Greg always feels connected with me, unless I disrespected him. I thought we were only “connecting” when we were having deep, emotional or spiritual discussions. What a blessing to know that he always feels connected to me. I began to rest in that – and it has been such a gift!
I read something about parents of a baby with Down’s Syndrome one time – about how being pregnant (thinking they were having a healthy baby) was like planning a trip to Paris, France. But when the baby is unexpectantly born with Down’s, it was like expecting Paris, but being in Holland. At first, a lot of parents grieve. But then, they realize that there are some beautiful things about being in Holland and the ones who decide to enjoy Holland realize they have such a gift in their precious child.
I think that bonding in marriage is a bit like this for many of us as women. (Not that our husbands have Down’s Syndrome – of course – this is an analogy to dealing with our unrealistic expectations.) We had so many Hollywood and Disney expectations going into marriage. But our husbands are not fictional romantic leads in a movie or book who act in feminine ways emotionally. They are real men. We may be bitter at first because we thought we were going to Cinderella’s castle in Disneywold, but we ended up being at a beautiful beach instead. Perhaps, we can decide to be thankful that we are at the beach and enjoy the beautiful sites and explore this amazing place with God and our husbands. 🙂
If some of you are struggling with the opposite problem – please leave a comment and we can have a discussion about that issue, as well. Perhaps we may need a post about that, too – the importance of a wife who tends to be too distant learning to come closer and be more vulnerable when a husband is feeling too much space.