“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!

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

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Idolatry is not something we think much about in our modern day, Western culture.  I grew up in church, reading the Bible, knowing how offensive idolatry was to God – feeling super smug and secure because I didn’t commit sins like THAT!  What could possibly be tempting about bowing down to a statue and serving it and praying to it as if it could hear or help me one iota?

Yep.

I was SO thankful I wasn’t a big sinner like THOSE people.

Then, 4 years ago or so, God opened my eyes to the idolatry, pride, rebellion, unforgiveness and sin in my life.

WOW.

Turns out, I was committing idolatry every waking moment of every single day since I was little.  I just didn’t know it.

WHAT IS AN IDOL?

  • anything that we cherish more than Christ in our hearts.
  • anything that we believe we MUST HAVE to be happy – that isn’t Christ.
  • something other than God that I use to get my identity from – or the thing/person/concept from which I try to find my fulfillment.
  • something I spend a great deal of time investing in, focusing on, relying on and putting all my trust in – that is not Christ.
  • something I am willing to give up my family or relationships for, maybe I am willing to spend almost any amount of money to serve that person/thing/idea.  I will serve my idol no matter what it costs me.
  • I will try to find my contentment in my idol.  But it will never satisfy – I am always left empty, broken and wanting more.
  • it is often the opposite of what I fear most.

IDOLATRY IS HUGE SIN!

God will never allow me to find contentment in an idol.

He will only allow me to find contentment in Christ Jesus.

Idolatry is breaking the first commandment in Exodus 20 “You shall have no other gods before me” as well as the greatest command Jesus talks about “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

To Him, it is me breaking my covenant with Him – like I am committing adultery against Him by serving/worshipping/putting my faith in these other things.  God alone deserves my worship, praise, adoration, giving, devotion and sacrifice.  He will not share His glory with another.

As Wes Church, one of our ministers, says, “The human heart is an idol factory.”  We have to CONSTANTLY guard our hearts against putting things above God.  I must always check my true motives throughout every day!   And I will have to continue to do that for the rest of my life! We can make almost anything – even good things, even things that are gifts from God  – into idols.

HOW CAN I POSSIBLY MAKE MY HUSBAND INTO AN IDOL?  THAT SOUNDS LUDICROUS, RIGHT?!

There are so many ways!  And sadly, we almost NEVER realize what we are doing.  If I miss a way, please let me know!  Some of these things are difficult to separate out.  It is very possible to have more than one idol at a time.  I would say I had myself, being in control, feeling loved and my husband as idols – among many other things at various times.

1.  I EXPECT HIM TO BE CHRIST TO ME – 

In this case, I don’t just expect my husband to represent Christ and portray a picture of Christ in our marriage to me (as described in Ephesians 5:22-33) but to actually BE Christ.  I put all my trust and hope in my husband instead of Jesus Christ.  I am continually disappointed, depressed and upset with my husband because “he is not meeting all my needs properly” – meaning – he is not being who and what I want him to be so that I have what I want in my life.   I am insatiable.  I am a pit of neediness.  No matter what my husband does, it is not enough.  I want more. I am angry at him all the time.  He can never measure up to my standards.  He never feels like he can be “good enough” for me.  And he truly can’t.  I want perfection at a minimum, and my sinful husband definitely can’t deliver.

2. I EXPECT TO FEEL LOVED BY HIM ALL THE TIME –  This idolatry involves my husband because I expect him to be the one making me feel loved.  But I could argue that it is my feeling of being loved that might be the actual idol here.  I don’t take responsibility for my own emotions and my own spiritual development and growth.  I make my husband 100% responsible for my feelings.  This is dysfunctional.  Healthy boundaries say I am responsible for my feelings, my husband is responsible for his feelings.  Mature love says, “I will obey God about how to treat my husband even though I don’t ‘feel loved’ right now.”  Obedience to God’s Word comes first, feelings may come later.  But whether I feel loved or not at the moment, I am still responsible to obey God’s Word for me as a wife in how I treat my husband, God and others.

3. I EXPECT HIM TO NEVER SIN AGAINST ME –  If  my husband ever stumbles or hurts me or falls into temptation – that is unacceptable when I idolize my husband in this way.  I have zero grace or mercy for him.  He must be perfect.  Many wives actually expect husbands to be completely perfect and sinless even in their thoughts 24/7.

It’s ok for me to sin and he better forgive me.  I think my sins aren’t as bad as his are.  If he sins, I look down on him because  I believe I am morally superior to him. I think, “I would NEVER sin the way he does.” Then I indulge in self-righteousness – thinking I am so much better than my husband.  I don’t see my own sin clearly.  I am too busy pointing at my husband’s sins or trying to control him to prevent him from sinning to notice that I have a mountain of my own sin God wants me to look at and repent of.

The truth is – we are ALL wretched sinners.  Marriage exposes our sin – and gives us the chance to see how much we need the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ.  It also gives us plenty of opportunities to learn to forgive and show mercy and grace to our spouse!

4. I EXPECT HIM TO BE COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY HAPPINESS –  If I am not happy, it is his fault.  He better fix it.  This is similar to #2.  Spiritually and emotionally whole people recognize that we are each responsible for our own happiness, our own relationship with Christ, our own feelings, our own needs, our own desires, our own sin and our own obedience to Christ.  If I stick my husband with “making me happy” – we are both doomed to misery!  He can’t make me happy.  I am the only one who can find joy for myself – and it is only found in Christ!  I must put Christ first, then I will have joy no matter what my husband does or does not do.

5. I DECIDE I MUST HAVE HIM TO BE HAPPY – If my husband leaves me – I think my life will be over.  I am not content in Christ alone.  I HAVE to have my husband with me.  If he sins against me, or wants a divorce, I will do anything to keep him, even if I have to sin to try to make him stay.  

I tell God that my husband cannot die before me.  I freak out if he is late a few minutes, worrying to death that he is dead.  I decide that if my husband dies, I will not trust God anymore.   My love for God is conditional upon my husband loving me, being with me and being alive.

6. HE MAY TRY TO MAKE ME PUT HIM AS AN IDOL IN MY HEART  

Sometimes, it is not the wife who is controlling, but the husband.  It is entirely possible that some husbands may expect their wives to go way beyond respect and biblical submission to literally idolize them.

God DOES give our husbands to us as God-given authorities to provide for us, protect us, lead us, guide us, love us with humility and grace, to demonstrate the selfless and sacrificial love of Christ to us and to represent Christ to us.

There is a VERY big difference between a husband seeking to represent Christ to his wife and a husband trying to replace Christ or BE Christ in his wife’s life.

Godly leadership is described in detail in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 – this is how men are to lead in a Christlike way in the church and also in their families.  The way Christ loves us is described in I Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-26.

Christ is the only mediator between us and God.   We as women have total access to Jesus and to God through the blood of Jesus, just as men do.  Galatians 3:28  We are all of equal value as image bearers of God at the foot of the cross.