Beautiful, difficult, exhausting, fulfilling…what do you think?
I think relationships of all kinds are challenging and that is a good thing! We need to be challenged in order to grow. My friends challenge me differently than my children, who challenge me differently than my husband and so on.
Lately I have been reading a few books, articles and listening to podcasts that have revolved around marriage and want to share with you a few points that really hit home. I think we all need to be reminded of these key points.
- Your partner is not responsible for your happiness.
Again, I think this can apply to all relationships we encounter. We are not responsible for another’s happiness, nor should we rely on them to bring us happiness. The thing is that we need to find our own happiness in this life. We make that choice every day. Those we choose to have relationships with in our lives can most definitely enhance our happiness, but they are not meant to be the source.
‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song I will praise him.’ – Psalm 28:7
Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and He needs to be the source of my happiness. This does not belittle the happiness my husband brings to my life. Quite the opposite takes place when I put this into action. When I decided that I was expecting too much from my husband and that I needed to really look deep inside myself to see what was missing, I found that I was expecting my husband to fill a place in me that is only meant for the Spirit. Sure I was still praying and studying and asking God to fill my life, but something was off. I was essentially expecting my husband to be perfect. I was not extending the same Grace that is extended to me with each and every breath I take. I was holding my poor husband up to a standard that he could never meet. I was stunting his growth by not allowing him the space he needed. I was stunting my own growth by expecting him to satisfy my every need. I expected him to read my mind, know my thoughts, see my emotional turmoil and to respond in the exact manner I wanted him to. Well, that is just impossible. There is only one that knows my inner most needs and that is Jesus.
‘You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ – Acts 2:28
When I saw what was happening and decided to make changes, my marriage was transformed. It was difficult to make the changes needed, but God is faithful and He has brought me such a long way. I know that I have a long road ahead of me, but I am already seeing the fruit being produced in my obedience.
- We are to minister to one another.
I don’t know about you, but I was in a place where I thought I was ministering to my husband, but I was really just telling him what he was doing wrong. When you are in as intimate a relationship as a marriage, you see the good, the bad and the ugly in that other person. They also have the great pleasure of seeing these things in you. At this time, I believe you have another choice. You can start weighing the good and the bad, take notes, and hand them a plan for how they can be a better person. The other option is to love them completely and walk beside them on their journey. We need to be ministering to each other, this includes our spouses.
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” – I Peter 4:10
There is no competition in marriage. Really, we should not be competing with anyone, not spiritually. We all have our own, unique walk and cannot race to a finish line. It is my job to minister to my husband. Without manipulation! I have begun to see that I need to seek only to serve him and not remind him of how he should be serving me. That was tough, I didn’t even realize that I was doing this. I was telling him how he fell short of my expectations. I thought I was sharing with him how I was feeling, but I now see that I was really coming from a place of expectation. I was expecting him to change his approach and behaviors in response to my emotional needs. I have started a different approach and am trying to be mindful of the words I use. I try to not speak out of emotion, typically I regret anything that comes out of my mouth when I am emotional. I have been looking to serve him. I don’t want to take this for granted. I am the only person in this world that can be this close to him and I want to be the light and love that he needs. That he deserves.
On one of the pod casts I was listening to, a gentleman said something that I absolutely loved. I do not have the exact quote but it was to this point. “The problem is that we keep asking the wrong question. We should not be asking how to have a better marriage, we should be asking ourselves how we can be better spouses.”
We cannot control other people. We cannot control circumstances. We can only control our own actions and responses. An attitude is an outward response of our inner feelings. Change cannot take place from the outside in, transformation can only come from the inside out. Today I choose to have a good attitude. I choose to minister to all people who God places in my life. I choose to look to the Holy Spirit for my joy and peace. I choose to give up all my demands and to ask Jesus to replace them with opportunities to serve. I choose to give up control and know that when I do, it is replaced with so much more than I could have ever imagined or demanded.
I choose life. I choose love. I choose to have an ever-deepening relationship with my husband and to not settle for a shallow version where I think I am getting what I deserve. The truth is that I don’t deserve any of it. I am a sinner and deserve nothing. I am an imperfect human being who has caused so much wreckage in my life and I cannot expect anyone in my life to live to a higher standard. That is not my job description. I am to love, I am to support, I am to pray, and I am to be still. I choose to keep my eyes on God and to let Him fill me so that I can minister to my loved one the way that they need me to.