If I’m being very honest, there’s been more than once in our marriage when I’ve felt very alone. Times when I stood unaccompanied in my kitchen staring at the cabinets thinking, “Ok, God. It’s just you and me now.”
During these times, I knew that I had given my word to stay married to my husband until the end of my life, and I had all but resolved that from here on out, I would just have to live with the choice I made. I figured I could either be depressed, constantly wishing things were different and allow my disappointment to control my feelings, or, I could place my hope in Christ alone and live in the joy that only He can provide.
I decided to do the ladder. I decided to go on about my life, living peaceably with my husband, not starting the same fight again and again. At first, although we weren’t fighting anymore, I would often feel resentment for the lack of change I wanted to see. See, during those times, I was angry that Josh wasn’t the husband I had imagined I’d be with one day. Instead, I found out the hard way that he was a real human being just like myself. A flawed, and sometimes selfish human being.
During that time, instead of finding what I so desperately wanted from my husband, I learned what it truly meant to be content in Christ. Eventually, my anger with my husband subsided. Eventually, I began to pray for him. And eventually, God humbled me.
One of the things God taught me was that I had expectations for Josh that he never actually had for himself; and when my expectations weren’t met, it showed in my anger and bitterness towards my him. Something I didn’t realize was that I never even communicated these expectations with Josh until I was already angry that he wasn’t fulfilling them.
For example, I never communicated with Josh that I simply expected him to have an extremely strong work ethic. That’s what I had seen in my dad growing up and I simply expected any husband to be like that. And while Josh has always worked hard at his job (he’s received several promotions and employee of the month awards) he always had the mindset that home was for rest and family. My fault was in never appreciating the fact that Josh wanted to spend time with his family instead of rushing onto the next project. Something my father-with-a-strong-work-ethic could have been better at if we’re being honest.
As I more and more surrendered my marriage to Christ, God taught me to hold my expectations with an open hand. Josh wasn’t a horrible person just because he didn’t meet my expectations. Not even that, but when I looked deeper, I realized that my expectations for him were often ones I didn’t even have for myself! When I worked full-time hours, I also liked to come home and relax for a while.
God has taught me to start appreciating the differences between Josh and I. I took it upon myself to learn more about his love language and his personality type. It helped me to understand more about why he did the things that he did. Guess what Josh’s love language is? Quality time! So you can also guess how he felt when he came home from his job and I tried to put him to work? He also felt alone and like I didn’t want to spend any time with him!
There could be a hundred different reasons why you might one day wake up and feel completely alone in your marriage. It could be that your husband broke your trust or constantly fails to live up to your expectations. I want to ask you to evaluate your expectations. Are they the same expectations that God would have for your husband? Look deeper into the psychology of why your husband makes the choices he does. Make an effort to take a short walk in his shoes, give him the benefit of the doubt, and ask God to open your eyes and allow you to understand your husband.
Of course, it could very well be that your husband is dropping the ball. In that case, start with prayer. Pray for change in your husband’s life but also ask God to give you an accurate view of yourself and remember the times when you drop the ball. Do your best to communicate your expectations without any ultimatums attached. Let him know that you love him no matter what, but you know he can do better.
Then, be content. Encourage him and say thank you when he makes an effort to change. But, keep in mind that he is not perfect and he will make mistakes. Don’t nag him when he does! We all need room to fail and as frustrating as it might be, showing him grace (rather than nagging) when he fails after communicating your expectations will only make him appreciate your support that much more.
In the end, if our joy is founded in Christ, we put much less pressure on our husbands to be Mr. Right. Showing grace will ultimately be so much easier because you will remember the grace that Christ first showed you.