There comes a time in every marriage –be it 20 minutes or 20 years after the vows– when you realize that the person you married is not the person you hoped he would be.
When that happens and the level of shock is usually directly related to how well you knew your spouse before the marriage, how well you knew the true person inside.
Inevitably, the person you marry is not everything you hoped and imagined he would be –no matter how well you knew him.
How could he be everything you hoped? He’s fallen human just like you!
The only person who will never let us down is Jesus.
My dad told me once that he was concerned that not even Jesus himself would live up to my expectations for a husband.
It could be as mild as your husband doesn’t put the seat down or, more significantly, he struggles with pornography or gambling –or it could even be worse.
Regardless of the severity the difference between what you hoped he’d be and what he actually is, every wife comes to this point.
Even the ones in happy marriages.
Husbands also experience this, according to my conversation with my husband last evening. We wives are not always everything they hoped we would be either.
This is where the the two paths diverge.
When you find yourself in this place, you have a choice.
Either you choose to love the person unconditionally and find a way to make your relationship work.
Or you choose to be angry, resentful, and bitter.
It seems like choosing to be bitter and angry wouldn’t be a violation of scripture, but our vows and scripture both indicate that we are to love our husbands and that we shouldn’t be angry.
Unconditional love loves without conditions, without him being good enough.
Being angry about the sins of your spouse is not loving. It is the opposite of loving.
Love…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Corinthians 13:5
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,
along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
If you’re angrily keeping a list of his transgressions and bitter at your husband, you’re breaking the instruction in scripture to love him. You’re also breaking your vows if you had traditional vows committing to love and honor.
You can’t be both loving and bitter at the same time.
They’re mutually exclusive.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children….
To love your husband is to not keep a record of his wrongs.
Forgiveness is also commended many times.
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother [or husband] sins, rebuke him,
and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day,
and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
If you choose to love unconditionally and show sacrificial love, this is in accordance with your vows and God’s word.
But it’s hard.
It’s incredibly hard!
You have to die to yourself, your desires, and your perceived rights.
But it’s what we are called to do.
We’re called to follow Jesus into sacrificial love.
Jesus gave up his own rights, thought of the needs of others first, and loved us, even being willing to die for us.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself,
by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Hopefully, ideally, both people in the relationship will make this choice to love unconditionally.
But that’s not always the case.
To those of you who have husbands who don’t truly love you –true love is without conditions– you do not have an easy path.
I’m blessed with an unusual relationship, because my husband has reciprocated my unconditional acceptance.
I can’t even tell you what a blessing that is.
Unfortunately, it’s not common.
Now, for about the first ten years of our marriage, we did not love each other unconditionally.
I thought I loved him.
But it wasn’t true, godly love.
It was a fake human conditional love.
I tried to love him but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for him, to give up my rights, wants, and desires.
I wasn’t determined to love him regardless of what he did and forgive him for any shortcomings, disappointments, or slights.
I didn’t give up my right to be angry at him when things didn’t go my way.
I have now.
I trust God to take care of the things I can’t control instead of being angry when I can’t control my husband.
Controlling my husband was never my approach, but I had been known to pout when turning didn’t go my way!
In the last 5 years, our marriage has changed so incredibly dramatically.
It’s always been easier than some marriages because there aren’t extreme sins in our lives. But let’s be honest, things were rough for a while, and it’s because my husband and I are sinful, selfish people.
Just like you and your husband.
There’s a million ways to ruin your relationship.
Not all of them involve unfaithfulness.
Sin doesn’t have to be jailable to be hard on a marriage.
Sometimes, it’s not even the husband’s sin that causes the problem.
Sometimes, we wives get it in our heads that things should be a certain way, and our selfishness brings about anger and bitterness because things are not going according to our preferences.
This isn’t even our husbands letting us down.
This is our selfishness getting in the way of accepting the person that God gave us.
Husbands are just as guilty of this as wives are.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others
Real love, godly love, can last through anything.
By use of it, we show the world Christ.
Other people will look at us and say, “How can they love each other like that?”
How we live and how we love will point then back to Jesus.
By use of unconditionally love –pure godly love, a wife shows Jesus to her unsaved husband.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands,
so that even if some do not obey the word,
they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
1 Peter 3:1-2
I remember the exact moment that I made the choice to love him anyway. To love him unconditionally.
This was a few years ago now.
(This wasn’t a sin issue, but it was our private business. So, understandably, I’m not giving specifics.)
He did something that I didn’t like behind my back. Now, he’s the husband, and he doesn’t need my permission –even if I think something is unwise.
He knew I would be upset that I didn’t do it his way, so he didn’t tell me.
Then I realized that he had done exactly what I didn’t want him to do.
I was furious at first.
Was he trying to upset me?
Didn’t he care what I thought?
I confronted him about it, and he acted like a scolded, cornered schoolboy. His expression was the same as our boys when they are doing something wrong and mom catches them.
That was the moment that everything changed.
That was the moment I had a huge revelation, and this is what I told him.
“You’re not a child, and I’m not your mother. I’m not going to scold or chide you for not doing things my way. You don’t answer to me; you answer to God. I’ll never shame you or reject you, no matter what you do. I love you and support you no matter what. You never have to worry about that. Just know you can always be honest with me. Please, be honest with me.”
Even as I said the words –which I completely believed– it surprised me.
But the words were a salve for our relationship.
I wish I had chosen earlier to love him unconditionally. What a huge difference it could have made.
Paul Washer says that we praise God for His grace toward us but demand our spouses love in such a way that they don’t need grace from us.
No longer would I live like that.
I have chosen to give my husband the grace that he needs, the grace that I wished he would show me.
And he has reciprocated.
But even if he hadn’t, it would still be the right thing to do.
It would still be a fulfillment of my vows and be walking in obedience to scripture.
No matter what my husband does may my life always be a reflection of God’s love pointing him back to God.
May it never be said of me that I was the reason for his doubt or his struggle.
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
I’m reminded of Job’s wife who encouraged him to curse God and die when they lost their whole family, their home, and Job lay there near death.
Then his wife said to him,
“Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
But he said to her,
“You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.
Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job 1: 9-10
What a horrible woman.
May it be said of me that I was the hand of grace pointing my husband back to God, never the one encouraging him to give up on his faith and despair.
Above all, may the Lord be glorified in my life and may I keep growing in him.
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