Tag Archive | marriage

Marriage is Not Fair – and it’s Not Supposed to Be

I have been married a little over four months now, and have just come to the conclusion that marriage is not fair!  Thinking back to the days before Mike and I started dating, I remember my friend Kelly telling me that marriage is God’s way to teach you to not be selfish.  I don’t think I fully appreciated the truth in those words, but I’m starting to get it now…. finally!  I guess I’ve always been a slow learner!

The transition to where we are now has been difficult; I don’t think I realized how hard it would be.  He’s an amazing man; I’ve never loved someone this wonderful before; our strengths and weaknesses perfectly complement each other; he loves my kid; I love his kids; what could possibly go wrong?

Well, it turns out – a lot…..

Moving, reducing household “stuff”, selling a house, sharing a room – a bed – and having different evening routines, blending finances, navigating hobbies and separate time, realizing you handle many things quite differently, but sometimes react to problems in exactly the same not-so-great emotional way – Yep, it’s hard when you’re almost 40 years old and you’ve never done this before!  I think the kids have done amazingly at becoming brothers.  I think Mike has been patient with me and as understanding as humanly possible.  Unfortunately, I think I’ve been a mess – and I’m afraid that’s going to continue until I figure all of this out.  But, it makes sense – Marriage is the answer to selfishness and I have almost 40 years of selfishness to work through!

I realized last night that many of my frustrations are based upon my perception of things not being fair…. The kids not being treated equally, different rates of progress merging the household stuff, outside “separate” interests and my unfortunate lack thereof, different priorities in spending, etc. – None of these things are bad, we just see and react to things differently.  But, it becomes a problem when I get mad that things aren’t fair and then, I want to try and control the situation to make it more equitable, from my rather biased perspective.  So, I question, challenge, and criticize; maybe he will change to be more in line with my thinking?  However, I recognize that as controlling, so I try not to take it too far.  Maybe the answer is focusing more on “finding myself”?  Perhaps I need more hobbies, maybe I need to spend more money on myself, etc?  Truthfully, maybe I do need to develop some hobbies or rekindle the ones I used to have that are appropriate within a marital relationship.  Maybe I do need to figure out who I am, since once I met this amazing man, my number one interest has been him.  However, while those things may be important, they are really missing the point completely.

Showing love is about me putting Mike’s needs and desires ahead of my own – always, not just when I agree with them.  If something is important to him, it should be important to me.  If he wants to “do”, “spend”, “act” in a particular way, I need to encourage that as his wife and not be mad when it doesn’t seem fair based on my limited perspective.  My job is to love Mike unconditionally, not only when it feels good or is in line with my thinking.  Respecting Mike means trusting that he will love and cherish me in everything he does and, more importantly, trusting that God will work on him if he doesn’t.  It isn’t my place to help God with Mike’s spiritual maturity.  I have plenty of my own growth to worry about.  40 years of selfishness… That’s where my focus should be.

The point is that no one ever said marriage is fair and it’s not supposed to be.  Marriage is based on unconditional love, the kind of love that Jesus showed us when he died on the cross.  Giving up His perfect life to save me from the penalty of my enormous sin problem certainly wasn’t fair to Him at all.  Marriage isn’t about what’s fair – it’s about love… selfless, giving, patient, kind, enduring love.  That should be the only thing that matters to me.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV)

Love and Marriage

It’s approximately 3:15 in the morning and I woke up from a sound sleep with scenes and quotes from the movie “Runaway Bride” on my mind, as well as my own words from other blogs I’ve written and speeches I’ve given. The transition from deep sleep to being fully awake was so dramatic, it would be impossible to ignore the overwhelming need to write my thoughts. If I end up posting this blog, I suspect it may ruffle some feathers, but maybe those feathers have already been ruffled and it will bring peace and comfort. Maybe I’m opening a can of worms by trying to explain my heart. Maybe I’m too open, and have the right to do anything I want, so it’s wrong to try and justify my feelings and actions. Maybe I’m wrong for even feeling the way I do…

Maybe those, and other thoughts that cross my mind, are just Satan’s lies and are designed to beat me down. I don’t know, but I’m going to say what I need to say and then decide what to do with it later.

Anyone who’s read my blog knows that I’m transparent to a fault. I will talk about sensitive subjects, my deepest feelings, and where I struggle. One of my personal goals is to let others know that they are not alone in their walk. I want to show that many people wrestle with the same emotions and even frequently the same issues they do, especially as they grow as Christians. The sanctification process is not easy, and certainly is not for the faint at heart, so I share my emotions and what God is teaching me to help other people know they’re not alone and it’s okay to be open and secure about yourself – exactly where you are.

In the time I’ve been blogging, I have publicly posted every blog I have written (you have no idea how scary that was and still can be for me), with the exception of one blog, written in December 2011. I also gave a Toastmaster’s competition speech in 2009 that was loosely based on another blog, but I took the speech to a deeper place and it’s not posted either. The “secret” blog has been on my heart for a while now and last Saturday, I came across a draft of that speech as I went through my files preparing to move.

I still do not feel led to post either of these writings in their entirety, as there are parts of them that would likely be taken as negative, when they were never meant in that way. Rather, these were just events that shaped my personal views, and a part of life, nothing bad whatsoever. Anyone who knows me well hopefully realizes that while I fall incredibly short, more often than I would like, I would never deliberately want to hurt anyone…ever!

I want to share parts of these two writings, and I hope this helps you understand where I am and why I see things the way I do. None of my decisions are really up for negotiation, but it is my hope that if I am vulnerable enough to go this deep, it will be clear that my actions are not meant to hurt or exclude anyone. It’s just who I am. And, yes, I do realize that I’m an almost 40-year-old woman (ugh – that’s harder to type than I thought) and have earned the right to do what I want with my life, regardless of what anyone thinks. I just want to go the extra mile, praying that on some level, you will understand where I am coming from and realize nothing I have done or will do was meant to hurt anyone – family, friends, anyone at all!

I was 35 years old when I gave my Toastmaster’s competition speech on relationships. It was about being single at such an “advanced” age and finding contentment in that place. I poked a lot of fun at myself in that speech, but it’s always easier to take those jabs when you’re telling your own stories!

In that speech, I talked about one of my favorite books, Boundaries, and how it clearly showed me that I was breaking the basic tenets discussed and that contributed to my dating issues. That is, we are responsible for ourselves and to other people; I am not responsible for other people and they are not responsible for me. I realized that it’s important to have reasonable expectations for people and my relationships with them, and to love others, unconditionally, for who they are, not who you want them to be.

In the Christmas 2011 blog, I delved deeper into the topic of being unmarried. I discussed my fears of marriage and described my proficiency in having unhealthy relationships. I closed that blog with the following passage, finally getting to the point where I felt ready and open to having a healthy relationship in God’s timing.

“And, thus, I remain torn…. I’m too old to settle for something unhealthy. I am doing okay on my own, but I know God wants more for me. I know I was created to be a “help-meet” for man. I was not designed to be alone. But, I was also not designed to control, nor be controlled by a man.

I desire more than anything a Godly husband who will love me in spite of my many shortcomings, someone who sees his own imperfections as avenues for growth and wants to take that spiritual journey together. I want a man who will step up and be a man, the spiritual leader of the household, but still have the grace and mercy that Jesus had for the church. I want a man who will love me with all of his heart, yet understands my heart.

I know these men exist; I’ve met them….but, there are smarter women than me who figured this out a lot sooner than I did! I pray that God sends me someone who has traveled the same crooked road that I have, has made a lot of similar mistakes, but is now headed in the right direction and wants me along for the ride….”

Looking back, I know that God answered my prayer in bringing Mike into my life not long after I wrote those words, although we didn’t become friends until the summer of 2012, and he didn’t become my boyfriend until May 2013. In that time, God has been teaching me a lot about patience and trusting Him with everything!

My relationship with Mike has been a huge opportunity for my own personal growth, which has been frustrating at times because I had felt I’ve come so far, only to learn that I still have a long road ahead of me! But, I’ve made peace with that and now understand why I was “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” for so many of my adult years. In fact, I’m grateful that God waited until I was where He wanted me to be before allowing me to make a decision that I would have regretted earlier in my life. Now, I accept that marriage, especially blending a family, will be hard, but I am committed to making it work. I am beyond thankful for having an amazing Godly man at my side, and having God as the center of our relationship.

I don’t think you have any idea how far I’ve come in this process (and still admitting I have a long way to go) and how God has been working on me for a very long time. Most of my growth has come after 2007, when I accepted Jesus as my savior and began the process of letting Him into the dark places of my heart. I could not be where I am right now without God’s incredible love, extensive patience, and the fact He is helping me believe His amazing plans for me.

I would not be where I am without God doing the same work in Mike, and bringing us together. I am also grateful for the countless prayers, encouragement, and counsel from so many people! I definitely have a better understanding of what is meant by “speak truth in love” because it has been demonstrated by some very special people to help both of us get to this point, both separately and together. Our family and friends, guided by the Holy Spirit, have been instrumental in helping us both become ready to be united in marriage!

It is beyond amazing to fully realize what God has done in both of our lives! I cannot take any credit for the fact that I am getting married to the most incredible man I have ever met. It is 100% God at work, no question about it!

Our wedding is a celebration of what God is doing in our lives. It is about God, Mike, me, and our three boys. It’s about us making a commitment to each other and to God that we will follow His lead in our life, during easy times, hard times, and impossible times. It is about celebrating who God is and the amazing blessings He has given us and is joining us as one to love and nurture three incredible young men.

The wedding will be intimate, deeply personal, and truly Christ centered. While I’ve come a long way in my transparency, it’s still scary for me to be so vulnerable. I get easily distracted because of that. Every time I post a blog or speak, I get nervous because I’m afraid of being too authentic, too real, too much…. It’s sometimes very hard, and I do need reassurance, probably more than I care to admit and I truly wish this wasn’t the case.

Even though I am open, I am not without fear. I was shaking during and after Mike’s proposal at church. I loved it, especially because it signified so much about everything we have both been through, but honestly, it scared me to death. I couldn’t even truly cry about how beautiful the whole thing was until I watched the video of it later, and then the tears of joy wouldn’t stop because I truly realized how incredibly lucky and blessed I am. Mike later told me that he couldn’t look at me while singing because he was afraid he would cry.

In the moment of the proposal, I was worried about what everyone was thinking and the fact they were all looking at me. Afterwards, I was so overwhelmed by the love and encouragement from everyone that I don’t remember what I said or if I even acted appropriately. I was afraid that I may not have clearly communicated how thrilled I was that everyone was excited for us. There was so much going on and I didn’t want to do anything wrong.

Wrong as they may be, these are the thoughts that distract me from truly being present in the moment. Wrong as it may be, I am still very sensitive (although honestly grateful for God’s timing) to the fact that it took me this long to get to a place where I was ready to be a wife to a Godly, wonderful man.

This is why I want a private wedding ceremony. I want it to be about God, Mike, and our three boys. I don’t want to be distracted, overwhelmed, worried, or afraid to be completely myself. This is not saying any people are distracting, overwhelming, or cause fear or worry in my mind. It is purely a situational thing, and it’s not any of you, it’s me. I can admit that and it’s okay that I’m not perfect in this area.

The things that cause me stress are very good things and I am incredibly grateful for everyone who loves us and who wants to celebrate with us. This is why we are excited about having two parties to celebrate our wedding with you after we are married. Your support and encouragement mean so much to both of us. We love you all and would never want to hurt you….any of you!

I truly apologize for any hard feelings that I may have caused for any of my family and friends, or for Mike’s family and friends. I am thankful and humbled by your love, encouragement, support, and desire to share in our happiness with us! I sincerely hope you can make it either in Covington, Louisiana on November 29th or Kingwood, Texas on December 13th. And just to be clear, we aren’t looking for presents (in fact, we have so much stuff, we have joked about giving everyone something of ours as a “gift” for attending); we just truly want to share our joy with our family and friends who mean so much to us both.

Relationships and God

It’s been a while since I have written on my blog, partly because I haven’t been spending much time alone, but also because the writing I have done has been deeply personal (even for me) and is not something I feel I should share publicly, as it affects more than just me.  However, today, I had a conversation with a friend that made me want to try and explain what God has been teaching me and where I am in my spiritual walk.  I’m not sure this will end up blog worthy, but it’s a step up from simply writing in my journal, so let’s see what happens.

A friend of mine, who has also never been married and is not currently interested in dating, was telling me about her friend’s engagement and the conversation soon turned to our experiences in relationships.  It has been a very long time since I have been in a relationship, for good reason, as I have never been too successful in that department.  My last attempt was a complete disaster, and the ones when I was younger were not much better.  I have blogged about all of this before, although I took down one of my more insightful blogs written in December 2011 because I was hesitant about portraying anyone in a negative light.  However, while it’s easy to blame other people for your problems, the reality is that my struggles in the relationship department have more to do with my relationship with God than my experiences in life.

I think that’s why I want to publicly share my thoughts on this topic, because when I was talking to my friend about everything, she told me it is good that my current relationship is based on God, as she doesn’t even think of God when she considers dating.  I said this is a relatively new feeling for me, and explained how looking at love and marriage through the lens of God is the only way I could ever envision it working out for me. 

I have always said that it’s good I never married as I would have ended up getting divorced or being miserable, and that’s a very true statement.  Part of this is that I was a huge perfectionist, and wanted this perfect prince to sweep me off my feet, so we could live happily ever after.  But, I had a very negative self-image and never really felt worthy of such a prince, and thus didn’t looked for the right men in the right places, nor did I give them much reason to respect me.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture… Bottom line, God was not remotely involved in my desires, much less the center of my world.

All of this began to change in 2007 when I became a Christian, but my relationship dysfunction was still very prevalent when I wrote that blog in December 2011.  God has definitely been getting through to me ever since that time, and while He still has a long way to go, I am beginning to see everything differently.  It has been and will continue to be a struggle, but it’s definitely drawing me closer to God, and that tells me it’s a good thing.

Studying God’s covenant with us and realizing that marriage is a model for Christ’s relationship with the Church has really opened my eyes to how everything is supposed to work. Even at our recent women’s retreat, the speaker made a great comment about marriage. She said that marriage is being faithful in spite of how the other person is behaving, which is how God has always been faithful to the Church.

I am far from perfect and I disappoint God every day, often because I choose to. Yet, God still upholds His end of the bargain, every day, despite my many failures. I do not deserve His love, yet He lavishes it on me completely. For the first time in my life, I see that a marriage isn’t supposed to be about me, but rather about glorifying God and putting an imperfect person ahead of myself. I fully want to share the grace that God has given me.

If God can love me selflessly, why would I not strive to love my husband in this manner?

If God forgives me every time I stumble, why would I not want to show my husband the same grace and mercy?

If God’s way is always shown to be better than mine, why wouldn’t I consider letting go of my control and following His plan completely, including His model for marriage?

I honestly don’t see how a marriage could ever work without God being the center of both people’s lives. I assume most people are just as flawed as I am and not only mess up with God, but mess up with each other frequently! If I was married, I know I would constantly let my husband down trying to live in my own strength. I think this could easily lead to anger and resentment in the absence of God. Even with God as the basis for the relationship, the potential is still there because we live in a fallen world and people tend to be quite selfish. I am realistic enough to admit that simply seeing God’s way as the answer does not make it easier to get everything right. There are currently many ways I *want* to glorify God and I am falling short, so I know my desires are not enough on their own. Marriage would be a daily struggle with the flesh, just like everything else in life. But, anyone who has known me for a while realizes that even getting to this place emotionally and spiritually is huge for me.

I am so grateful that God brought an amazing man into my life, one who has his own set of challenges.  I love how everything has happened, not necessarily in the way I have “wanted”, but in a way that provides incredible opportunities for me to grow personally and learn to trust God for everything. I honestly find the struggles to be more meaningful than if everything went the way I envisioned. I am slowly letting go of my need to control everything related to my life. I love how God keeps bringing transparent people into my life who are dealing with issues that seem to perfectly tie into what I am experiencing.  I can see God’s hand in everything I do and that is such an incredible comfort and blessing. I am truly enjoying the journey more than any other time in my life and it’s all because of God…

Living in the World

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).

My personality is unique. I’m very open and try to appreciate others for who they are, no matter their sins. I’m pretty successful at this, even with acquaintances and strangers. People generally feel comfortable being their true selves around me, and find no reason to hide anything. This is a very good thing…usually!

A problem can result when other people take my acceptance of their beliefs as my personal agreement with their decisions. I’ve never walked in the other person’s shoes, so I have no right in judging them. But, I have walked miles in my own shoes and know where God is leading me.

Since I’ve been on this trip, a couple of “weird” comments have been made by others that concern me greatly. I’m somewhat comfortable with expressing my beliefs, but fear these people’s thoughts represent the “status quo” for society. Considering the frequency of such remarks has been increasing in my life, this must be true!

Before I go into specifics, let me warn you that this is going to get personal really fast! You may not want to know this much about me or my struggles. I’ve been told that I should come with a warning label! This is it; you’ve been warned!!

Let’s start with last night. I decided to have a couple of beers with my colleagues, but I arrived at the bar earlier than the others. I ordered a beer, sat down at the bar, and the man next to me struck up a conversation with me, as frequently happens. It was completely harmless and innocent. When the others arrived, a colleague of mine asked me why I didn’t “go for that”. I initially thought she was joking, but I quickly learned she was serious. I explained that I’m not like that and don’t want to hook up with a random person. She then said something that disturbed me greatly….”No one has to know.”

I laughed and said, “This is me we’re talking about, everyone would know because I can’t lie or hide something that serious.” I tried to explain what I was looking for in a relationship and that I was not going to compromise that, but I don’t think they understood.

This morning, the group was talking about dancing, and since they know I enjoy it, they showed me a YouTube video of a hot, new Latin dance. I remarked that I would not be comfortable performing that dance socially, but it’s something I could enjoy with my husband, if I were married. A comment was made – “Isn’t that what dancing is for, to have fun with random people?” It is, but I feel some dances are too intimate to be shared so casually. Think back to the movie “Dirty Dancing” – this is your dance space; this is mine.

In society’s eye, I have become a prude! Anyone who has known me for any amount of time would have to credit (or curse, depending on their perspective) God for this transformation. I used to think just like everyone else seems to think…but I don’t anymore.

Maybe I’m ultra-sensitive and vigilant in this area because I know all too well the slippery slope that you face when you flirt too close to the line. I’ve even learned that being upfront and honest with people may encourage “challenge” in the wrong man’s eyes. This is all very dangerous and I’ve yet to meet a non-Christian who understands. Perhaps my mistake here is in trying to justify myself to someone who may never get it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many Christians who seem to get it either. Many are married and haven’t experienced the pressures and societal “expectations” of single adults. I’ve also met single Christians who choose to ignore sin in this area of their lives, and others who have never had the opportunity for temptations or are not interested in “such things” at all.

It’s really too bad that sex is such a taboo subject in the church and many people are uncomfortable talking about it. I really believe that if we Christians are open about our struggles, it would show that this is a common issue among single adults who want to honor God in their actions, and still want to enjoy life to the fullest! It would also make it easier for everyone to be on the same page, and allow for compassion and grace.

Honestly, I’m not even completely at peace with God’s teaching regarding sex and marriage. I’ve come a long way, but I’m not there yet! A friend of mine recently got married for the second time and they decided to wait to have sex until their wedding night. I fully respect and admire their devotion to God, but I’m not convinced I could be that strong!

Now that I think about it (and you’re reading it here first, as I never considered this until this precise moment), maybe this is the reason I avoid relationships, especially with Godly men… Part of me feels guilty that I have these struggles and not having a pristine past makes me feel unworthy of their love. But, more than that, I know I could never be successful waiting to have sex until marriage (something that may never happen) in my own strength…and I’m not completely sure that I want to. It sounds terrible that I would want to deliberately be disobedient, but unfortunately, that’s where I am. I may have subconsciously decided that it’s safer and easier to be alone, date casually (where sex isn’t an issue), or most horribly, get involved with men outside of God’s will. In all of these ways, I am showing my lack of trust in God…and that’s a huge problem for me!

I feel God is asking me for complete trust and obedience in this area and that’s scary for me…but like I said yesterday – if He brings me there, He’ll bring me through it. So, I really need to get over this issue completely…and maybe once I do, I’ll be more comfortable being “different” to “the world”.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV).