While driving the other day I noticed a bumper sticker at a red light that said,
“Don’t believe everything you think.”
So true. I could save myself a lot of trouble by adhering to those five words. How often do we create reality out of our thoughts? If we behave as though these thoughts are actually true, we can make ourselves miserable.
We can scare ourselves silly.
When I was seven, I had a reoccurring dream that a lion sat on my couch each night. When I would go get a drink of water, it would stare at me as I walked down the hallway. It never pounced or attacked, but it was frightening to me. On nights when I was awake and thirsty, I would sit in my bed feeling terrified to get a drink of water. Sometimes I would refuse to go to the kitchen because I knew that [the] lion would be in my living room. There were nights when I gained enough courage to fly down the hallway and run to the faucet in a frantic hurry. I would fill my cup and then sprint back to my bed, spilling my water everywhere, and quickly jump onto the mattress in case the lion had decided to hide under my bed. I looked like a crazy girl. I wasn’t crazy, I just believed my own thoughts.
I still believe lies. I often freak out and waste time and energy running from imaginary lions. There are real things in life that are plenty scary, so why do I add pain by worrying about things that just aren’t true? When it comes to marriage, there are three big lies that come to mind. They stare us down and cause us to second guess things. I have whispered these lies to myself, and I have heard them from others. A lot.
1. If my spouse would just change, I would be happier.
We all think it. We look across the room at our spouse and wonder why he won’t shape up.
It’s easy to blame our sadness and broken expectations on our spouse. When our hopes are dashed against the rocks, we tend to get really bummed out. I doubt you had childhood dreams that included fighting, anger, and bitterness in your future marriage.
You were pretty certain Prince Charming rode a white horse, not a lawn mower while drinking a beer. Sleeping Beauty gets woken up by a kiss, not by snoring and gas being passed on her leg. And Mr. Darcy exists only between the pages of a book. If your husband is exactly like Mr. Darcy, then you are possibly delusional, in denial, or really blessed.
Reality is sort of surprising, isn’t it? Even at his finest moments, your husband is not able to make you happy in every area. But, there isn’t a human walking on this earth who can do that. The quicker we understand that our spouse isn’t our all in all, the better. Instead of expecting your guy to change, try to love the person he is becoming. (It’s called faith.) Jesus is better than the worst spouse and he’s better than the best spouse.
2. I am failing my family.
Yes, you are. You fail, I fail, we all fail — and that is why we so desperately need a Savior. Your husband, your children, your extended family need more than you can give.
In fact, you need more than you can offer to yourself. Peace is an outside job. You aren’t going to find it looking inward. If you search your heart, you will find lots of crazy things, like selfish motives, pride, lust, envy, and on and on. Look up! Jesus is called the Prince of Peace because He is the highest form of peace you can ever find or know. Women tend to see all of the things they are doing wrong, (compared to others) and begin to emotionally flog themselves.
Please put down the whip, because all wrath has been atoned for at the cross, so you don’t have to make amends for your failures. Don’t try to do really good things to make God happy, just repent and ask for strength. Trying to appease everyone, including God will burn you out fast. And then you will feel like a failure. And then you will have to try harder to feel acceptable. See? It’s kind of like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” . . . it leaves you chasing rabbit trails instead of steadily walking in forward in the light of grace and forgiveness.
3. I married the wrong person.
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this, I could buy my own island and spend my days splashing around in blue waters. I have thought this a time or two, and I am sure my husband has as well. The fact is, we are all the wrong person. Nobody has marriage figured out.
We have limited tools to work with, depending on our upbringings, experiences, and struggles. Life is hard, and nobody is left untouched by the damage that takes place when we are sinned against. Some people have fewer tools than others, but thankfully God is there to support us in our weakness. And loving your spouse is a decision to hang in there, despite the hurts and disappointments. Like Matt Chandler states,
Love says, I’ve seen the ugly parts of you, and I’m staying.
As a side note: I am not saying stay if you are being abused. Get help, get safe, and pray God intervenes. It’s okay to place boundaries in your marriage and stand by them. Leaving doesn’t mean divorcing, and leaving might be the most loving thing you can do of your spouse. I am no expert in this, but if you are in that situation, please protect yourself and your children. For encouragement in this area, June Hunt offers good insight.
For the marriage that struggles with everyday fighting and failures, hang in there and know that you are not alone, because God loves you and has good intentions towards you. He wants your marriage to stay whole and will see you through the dark times that inevitably come. Looking for a better-suited spouse might not work, because you are still bringing YOU with you, and that is half of the equation. The new person will be flawed, and will also let you down.
So forget about finding your soul-mate. That is all baloney. Why would you want to find someone that suits you perfectly, anyway? I believe God uses our differences to bring about growth and maturity in each other. I certainly don’t need a male version of myself. We would just sit around all day talking and daydreaming and cuddling, but the house would fall down around us, and nobody would get fed. My husband benefits from my emphasis on intimacy and family time, because without it he would end up an independent island unto himself, and get very lonely.
Lies will come at you.
Plug your ears. Saturate yourself with the truth of scripture. Ignore the lion. Your husband might change for the better or for the worse, but it still isn’t where your joy comes from. You are going to fail your family, so try not to beat yourself up so much.
Look at each other’s weaknesses as an opportunity to help each other become more like Christ.