Thursday, August 7, 2008

How's Your Marriage? How Are You?

My question today stems from a devotion I wrote a few weeks back. I revealed portions of my past which still affect my marriage today. I continued with a part 2 dealing with my struggle with intimacy. I continued even further by blogging about more recent trials in my marriage. This opened up great discussion, comments, and questions flowing out of the hearts of women who could relate. I ended my blog post by saying that my marriage is in a really good place now. To that, questions and comments posed to me went something like this: "How did it get there?" "What if your husband won't go to counseling?" "I don't love my husband anymore, what do I do?" "My husband doesn't make me feel good, he doesn't even notice me, what do I do?" "I'm exhausted from trying to be happy." "What if your husband is not a Christian?" "That's great for you, but what about me?"

My honest answer to all of these is the same........"I don't know."

Now doesn't that make you feel better? But it's the truth. I wish I had answers. I can only share my story. I try to not give advice or counseling, because I'm not a trained professional. And I'm not in your shoes. All I can do, it just tell you about what I know. It sounds so simple, and I know it's not. It's very hard. But what I know is that Jesus sees, cares, loves, and never abandons.

One thing that helped me greatly, besides counseling and professional help, was my prayer life. I know it sounds simple. And I know you've probably heard this before. But I'm going to say it anyway.

For years, I spent my time praying for God to change Jeff. I think I blamed Jeff for me not feeling good about myself. I thought, if he would only pay more attention to me, if he would just be more romantic, I wish he understood me, he loves his work more than me, I wish he would read the Bible with me or pray with me, and I could go on. Finally, I realized that one of the biggest barriers in my marriage was me. Not only was I a nag and a pathetic complainer (a little self righteous as well), but I was also in God's way. God could not begin to work on Jeff with me in the way.

I bought Stormie O'Martian's book, Power of a Praying Wife. I was absolutely floored when the first thing she suggested I pray for was myself. I bought the book to change Jeff through my prayers, not to change me. That really opened my eyes. I learned that I needed to step out of the way. In fact, maybe God didn't want to change my husband, maybe He really wanted to change me! Who knows, but I decided to focus on what God could and would do through me. Instead of trying to figure out how God's Word applied to everyone else (especially Jeff), I focused on how it applied to me. Voila! Welcome change. And a good one.

I still overstep my boundaries, but not as much as I used to. I realized that I was only bringing my husband down. I began praying for Jeff, but I stayed out of the way. There was no miraculous quick improvement, but when I look back to when I first made the decision to think more of my place in my marriage and this world and began to work on me...when I compare who I am today and where my marriage is today vs. where it was then...well, Wow! Night and Day.

I am a wife. But even before that, I am a child of God. I belong to Jesus Christ. I pray my marriage lasts forever, but I have no guarantee of that. I have the guarantee that my relationship with Jesus will. That's the relationship I need to work on first. Amazingly, when that one is right, the rest falls in place. It doesn't mean that all is well, but it means I am well.

Instead of asking the question, "How is my marriage?" First ask, "How am I?"

And I thank you Jeff, for allowing me to write about us, our personal struggles and triumphs, even when it's no fun to look back at the yucky. I'm so thankful we've moved on to yummy:) You are a wonderful husband. Thanks for loving me. I love you too:)

I'm praying for marriages today. Blessings!




Mari said...

Oh Melissa, I had the same response to that first chapter. I was thinking to myself "Excuse me?!" But she was right. I had some stuff God needed me to deal with. It certainly was not what I expected to happen. But in the end, it was good. It has helped my marriage. I mean there were other components and things that helped but surely focusing on what things I needed to change helped a lot as well.

Joyful said...

I love your open honesty. Rejoicing in all that God has done in you and for you. Thanks for your prayers.

Lynn Cowell said...

Hey Melissa,
I started praying the prayers from The Power of a Praying Wife a few years ago. I saw a tremendous change in us!
Keep it up!
Love ya!
PS Greg and I signed up for the race and starting running together this week. Thank you so much for the suggestion! We are enjoying spending time together this way!

DJWRIGHT said...

I totally agree. My marriage of 17 years had been spiraling down for the last couple of years due to my husbands bitterness and anger to my family members.(this is not either of us first marraige). The marraige and its problems had drain me. I was tired,worn out, ready to bail. Only by the touch of the Lord did I not make another bad choice of roads to go down. I was so exhausted I found it even tiring to pray. I too read one of Stormies books. (PRAYING THE DEEPER ISSUES OF MARRIAGE). In that book are prayers, prayers that speak the heart of every woman. I saw answers of counceling, reconsiliation, communication, and renewed commitment on both our parts. Prayer is the "DUCT TAPE" that holds a marriage together. PRAY,PRAY AND PRAY.

Jerralea said...

Thanks for reminding us that our relationship with Jesus has to be worked on first!

lynn cowell said...

Thanks for the nice comments on my blog. Greg and I have yet to get our place to stay, but we are definitely committed to the race!

Kristine said...

Another book that has been eye opening to me as a wife is "Finding the Hero in Your Husband" by Julianna Slaterly. It really focuses on many of the questions that others have posed to you in regards to their marriages. Also, "A Wife After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George is great. Thank you for your honesty when you write. I have enjoyed following your blog since I discovered it a few weeks ago through a Proverbs 31 Ministry devotion.