I Throw Like a Girl

What I Learned This Week ~ It Doesn’t Always Take Two

Posted by Carol on February 18, 2009

I have been working on this post since before Valentine’s Day. It was my goal to have a post about love and marriage in keeping with the whole Valentine’s theme, but I have written and re-written this so many times that I have obviously missed my self-imposed deadline.

And that’s the great thing about self-imposed deadlines. They can be changed by creating a new self-imposed deadline. So that’s what I have done.

Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife has started a weekly carnival called “What I Learned This Week”. The idea is to post something either serious or amusing that you, uhm,  learned this week.  Well, just as I take self-imposed deadlines very lightly, I am going to take the term “this week” very lightly, too.  Because what I am posting I have learned over the years, but it just dawned on me this week that perhaps it could help others, too.

My husband and I have been married for 22 1/2 years. We have had our ups and downs in those years. We have had many relocations, two babies, sickness, health, lots of better and lots of worse. About 3 years ago, we were at a pretty low place in our marriage. We had decided early on (before we were even married) that divorce was never going to be an option for us, but I did not want our marriage to be a “grit your teeth and bear it so you can say you made it 50 years together” kind of thing. Yet that’s what it was becoming.

I knew my husband was not at a place where he would be open to marriage counseling. He travels a lot for his job and he did not have the same sense of urgency that things could be/needed to be “fixed” that I had. So I went to a Christian counselor by myself. At first, I was very angry about going by myself. After all, why should I be the only one who cares enough about our marriage to make changes while he sails along doing as he pleases? Why should I care enough to go to counseling when he can’t be bothered?

Well, it’s because  I stood in a church all those years ago and I made a vow before God that I would love my husband for better or for worse and if I wanted to keep that vow, this is what I had to do.

But you know what I found out? It doesn’t necessarily take two to make your marriage better. I cannot control what my husband does, or thinks, or says, but I can control my words, my thoughts, my actions (as much as humanly possible).  And just changing myself was enough to have a very positive influence on our marriage.

In counseling, I learned about the negative attitude I was having that was poisoning our relationship. I learned about my self-righteousness and pride that I needed to ask God to strip away. I learned that I was living pretty opposite to what God describes as love in I Corinthians 13 in the way I was treating my husband. My friends and children probably felt loved by me, but not my husband.

Ouch.

My husband never believed change was possible, but when he saw the changes in me through the power of the transforming grace and love of God he softened, too.  Our marriage is not perfect, and we still have a long way to go, but we are much closer and I am actually looking forward to being an empty nester with him in a few short years. We are not just gritting our teeth and hanging on by our fingernails anymore.

I have been involved in women’s ministry long enough to know that there are many hurting marriages in the church.  The divorce rate is just as high for Christians as it is for the rest of society. I don’t have all the answers, but God’s Word does.

Check out I Corinthians 13 and do a self-assessment of the love you are showing to your spouse.  Sylane over at the TBloG is doing a great series of posts on I Corinthians 13. She has much wisdom and insight and I urge you to go read what she has to say.

If you want something that you can do today to start making your marriage better – even if your spouse has given up – here’s what I would suggest.  Go rent the movie Fireproof and watch it, with or without your husband/wife. But don’t let watching this movie become a source of conflict in your marriage. If you end up watching it alone, that’s ok.

Then go get the book that goes along with this movie, The Love Dare.  It is a 40-day plan that incorporates the principles found in I Corinthians 13 and other Scripture to improve your marriage.

Here’s a couple of pieces of advice about doing The Love Dare:

– Don’t feel like you have to do it in 40 days. Take a week on each point if you need to. Don’t feel pressure or guilt that you have to get it done “on time”.

– Don’t feel like you have to do it with your spouse. If he/she wants to do it with you, great! But my husband does not even know I own the book. I did it that way on purpose. I didn’t think he would be able to commit to do it because of his travel schedule and I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment.

The happy side effect of this approach is that now I can tell you that it works even if you are the only one putting these changes in effect.  My husband has been blown away by some of the things I’ve been doing because of The Love Dare and his response has been extremely positive.

Ok, I’m going to give you a little something to try in the meantime before you have a chance to get Fireproof from Blockbuster or Netflix and The Love Dare from the store or internet.  The very first assignment in The Love Dare is to show your spouse patience (as in love is patient, etc).  For this assignment, if you choose to accept it, purpose to not say anything negative to your spouse even if it leaves teethmarks on your tongue. This was a big one for me, but the results were almost immediate.

Try it, you’ll see.

I actually just realized that the title of this post is not quite accurate. It does take two to make your marriage better, just not the two I was originally thinking of. It always takes two to change your life – God and you.

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10 Responses to “What I Learned This Week ~ It Doesn’t Always Take Two”

  1. Jessie said

    This is so very true! Thank you for reminding me that I need to check myself on how I’m acting towards my husband. We are definitely not in a low spot in our marriage right now, but I think it never hurts to look at how I’m treating him and responding to him.

  2. Melanie said

    What a fabulous post!
    We watched Fireproof together for Valentine’s Day. Actually we watched on the 13th b/c my man planned to go to a hockey game with a friend. When telling me about his plans, he added, “…since Vday doesn’t mean anything to us anyway.” Yeah…he said it.
    So I just smiled and asked if he would do what I wanted on the 13th instead.
    What a great movie! Thanks for opening up your private world to share this.
    Melanie@Bella~Mella

  3. Carol, I am so thankful for you and the beauty that shines in you because of your obedience to our Lord Jesus!!! It truly is, “Change MY heart, O LORD!” And God is more than happy to oblige! Oh the transformation that God can work in us and through us! I love you! Sylane

  4. Beverlydru said

    How powerful. Thank you for taking the time to write this heart-felt message. I have experienced much of what you are talking about. My husband wasn’t a Christian when I realized there was a lot I could do and should do, starting with laying down my self-righteous attitude. What a journey.

  5. Pam M. said

    Carol,

    Thank you…so,so much. I saw myself very, very clearly throughout this post. There’s a whole lot more I could say, but I won’t. I can’t. But suffice it to say that this was an answer to prayer.

    Again, thank you!

  6. Carol, this is a POWERFUL post. Thanks for sharing. I can see why it took so long to write. You offer some FABULOUS advice here. Thank you.

  7. Dena said

    Awesome post, and something many people needed to read today. Myself included.

  8. Michele said

    This was such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’ve put the movie Fireproof on our Netflix list for my husband and I to watch together.

  9. Melissa said

    Wow- I wanted and needed to hear that the approach you took works – being the one in counseling by myself, trying to change by myself – only – OOPS – God is there too. He led me here, and I now know why. I’ll be back often to check your blog out. Thanks for your honesty and openness to letting God use you!

  10. This is such true advice. When we want to change any relationship – it starts with us and God – and even if the other person doesn’t know what we’re doing – we’ve been the ones changed and blessed.

    Great post!

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