Wow. Marriage. Some of you have already stopped reading. Others of you have an eyebrow raised, wondering what this stay-at-home mom could possibly say about marriage that you don’t already know. Still others of you are skimming these words, anxiously hoping there might be some nugget of wisdom you can apply to your own situation. Trust me. I’ve been there. I have been each of the women above at some point in my marriage.
Especially on my heart is the one who is broken and looking for hope and wisdom in these words. I have SO been there. I am still often there. I am still often broken and seeking wisdom in any place I might glean it. If not on marriage there always seems to be something. Something I don’t have a clue how to handle. My advice for you? Look to the only One who actually has answers. I am just a woman who is walking through life just like you. A woman who is sharing the little things that have helped me along the way, earnestly hoping that something I say helps your hurt. The one thing I do know is Jesus is the answer to every issue, hurt, problem and question. Seek Him.
My marriage hasn’t been easy. I don’t really know of anyone whose marriage always is. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, every marriage has issues. At the base, it is a relationship. Relationships are built on two people who are a part of each other’s lives. Relationships–real ones, lasting ones–have conflict because they are made of two independent people who are trying to mesh two sets of thoughts and feelings. Sometimes that isn’t smooth.
I’m not a counselor. I suggest if you are having marital issues, go find one. A good one. A godly one. I did, and it (along with a ton of hard work and choices) saved my marriage. But there are also four things I am going to share with you that I have learned. I’m not going to give much detail on my situation. Just suffice it to say that life has been hard for my husband and I at times. But I love him. I respect him as best a very control freak woman can (and I am trying every day to let go and respect him with trust), and every day I am so grateful that God chose him for me. I have listened and stayed. He has given me three beautiful children, and he works hard and does his best for us. We are both learning how best to love each other. You never stop changing as a person. SO your marriage has to change too. Mine does anyway.
SO, here are my four things:
1. You can change one person in your lifetime. One. You. That’s right. You can ONLY EVER CHANGE YOU. Your responses. What you choose to hold onto. What you choose to see in people. What you think. How you react. So, spend your lifetime becoming the person you want to be remembered as. The person whom you will be proud of. If you are actively trying to be the best you, there is little for others to justifiably complain about. Because ultimately isn’t that all we can expect from each other? Our best?
2. Make God the focus. Not each other. Not the kids. Not retirement. Not wealth. Not circumstance. Nothing else. Ultimately, ALL of that will change and continue to change. Spouses change…some even leave us or hurt us or sadly even die. Kids grow up. Retirement? Who knows about that? Wealth is one of those things where the goal is going to continually be out of reach. Your circumstances are often out of your own control. The ONLY constant is God. I like to picture it as God being this super tall rock, unmoving against whatever comes against it. If I cling to the rock (or, in my case, often climb under it and hide), I will be OK. If you are clinging to the rock WITH your spouse….well, your strength to hold on is doubled right?
3. Surround yourself with the people and media that will become part of the army in fighting FOR your marriage vs. telling you it’s OK to give up. I am NOT suggesting ANY WOMAN (or man) STAY IN AN ABUSIVE MARRIAGE. EVER. But so many marriages end because parting ways looks and sounds easier than the fight to stay together. That may even be true. But if you surround yourself with the positive voices, the others seem to quiet. For me, that was a podcast by Pastor Andy Stanley called “Staying In Love.” And it was a small group of very strong Christian women who had strong positive voices and prayed, cried, and battled right along with me. These women became invaluable to me. I couldn’t do this mothering thing, this life thing, and especially not this marriage thing without their battle cries backing me at the foot of the cross.
4. Breathe. I have this written on my desk, on my phone, in my car, on my bathroom mirror…I’m considering getting it tattooed on myself where I can see it all the time. DEEP BREATHS, ladies. EVERYTHING is sooooo much easier to handle when we are calm. It’s what we tell our kids to do when they get worked up. It. just. helps. And we as mommies are tired. We’re frazzled and when your guy–God love ‘im–walks all over your clean floor with muddy boots, forgets your birthday, “can’t hear” the crying baby or falls asleep before you even finish saying : “Hey honey, It’s been a while since we…” it’s super easy to come unglued. BREATHING helps. It focuses your mind and gives you just a second. It gives your spouse a chance to see you trying to control your reaction.
SO, that is what I have learned in eleven years of marriage. Trust me, though, I am still learning. If my husband read this, he would probably suffocate, trying to suppress laughter or something. I am CERTAINLY NOT the picture of all of the above. I do not follow my own advice much of the time. But I do know this stuff is true. And that when I DO remember the lessons I have learned, things work better.
Good luck girls. Marriage is hard. Any way you cut it, takes work. It’s exhausting. And yet, so worth the effort.
Kayla Wells was a member of Bigfork MOPS for 4 1/2 years and served on the steering team for 3 years. She is married to Dan and is a mom to three. You can find her at Mommy’s Soapbox.