I used to have this recurring daydream: my husband and I are cooking dinner together when a familiar song comes on the radio. He looks at me with that twinkle in his eye and then takes my hand. We dance barefoot across the kitchen floor as our giggling kiddos look-on.
I wanted to be loved like that.
But on this day, I sat on the couch, tears welling up in my eyes. Kris was away on another business trip. My two boys were small and so busy. I was exhausted. I wanted Kris to be home to help me. I needed him. I needed him to pay attention to us. I wanted so much more from him as a husband. Was this what marriage really was?
I grew up watching love stories on TV and listening to country music. I know how it is supposed to go… Gazing longingly into each other’s eyes, the passionate kiss at the end of a romantic stroll down a candlelit street… Why didn’t he look at me with passionate love? Why did I feel so lonely?
As I sat there alone, I began to pray. I am not so sure you would call it prayer as I laid out my wish list for the perfect husband before God. “God, did I marry the wrong one?”
The question stung my heart.
Kris and I were high-school sweethearts. We had always loved being together. We both loved country music and good Italian food and hanging out with friends. But marriage had not gone the way I thought it was supposed to go. It wasn’t easy. We fought a lot. And our romantic dinners were pretty much non-existent (unless you include eating at a restaurant with 2 toddlers who threw the majority of their food on the floor or in my lap). Was this what marriage was about?
The only thing I knew for sure was I wanted more.
So I prayed. I prayed for him… to change. And the Lord answered. He simply said, “And what about you?” I was taken aback. “Lord, I am not the problem here!” I argued indignantly. But the question hung in the air, thick and heavy.
“All the days ordained for me were
written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
God’s word says He knew my entire life story before I was even born. He knew that on July 24, 1999 I would marry my high-school sweetheart. And he also knew I would one day question it. I began to question everything I had once thought about marriage. Maybe marriage wasn’t about living ‘happily ever after’.
Maybe my marriage wasn’t all about me.
I am a sinner saved by grace. There is so much about me that I wish were better. I am short-tempered and impatient and selfish. I think too much about what other people think about me. I want my own way to be the only way. And I have prayed that God would change me from the inside out. I have pleaded with Him to give me patience and compassion and love for others. What if my marriage is the answer to those prayers?
In his book Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas says my spouse “might be difficult to love at times, but that’s what marriage is for—to teach us how to love.”
God gave me a partner who stood in front of a church full of people and pledged to stay by my side for better or worse. When I get angry with him, it is like a God-given opportunity to learn how to deal with anger. When I get frustrated with him, it is an opportunity to practice patience. His faults are my opportunity to show compassion and grace. His imperfections are my opportunity to practice unconditional love. My husband is a gift of grace from a loving and knowing God.
These truths washed over me like a tidal wave, crashing over my heart, and again, I prayed…
“Lord, teach me how to love my husband.”
God answers prayer. As I spoke encouraging words to my husband, I felt more love for him. It was like my words reminded me of all that was good about my husband. As I told him how much I respected, that he was a good father, and employee and husband, my heart was reminded that my words were true.
Learning to love has not been easy. My selfishness always tries to steal the stage, but every day, I get to choose to love. I can choose to pick on his faults while expecting him to overlook mine, or I can recognize him as a precious child of God and love him, faults and all…the same way I hope to be loved.
My husband is a perfect gift from a Sovereign God who loves me.
We recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in Nashville, TN with our two boys, now 11 and 9 years old. That afternoon in our hotel room, a familiar song came on the radio and my husband took my hand and we danced, right there on that stiff hotel carpet. Our boys giggled as they looked on. There is no one on this earth who loves me more than my husband. I feel it every time he takes my hand to pray. I am so thankful to the Lord for teaching us how to love.