When I settled on marriage as one of my March themes for Year of Healthy, I had no intention of actually writing about it. I mentioned that it was extremely personal, and I hadn’t been released to from God or my husband. Then one weekend, while talking with Chris, we were going over how we both have had some wins lately. In our marriage and out of our marriage. We recognized that it was because of God and openly gave Him praise. Then I started to think about some of the advice I’ve been given throughout our marriage. What worked and what didn’t work. I thought about the research I did when I was struggling and what I found and what I didn’t find. One of the things that I did not see was someone that was in the middle of difficulties and what they did. So many people gave advice multiple years removed from their struggles. The frustrating part would be, when they reminisced about having a difficult time, but couldn’t tell you how they overcame them. I vividly remember only two people that were able to give me advice on what they did (I will mention that these two people, we look to as wise counsel, and they have sat with us multiple times, mostly individually). So after talking to Chris about that, I told him I wanted to share our “in the middle.” He gave me his blessing, and I believe, that, and the fact that this even popped into my mind, was God’s way of saying do it. I will say this will obviously be written from my perspective and thoughts. Chris will read it before it’s published (as he does any post where he is mentioned, or the information may be sensitive to us – like when finance was my topic). My goal is to write in such a way that I don’t have to remove anything.
Very Little Background
Today, we are celebrating eight years of marriage. In the midst of 2019, I would have told you that each year was getting harder. Before marriage, I was someone who was driven, strong-willed, and a planner. I knew exactly how I wanted my life to go, and I followed that plan. And expected it to continue when I got married. But the first three years, disrupted that plan. Now to be fair, I want to point out that we had some outside factors that impacted our marriage that we could not prevent. The first three years were lived in a blur. Those first three years, we were in survival mode and didn’t have time to have problems. Once things settled, though, that is when our problems started. The next five years were hell because we refused to deal with those earlier issues or communicate at all.
But I also thought I knew what was right. That plan I created? Even though things didn’t go that way, I expected us to get back on track. And when it didn’t happen, I focused on other things. But because I wasn’t successful at being a wife, I started questioning every other role in my life. I eventually lost who I was. Now, this wasn’t at the fault of my husband. More so from what I exposed myself to. Other people and marriages that I was trying to mimic ours around. Things that I wanted to do that were discouraged. Somethings I didn’t want to do, that was pushed on me. I was so unhappy that I was willing to change anything. So I tried to do what I saw people who appeared to be happy do. This is the dangerous part of building a community. I got to a point where I couldn’t take any of it anymore. If you have read some of my previous posts, you will know that in 2019, I left for what I call a sabbatical. During that time, I strengthened my relationship with God and dived into His Word. I focused on me. I had to work through all of this when I realized I didn’t know who I was anymore. I couldn’t tell you what I liked. And what I could come up with (for example reading), I hadn’t done in ages. It was time for a change, so I started working on me.
But I Can Change Him
Now, some advice that I have been given a bunch of times was I can’t change Chris. And I tried to—a lot. I fought against this advice because I wasn’t the problem. He was, and he had all types of issues to work out. It took me a while, but I realized that this was toxic thinking. Because I was trying to make myself out to be perfect. I was also speaking horribly over my life partner. And let’s be real, the problems in our marriage, clearly showed that HIS issues were really OUR issues. So all of the years, I spent trying to get him to change was wasted. Because guess what? You can’t change another person. Well, you kind of can, but we will get to that in a second. But one thing you can for sure change is yourself. Give me a moment to explain because if you were like me, you are probably yelling at your screen, saying, “I am not the problem!”
After a million times trying to change Chris, I gave up. It was exhausting; I was drained; I was tired. I decided to become selfish. But in a good way. I went searching for things that bought me joy. Because of my personality, a lot of that ended up being self-improvement things. I was reading again. I was listening to podcasts. What I was watching on T.V. was either educational or funny. Now, to be completely honest, this was shortly after a time where God was convicting me on the useless things I allowed to come into my spirit. I wasn’t listening to secular music. I wasn’t watching movies with a bunch of cursing and sex scenes. But I want to be clear that although this is something that God convicted me on, it ended up helping me find me and what I enjoyed again. I also focused on how each thing could be applied to my life and what changes I could make because of what I was taking in. This became a big part of why I created this blog and what I try and showcase. How I saw things and thought about things was changing. What I worried and stressed over was changing. And then I realized, maybe how I was handling my marriage was wrong. So my prayer became, God, how can I become the wife you need me to be for Chris? I finally realized that Chris wasn’t going to change. But I could. I was already starting to see what focusing on me was doing. What would happen if instead of doing this for me, I did it for my marriage? My relationships with others? My community? I started to focus on being a better person for others after I took the time to focus on me.
That’s Great And All But What About My Marriage
Now our marriage didn’t magically become better. I had moments where I slipped up. Things were still pretty rough. But after one particularly bad argument, we were told to do somethings that I think added to the work I was already doing. We were told to do a daily devotional together. And for Chris to pray out loud for me every day. We were giving some other things to do, but those two things are what we were told to start with that we are currently doing. We are doing the Kingdom Marriage Devotional by Tony Evans (I’m also reading the book on my own). The devotional is formated in a brief 1 1/2 page devotional, three application questions, and a prayer. Specifically, the questions have allowed us to be open and honest and communicate with each other about things that are important to our marriage. Things that we had long forgotten about or just didn’t seem relevant to each other. This paved the way for conversations that came from our answers, us sharing our concerns, and just being able to talk again. It was a safe space to say, “this is the problem I have, and I would like to work through it.” We always add to the prayer that Dr. Evans gives and try to cover things that we spoke about in our answers. Chris also prays over me before he leaves for work. This has made me feel loved and appreciated. We have started to dream again and talk about goals. The important part is we are back communicating.
We are a long way from our problems being fixed. We still have to do work every single day. But we see fruit from this. In our marriage and our individual lives. I think this is because we finally found the right order to things (thanks to the book). My husband had to come under submission to Christ as the head of our household. Not saying that wasn’t done previously, but it wasn’t done with intentionality and wholeheartedly. At the same time (and that part is essential), I had to come under the submission of my husband. Now I have always believed in the husband being the head of the household. But my actions didn’t always show this. I mentioned I was a strong-willed and driven person. So I thought I knew best and didn’t honestly want to hear my husband’s opinion. This was wrong in so many ways, but mainly because we are in a partnership, and I shouldn’t discount his thoughts and suggestions. I was, also, 100 times nicer and more accepting of other people’s views and opinions outside my home. But what I have learned from this is, the more I come under actual submission under Chris, the more apparent it is that we really are in this together. He isn’t trying to rule me. He listens to my ideas, and we, as a couple, create a solution.
Speak Life and Praise God
Changing my thought life and what I speak, also helped a ton. I wrote about affirmations and manifesting before, but I started to put this into action. I began to talk to Chris like the man and husband I knew he could be through Christ. I spoke positively about our marriage. I spoke scripture over us. I asked God to let me be a wife that Chris can love, and he be the husband that I could respect. (Ephesians 5:33) Allow us to be indeed one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) Allow us to fulfill our marital duties to each other. (1 Corinthians 7:3). I also spoke some specific scripture over the goals we had together and individually. And actually, in my Bible reading now, I specifically look for things that I can turn into prayers and affirmations. Characteristics of people that God found righteous. Verses that speak to our identity in Christ. So…many…proverbs. I was previously one of those people that was making prayer so hard, and therefore, I struggled. But God’s Word is so full of things that we can pray over ourselves and our loved ones. This has made such a huge difference in how I have felt, how I look at situations, and how I handle things. I am still not 100%, but I’ve come a long way, and it’s important to acknowledge that.
Lastly, it is important to give praise and honor to God for what He is doing in our marriage and our lives. I make it a point to thank Him daily (multiple times a day really) for what He is doing. Even if that particular day was terrible, I still thank Him for the work He is doing in our marriage and lives. This frequently leads to me being thankful for other things and talking to God about what He is doing and His attributes. I never want to forget who it was that made this happen. Who allowed us to be able to do the work. I know for me specifically, when I turned to build my relationship and foundation with God, and then when we brought Him into our marriage, mountains moved. And to think, it started with me realizing that no, I couldn’t change him, but God could if He saw fit. Thank God that He ended up changing us both.
Tl;dr? Marriage is hard. We are in the middle of one now. Here is what we are doing:
*Get closer to God. Get selfish. Focus on you and start doing what brings you joy.
*Don’t mimic other marriages.
*Pray about how YOU can change and do better
*Do a daily devotional with your husband. Preferably, one with questions.
*Have your husband pray over you, out loud, each day.
*Get your house in order, and both of you come under submission: Christ -> Husband -> Wife
*Speak life into your husband and pray scripture over them.
*Give praise and honor to God along the way.