A newlywed bride wrote to me recently and made this comment,
“Respect is SO MUCH HARDER for me now that we are married.”
I had no problem respecting Greg before we were married. All I saw were things to respect about him.
Then we got married.
It took all of one week for things to quickly go downhill for us.
- Greg had just graduated from college with a chemical engineering job. It took 6 years for him to find an engineering job.
- I severely sprained my lower back the week after we got married when I was bending down painting shelves.
- Greg and his dad were working on a house for us to stay in – and they worked on that house after work every day 6 days per week until 1:00am for the first 3 months of our marriage.
- There were other issues that I am not at liberty to discuss – but – they made things much more difficult.
- Greg stopped talking to me, stopped touching me – and just fell into bed every night and turned away from me and went to sleep.
- I cried every day. I was afraid my back would never get better. I couldn’t even get out of bed or put my shoes on without help. I had been used to talking with Greg an hour on the phone every day. Now he didn’t talk with me at all. I was convinced he hated me. I didn’t understand what happened to the man who loved me so much.
- I had never really experienced not getting my way – I didn’t respond gracefully AT ALL!
I know now that he was exhausted. He had never seen me like this before. He was afraid to touch me because he knew he would hurt my back (which he would have, my back was extremely fragile). But he just began rejecting me and didn’t say why. He was trying to get the house done, thinking then I would be happy. I begged him to stop working by 10pm each night so we could have some time together. He kept working on the house.
I was just sure that I had made the biggest mistake of my life.
I lost respect for him.
Things got better at times. They were better when the work on the house stopped, that’s for sure. But – Greg began to shut down that summer – and I took over. I thought I had to. I didn’t understand Greg’s silence. I didn’t understand his motives. I assumed he had a lot of evil motives. I seriously believed he was purposely trying to hurt me as much as possible. I know now that wasn’t true. I know now that he loved me deeply, but that he didn’t know how to make things better. He was trying to show me he loved me by fixing up the house. I didn’t see that as being his love for me. Then his job situation was very difficult for him, too. Much more than I understood at the time.
If I had known then what I know now – I believe I could have responded very differently – and that summer wouldn’t have been as horrible as it was for me – or for him. It would have still been difficult. But – I knew none of God’s design for marriage that I know today and I didn’t understand Greg’s heart. I had been so prideful thinking, “We’ll never have marriage problems or conflict like other people! We have the best relationship ever!”
Pride comes before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
DOES THAT MEAN WE SHOULDN’T GET MARRIED?
NOT AT ALL!!!!!!!
I am SO thankful every day that I am married to Greg. I had no idea what I was actually agreeing to when we got married. Things could have been a lot better if I had understood God’s ways before we got married, or if I had someone to walk me through our first summer in a godly way.
- God uses marriage to make us HOLY. That is His primary interest. That – and, He wants to use marriage for His glory – to demonstrate the profound mystery of the intimacy between Christ and the church.
If we can enter marriage with biblical understanding, realistic/balanced expectations, an acceptance that we will be prepared to give much grace/mercy/forgiveness/unconditional love/unconditional respect, a willingness to die to self, and if we understand how different men are from women and what God’s design is for marriage – then, I believe, we will be most prepared.
In my view, dating does NOT prepare people well for marriage:
- people almost always look their best and are on their best behavior
- there are no shared struggles, generally
- you don’t have to be able to work well as a team
- you probably don’t see each other at your worst very often
- you don’t have joint responsibilities
- you can always quit and leave if you don’t like how things are going
Some things that make respecting your man more difficult in marriage
- his sin – which will be magnified when you are married. The things that endeared you to your man can become annoying over time once you are married. Those little habits and mannerisms. There will be ample opportunities to learn to look at your man through GRACE-FILLED eyes and to learn to truly love him as God loves him with no strings attached.
- your own sin – which will be magnified when you are married. You cannot begin to fathom how selfish and prideful you are until you get married. Then, you have children – and learn that there was even more selfishness and pride!
- not having time to take a break to cool off and regroup
- being totally dependent on each other financially
- having to share the same space and share chores – each person has different expectations of what that should look like
- unemployment issues
- having children
- having different ways of wanting to do things. It is easy to assume the other person is “wrong” for being different.
- family turmoil – relationship issues with extended family
- financial hardships
- vastly different expectations of what being married is supposed to mean
- different sex drives
- different schedules – trying to coordinate being together can be TOUGH if one person is on 2nd shift or 3rd shift and the other is on 1st shift.
- different values and priorities
- different cultural expectations
- our sin nature – as women, we are daughters of Eve. We will have the desire to rule over our husbands. That is part of the consequence of the Fall. It is a battle to keep that desire to control and be in charge in check.
Marriage changes people. Dramatically. Life changes people over the course of a marriage.
Marriage requires compromise, flexibility and dying to self on a level that you just don’t experience during dating or engagement
Once you are married, you are depending on your husband for SO MUCH MORE than ever before. If you are used to always getting your way in life and making your own decisions – this can be a very difficult adjustment. Suddenly, it is a group project, but you are not always going to agree.
Biblical submission is HARD! It requires dying to self and it is painful!!! When you don’t agree with your husband, and you share what you want and how you feel, but he decides it is best to do something else – it can be terrifying at first. I believe this is one of the biggest tests of faith a woman ever experiences, “Is God ‘sovereign enough’ to lead me through this imperfect man?'”
Doing things God’s way is SO counter-cultural, counter-intuitive and anti-human wisdom. But the rewards are INCREDIBLE! Part of this is the sanctification process – the way that we learn to apply all of the spiritual riches and blessings God gave us at the moment of our salvation. This is the process of us becoming more and more like Christ and learning to live in His power not our own strength for His greatest glory alone.
Difficulties in life force us to learn to depend on God, trust His wisdom, stay 100% submitted to Christ and keep Christ on the throne – if we are willing to seek God’s will through our suffering and trials.
Marriage God’s way – LIFE God’s way – brings the greatest peace, joy and sense of purpose and strength that you could ever imagine.
A FEW OF THE REWARDS:
- becoming more and more the woman God desires you to be
- watching God work in your man to become the man He desires him to be
- learning to work together as a real, unified team
- learning to do things God’s way and to see the spiritual, emotional, sexual, financial benefits of our obedience to God in marriage
- having the honor of portraying the mystery of Christ’s relationship with His church to the world to draw people to Christ – WOW!
- the more I understand marriage, the more I understand masculinity – the more I begin to scratch the surface of understanding God’s love, His heart and His wisdom
- sharing God’s wisdom, truth, power and blessings with others and watching God dramatically transform their lives, too
- raising children together to know, love and serve God and to watch them begin their own journeys of faith
- a level of spiritual, emotional, mental and sexual intimacy is possible through God in marriage that is unparalleled anywhere else