Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'I Think I Married the Wrong Man'

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Over the weekend...

I read an article that had me rolling my eyes as high as they can go. It was entitled "Millennial Trend Forecasting: Beta Testing Marriages". Uh-huh and what is that foolishness? Drum roll:

"We're in beta right now," may one day be used to describe a newlywed couple instead of a new app. Time, on a roll this week in the love department, argues that millennials may change the game when it comes to how we approach marriage.

This comes from a survey given in conjunction with the new USA Network drama, Satisfaction (so not exactly the Brookings Institution). Led by a team of trend researchers, the survey asked 1,000 millennials about their feelings towards, and expectations for, marriage. They also provided a number of "marriage models" and surveyed the millennials on which options they might consider. The models, which would essentially be contract agreements between couples, include:

Presidential: Vows last for another four years, but after 8 years you can elect to choose a new partner.

Real Estate: Marriage licenses are granted on 5, 7, 10 and 30 year terms, after which the marriage must be renegotiated to be extended.

Beta:
The union can be formalized or dissolved after a two-year trial period.

Twenty-one percent said they would be open to the Presidential option and 36% agreed with the Real Estate model. The most popular option was the Beta model with 46% of those surveyed saying they would being willing to consider the option. One of the arguments is that since millennials are used to having many options in every other area of their lives, why would marriage be any different?  


Ugh. Something that I tell people in counseling sessions (when they tell me that they have exhausted all ways to make their marriage work) is "I bet if there were prison sentences for divorce you'd figure it out." Honestly? A hard heart ain't too much better than incarceration; in fact, it's basically just a different form of it: "Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity." (Proverbs 28:14-NKJV) Which is why divorce was allowed in the first place. A HARD HEART (Matthew 19:1-12).

The world is crazy. And delusional. And selfish. They don't do *anything* they way God intended. Marriage included. So, of course, I get why they would come up with some "beta marriage" ridiculousness.

However...

I read an article this morning that speaks that God's intention for marriage and how to stay committed to it entitled "I Think I Married the Wrong Man". It's a S-C-A-P:

Just to quickly clear this up, I definitely didn't marry the wrong man. I am married to an awesome man by the name of Cornelius and he truly loves me like Christ loves the church. He's not PERFECT by any means. but he is sure working on being a better man DAILY as I am too. He's an amazing leader, husband, father & all that other good stuff. He really considers our family and puts us first after God.

But, have I ever thought that I married the wrong person? Um. yes. How many times? Maybe 40-50 times in our 4 years of being married. Especially during our first year of marriage. I thought, Oh, God! I wish I would have married someone that was more like this or that, which was a lie because everybody has an issue so if it's not that issue, it's something else.

Let me just give you some background- as most of you know, we
waited to kiss until our wedding day.  So, you would think that BECAUSE we waited that things would be strawberries and flowers everyday afterwards-- psh, please. I realized even more that first year how IMPORTANT it is to marry a man that really loves Jesus because your marriage is going to get hit with attacks and if you don't have that solid foundation, your marriage may not make it. I seriously believe the ONLY reason that we are married to this day is because of the cross. If Jesus came and died for our sins and gave us an opportunity to be in the right relationship with Jesus-- can we not take on that same example and die to ourselves in our marriage?

Our first year was a rough year. I honestly didn't think we would make it. No, we didn't cheat on each other or anything crazy but we sure went through IT and back.
While courting, my husband worked full time at a "megachurch" and he pretty much was the chief of staff. He ran multiple departments, we had a "special" parking spot at church and had a "reserved" front row seat of a 10,000 seat church. He made great money, had a house, car and purpose. I didn't marry him for those reasons-- I married him because I believed in him, respected him, loved him and because the Lord told me to marry him. I knew that we would eventually leave and start our own ministry, I just didn't know it would be so soon.


While courting, my husband worked full time at a "megachurch" and he pretty much was the chief of staff. He ran multiple departments, we had a "special" parking spot at church and had a "reserved" front row seat of a 10,000 seat church. He made great money, had a house, car and purpose. I didn't marry him for those reasons-- I married him because I believed in him, respected him, loved him and because the Lord told me to marry him. I knew that we would eventually leave and start our own ministry, I just didn't know it would be so soon.

Three months into our marriage, my husband got extremely quiet. For about 2 weeks, he didn't say much of anything to me and it was SO hard! I quickly learned that when he gets really quiet for periods of time, it's because the Lord is dealing with him about something and it's not me (that was a huge struggle, because I didn't want him to be mad at me!). So, by week two-- I got the memo. 

Then, he came to me and told me that the Lord wanted him to quit his job and to move to Mississippi. Huh? Wait, huh? "Well, babe-- I support you. I am excited and I will go find me a pair of cowboy boots and enjoy Mississippi." You see, Cornelius could have told me that we were moving to Alaska and I would have been online looking up snowsuits. I simply believed in my husband and that He is constantly led by the Lord. So, leaving "everything" wasn't the hard part. The hard part was when we actually GOT to Mississippi. No church. No friends. Our old "pretend" friends were talking about us for leaving the church & saying that we missed God

Still trying to figure out how to leave your past, family and whatever else and become "one flesh." It was plain hard. We would get into huge fights because it was just him and I in this tiny 1-bedroom apartment and we weren't used to being together 24-7. I was working from home for a Software Hedge Accounting firm and he would pray and study 7-9 hours a day. It was a huge difference from our life before because our finances really became ONE. Then, we got pregnant. I cried because I didn't want to get pregnant (which was so selfish, but I came from the New York mindset of career first) and Cornelius was super excited. Then, 6 weeks later we miscarried. Then, my step dad suddenly passed away. (My father passed in 2000) Then, my nephew committed suicide, then, my friend suddenly had a brain aneurysm and died. All of these things hits me like a brick. Then, we had to cut back on everything because we were living on one salary so we would argue about money. All of this happened within 6 months of being married. I still didn't really trust him because I was crazy and had been lied to and cheated on by so many guys in my past, I felt like I had to keep tabs on him. He felt the same way and couldn't trust me either. We BOTH didn't do anything to make the other feel this way.. it was just an attack from our old mindset.  We were both a TRAIN WRECK to say the least. After one huge argument, we both screamed at each other, "I WANT A DIVORCE!!!"

As I balled my eyes out in the closet, I started to ponder where I could go. We live in Mississippi. I have no friends. I have nowhere to go. I can afford a hotel room for a night, but we don't really have it, so I felt trapped. I felt like I had no where to go and I felt like nobody understood me. I am stuck in this marriage and we waited to kiss.. & all we do is FIGHT. I learned that becoming "one flesh" wasn't a fairytale and because we had so much crap in our past-- that when we "work out our salvation.." it's going to be HARD sometimes. So as I sat there.. I questioned:


Did I marry the wrong one Lord? Show me God!

"No Heather, you didn't "marry the wrong one. Through this marriage, I will teach you what it means to love the way that I love-- and that is unconditionally. I will use Cornelius to show you your true self so that you can repent of your sin and truly be made in my image. And did you know that I created Cornelius and I can give you the insight on him? On how to deal wisely with him and how to win him over? I created him."

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

God, YOU know Cornelius. I'm over here trying to figure out this man.. and you can show me how to have a peaceful marriage. At WHAT point did I pick up my life Lord? Oh Gosh, I'm so sorry. I repent. Teach me how to be a woman after your own heart in every single way.

Galatians 3:3: How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?


I had picked up my own life at some point and then I started to see the fruit of it. I was operating as a wife in my own human effort and ability and constantly came up short in submission, in loving him, in respecting him and a peaceful marriage. I nagged him, tried to control what he ate, how he dressed and just about everything. What's crazy is this:: I contemplated, "God, did I marry the wrong one?" AS I NAGGED the mess out of my husband. Isn't it ironic how we focus on what the other person "should" be doing while we totally reject and ignore our portion? Even in my selfish prayers of "asking my husband" to change-- God began to really deal with my heart. And, finally I let Him. He began to show me where I was wrong and that he reveals weaknesses in my husband-- not for me to bash him, but for me to pray for him. 

Did you know that when you PRAY for your husband, you're actually praying for yourself? You are one flesh! How beautiful is this? So, I started to bind some things up & I went before the Lord about BOTH of our weaknesses. Instead of bashing Cornelius, I started to pray earnestly for him and I stayed on my face before the Lord. During the day-- if he tried to argue or there was an opportunity to nag-- I would just shut up. I would silently cry out to the Lord and I would go to the bathroom or my quiet time space. "Lord, you know what I've been praying and that conversation didn't line up with my prayers. So, God, give me the grace to love him. Give me the grace to understand him. Show me my ways Jesus. Help me to live for you in everyday." You may be screaming, but "WHAT about YOU Heather?! Why is it that WE always have to change." Well, honey-- somebody has to change. And because you're reading this-- maybe God is encouraging you to be the bigger person & exercise that love muscle? Satan is AFTER your godly relationships. He's AFTER your marriage & you're just letting him tap-dance on your life. STOP it. LOVE back & HARD.

When you get married, you are CLOSE to another person. You see all of their weaknesses, flaws, problems, joys, strengths and struggles. So, what do you do when you're that close? Beat them up and criticize them, or do you get on your face on behalf of your spouse and cry out to God? Some of you are so mad at God because of your marriage that you don't even spend time with Him anymore. You have all together given up on your marriage and God. Sis, it's time to get back to the heart of worship. If you feel far away from God-- someone moved.


James 4:8: "Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world."

So, draw close to God. AND then, He will come close to you. Know that He is always, always, always there. But if He feels far away, you most likely pushed Him to that position while placing things over him. As you continue to read that same verse, it says that your loyalty is divided between God and that wedge is what is separating you from His sweet presence and wisdom.

You may have questions.

1. But Heather, I married an unbeliever. What do I do?

 

Now, this isn't an excuse to marry a unbeliever. If you're dating or engaged to someone you're unequally yoked with-- I encourage you to end that relationship. Don't make excuses that "you're going to save him" because you cannot save him sis. There's a chance that he may never get saved and that he will resent the God you love so much for the next 40 years.

Back to the question-- I know it's hard, but "Win him over with your quiet & gentle spirit." based on 1 Peter 3:4. It won't be easy and it's easier SAID than done but if you want a great marriage, we must do what the bible says in regards to bringing peace to the home.

2. You don't know my husband. He's crazy! He refuses to meet my needs!

 

I can totally understand how you feel. I have felt the same way before. My husbands love language is acts of service & my love language is touch. So, for a LONG time-- I felt like he was ignoring my love language as he ran around doing "acts of service." We have to remember that when we get married, it no longer becomes about "my needs." My best advice would be to stop focusing on what you think he needs to do and focus on Jesus. Yes, its that simple. I watched my marriage change when I stopped nagging my husband, having stinky attitudes, and complaining all the time. Ask the Lord to help you, He's not surprised by whats happening.

3. My husband is cheating on me. What do I do?

 

My heart breaks that you're going through this huge test. I couldn't imagine what you're going through right now. My advice to you would first and foremost is to believe God for reconciliation. If your husband is repentant, try to find counseling collectively & separately. The biggest hurtle with this test is trusting and and forgiveness. FORGIVE people when they sin against you. If you do, your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14, 15). This may seem impossible, but with God's grace, the victim can make it an act of the will in obedience to God's Word. To carry bitterness will affect attitudes, emotions, and the desire to obey God, and it will negatively affect everyday decisions. But the grace of God will greatly minister to your needs. We must let God minister to our needs-- running from your marriage into the arms of another man for payback or quitting on God will get you nowhere. Not forgiving & casting your care on God will birth a unforgiving heart that will soon be tormented with vengeful thoughts, anger, wrath, etc. Then, as God leads, forgiveness and reconciliation can follow. Even if this takes time, every effort must be made to forgive and reconcile. (See Matthew 5:23-24.)

4. How long...do I have to keep doing the right thing until he changes?
 

Well, what is your motive for doing the right thing? For a cookie? I don't mean to be harsh sis, but if your motive is based on conditions, you've already lost the battle. We must do what we do out of real, unconditional love-- not out of a ".. he better respond this way or else" attitude. Although your words change, your demeanor may stay the same-- so he can sense your "funkiness." I'm always reminded of the grace Jesus gives me when I want to withhold grace from my husband.

5. Heather, why are you telling me everything I need to do and you aren't blaming this man!
 

Well, your man isn't reading this, you are sis. Again, lets get the focus off of you & put it on Jesus. Have you given up hope that the Lord can fix your problem? Remember that nothing is impossible for Him. He can restore, heal and give life again.

I love you all, I really do. I want nothing more than to see you joyful and fulfilling the will of God for your life and strife in your relationships could hinder that. If your hardened against your husband then you are also hardened against God. TRUST me that I am taking up my cross on a DAILY basis with my very STRONG personality-husband and praying for him to become more like Christ. You're not alone in this journey.


I know some married women check out the blog. I hope Heather's testimony (I Timothy 4:14-16-AMP) reminds you that God is involved in your marriage with you.

Single ladies, marriage already brings forth it's own specialized warfare. Therefore, marry a good "fighter". Choose a man who is a believer (preferably a disciple-John 8:31-32), who does not violate you before marriage and who does not consider divorce as an option (not as a cliche'---literally). And then still hold this article close. I Corinthians 13:8 tells us that love never fails. So when a divorce happens, that's not love fault. Or God's will. Marital covenant is to be forever.

Because love is of God.

And God has no end.

Luxuriant,

SRW

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