My husband and I are celebrating our 12th anniversary this week, which means I am finally qualified to teach a beginner course on marriage.
As I look back over this past twelve years, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the man I was smart enough to say yes to.
He is kind, generous, and patient.
If I were to rate our marriage, I would put it right up at 9.98 out of 10.
I am one lucky girl!
It is so easy to look at my marriage as a whole and feel thankfulness because there is so much to be thankful for.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t find myself trapped in the moments of dissatisfaction and anger.
In the moments when he is not making the choices I would prefer, or doing things exactly the way I would do them, I get so irritated with him!
Our husbands are imperfect, often frustrating, and sometimes disappointing human beings.
Of, course, so are we (but that’s not the point of this article, now, is it?).
I knew my husband wasn’t perfect when I married him, yet I still struggle to accept his imperfections with grace and humility.
The problem is the fact that I tend to fixate on the things that disappoint me, the things that I wish I could change, rather than practicing thankfulness for the man I chose to marry.
Thankfulness is a tricky thing to capture and hold onto.
I am going to illustrate this point by asking you to do something for me.
Next time you are in your family home, sit down and take stock of the things you love about your house.
Is it just big enough, or does it have a beautiful kitchen or the perfect little sunny window?
Whatever you LOVE about your house, take notice of it and practice thankfulness.
Doesn’t it feel good to be grateful for what you have?
Here is what will inevitably follow that moment of thankfulness.
It will be overshadowed by the things you hate about your house, the things you wish you could change!
If you are anything like me, the moment I am done practicing thankfulness it disappears.
If I manage to hold onto it for a while, all it takes is a visit to a friend’s house where I can take stock of all of the things they have that I don’t, and back into the pit I go.
I hope the house illustration has helped you grasp what I am trying to say here.
It is just easier to be unhappy and dissatisfied than it is to consistently practice thankfulness.
It is a trap, and it is destroying our marriages.
The problem lies in the fact that our husbands will crumble under the constant pressure to perform in a way that suits us.
No matter what they say or do, most husbands desperately love their wives and want to provide them with everything their pretty little heart’s desire.
They may act all tough and unemotional, but the fact of the matter is that they are as sensitive as we are.
They want to be everything we need them to be, but are our unrealistic expectations crushing them?
Have you ever exasperated them to the point where they just give up?
I know I have!
My husband is such a saint (seriously, ask my friends….he’s annoyingly perfect).
Do you know what he does when I am being completely unreasonable and emotional?
He starts cleaning my house and doing the dishes.
I know I have pushed him too hard when he starts cleaning!
I bet you wish your husband did that when you were mad at him, but it is SO FRUSTRATING!
It is his way of showing me how absolutely wonderful he really is, and it just melts all the anger away from my heart.
It reminds me that I am thankful for this man, and no matter what he has done to frustrate me, my life is 1,000 times better because he is in it.
It is in these moments of clarity, I realize what a fool I have been.
So, what does the Bible have to say about overcoming our tendency to focus on the negative and learning to accept our husbands flaws and all?
Here are 10 lessons straight out of the Scriptures that I have found to be incredibly helpful in my own marriage:
1. Troubles are an opportunity for great joy!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-6 NIV
2. Satan wants to destroy our marriages.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:7-9 NIV
3. Peace comes from God alone.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:1, 27 NIV
4. God has compassion on us and comforts us.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Cor 1:3-4 NIV
5. Don’t allow bitterness to take root.
For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity. Acts 8:23 NKJV
6. Always choose kindness and forgiveness.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:31-32 NKJV
7. As far as it depends on you…live at peace.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Rom 12:17-18 NIV
8. Have an eternal perspective in your marriage.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-8 NIV
9. Fear Not! You are God’s (first and foremost).
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isa 43:1 NIV
10. Don’t be surprised when trials come.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-14 NIV
Our husbands are never going to perfect.
We are never going to be perfect.
But, by the grace of God, we can learn to practice thankfulness and resist the urge to focus on each other’s shortcomings.