When Resentment Creeps into Your Marriage

lonelycouple

There’s a longing deep within to be known. It’s our design, and even if we choose solitude, we eventually feel the quiet nudge to engage with others after a while. To come back to community. To join the conversation again.

Scripture weaves patterns of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit esteeming each other throughout time. They respect. They delight. Oh, to be others-centered…

This need to be loved, and to have someone to care for, was etched on our hearts before we entered the world.  We’re image-bearers of God, and we crave that rhythm of relationship — like Father and Son and Spirit have done before the dawn of time.

Sometimes we’re brought to tears, overwhelmed by God’s provision in our lives. Sometimes we ache in silence, for an unmet longing is so deep we can’t find words.

We bring this part of us, the need for companionship, into marriage.  We sigh in relief that we won’t have to spend the rest of our lives alone. We feast on security, anticipating waking up and saying goodnight to the same person at our side — morning after morning, night after night.  We feel wanted, pursued, chosen above all others.  We have a security blanket when we walk among crowds.

Like any other good thing, the sin of our unraveling world taints relationships, too, for I’m tempted daily to make marriage all about me.  Did you catch that last paragraph?  I don’t have to be alone.  I’m secure with a constant companion. I’m wanted, pursued, chosen. I have someone at my side when I’m uncomfortable.

And without realizing it, my marriage becomes an exercise in self-absorption instead of a covenant of sacrifice. And my control of this companionship — to keep it just the way I “need” it to be — well, it consumes every part of me.  My identity is found in this union, in this person, in my dreams for our future. And this desperate obsession makes me say and do things I wouldn’t normally do.

One of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself is the challenge to view my husband as my brother in Christ rather than my identity-giver. When you find your identity in your husband, and in his public face, and in the ways others like him — your world eventually crashes because your husband is real.  And broken. He’s just this authentic guy who desperately needs a Savior, too.

I wish I would have tasted this freedom when we were walking our marriage path those first few steps. But it took me 15 years to wake up to this, and I’ve spent the last three wrestling with what this freedom looks like on a daily basis.

When I view him this way — a sinner thirsty for grace, too — my expectations start to embarrass me. My need to control now feels like bullying. My self-absorption begins to look very, very ugly.

How do we navigate the tension of discovering truth and not cowering in shame? How do we respond when light uncovers the ugly secrets, and yet not bow to self-hatred that leads us to hide? Sin and isolation — they’re a dangerous, dangerous combination.

As the Gospel unfolds in my life, day after day, I do see my sin more easily. But my wretchedness is swallowed up in the shadow of the Cross, and that Cross points me toward my Rescuer rather than toward self-loathing. My Redeemer becomes all the more beautiful as I recognize how much I need Him.

And my husband, well, he’s right there beside me taking in Christ’s beauty instead of saving me.

I find myself, quite often, starting to look again at this man for worth and identity and wholeness, but Christ whispers. And He woos my focus back to Him and His grace. The job of Savior is already taken. It’s unfair and destructive to ask my husband to play that role.

And when I’m focused on my Redeemer, my world isn’t rocked when my husband messes up. I’m not surprised by sin because, again, he’s my brother in Christ.  He’s part of this Body of Christ whose life needs redemption as much as mine does.

Grace poured into a relationship — day after day, month after month, year after year — can be quite healing, quite freeing. And the Master Artist — He’s still going at it, adding to our canvas that’s anything but blank.

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These thoughts, in their original form, appeared as part of the Girls’ Night Out series over at Stooping for Manna.  There’s lots and lots of wisdom being shared as different women reveal their lessons learned every day this month.  Grab some coffee and see life through someone else’s perspective.

 

When the Journey Gets A Little Complicated

cobblestone

I walk the uneven path, the one that taunts with ice in winter and weeds in spring.

You’ve walked it, too, I think.

The only way to avoid the fragments is to stand still.  But sometimes walking through the ugly is easier than pausing and taking it all in.

I must keep going, for if I rest and ponder, reality will overwhelm.  And it won’t feel like rest at all.  Where’s the rest for the heart?

I was made to journey, and the pull of my soul toward eternity is insatiable.  Is there no other way to the dawn of forever?  No other story written for me?

I take another step, looking down.  I have to see the brokenness.  I have to feel it under me, for as ugly as it is, the fragments are my story.

And what’s living when you avoid what’s true? What type of life jumps ahead to the epilogue, refusing to read the tainted chapters pointing toward redemption? Refusing to reconcile the broken?

To move forward, you must see the ugly.  Must study it.  Must read it over and over again to understand what you’d initially rather ignore.

Ignorance is bliss.  But it’s not wholeness.  

Some days, or even weeks, I crave the shallow perfection and find an empty rhythm.  I ignore my path’s cracks and ponder everyone else’s.  It’s safer to judge or clean up someone else’s mess than look at your own.

But the masked fragments, the broken edges — they just grow more drama.  And they foster weeds so strong, they’ll choke you when you’re not looking.  They’ll choke you when you are.

I beg the Rescuer to smooth it all out, to even the path.

He won’t look away as He watches me from the edge of eternity with a gaze so intense I know I belong to Him.  His eyes smile, but his countenance is serious and strong and full of power, and I know in that moment He’s created me to walk on.

I shake my head as my eyes spill tears, and His eyes — they don’t stop smiling.  But His face is so, so strong and firm.  My fear and my grief don’t change Him.  My longing doesn’t change His countenance of peace.  Or His intensity.

He nods — ever so slightly — and I step forward.  His gaze pulls me on and whispers, “The ending will find fulfillment only when the fragments come together.”

And in that moment I remember.  This is My body that’s broken for you.

How quickly I forget.  He’s choked on bitterness and judgment and confusion before.  His broken body hung in fragments, and it haunts my thoughts. I forgot.  My goodness, I forgot for a moment.

What’s resurrection without the dying?  What’s redemption without the unraveling?  What’s everlasting peace without the broken, uneven path leading me there?

The Eternal sustains all who stumble on their way. For those who are broken down, God is near. He raises them up in hope.  Psalm 145:14

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