“Is this the man I married?!”
The thought rang between my ears as I choked down the anger and panic that was quickly rising up my throat.
My husband is a rock. Truly, he is the most consistent person I know. Every day of marriage, I have greater assurance that I know exactly who he is and how he’ll respond in any given situation. And then one night, he reacted in a way that shocked me. A way that I did not like. A way that hurt my feelings and made me angry.
So, I instantly freaked. “IS THIS THE MAN I MARRIED?”
If you go into marriage with any sort of counseling, you know that your spouse is going to change.
The goal of marriage is to continue to love and stay committed to a person who is guaranteed to change over the course of your lifetime. And yet I still found myself surprised when my husband didn’t act like I know him to act. It freaked me out. Though he was quick to apologize, it took me days to let go of the sting and probably a couple weeks for me to really forgive. It wasn’t pretty.
Recently, I was prompted to do an exercise where I wrote Tyler a letter to describe how one of his weaknesses was actually a blessing in my life. In other words, how has God has used Tyler (strengths and weaknesses) to make me look more like Jesus? I wrote about that fight and it was eye opening. Even though Tyler did something that wasn’t pretty– gasp, he’s actually an imperfect sinner just like everyone else in the world– I was the one who was far more egregious.
My view of our marriage was performance-based.
The reason that situation sent me into a tail-spin was because, in my mind, the success of our marriage was rooted in our performance. Tyler serves me. I serve him. We like each other. We’re happy. We get along. We have fun. Everything is easy. And thus, our marriage was a good one, a successful one.
But the moment Tyler didn’t perform the way I wanted– our happy, healthy marriage was threatened. Suddenly everything was uprooted and I began to panic that my husband wasn’t who I thought he was, because God-forbid, he was inconsistent– or another way to say that: human.
A performance-based marriage is a marriage set to fail.
No two humans on the planet can consistently perform in a way to keep their spouse happy and their marriage intact. It’s completely impossible. Hence why we have so many divorces and remarriages. No one will ever perform enough (long enough, good enough, consistently enough) to make one marriage last a life time. While this is insanely obvious to us, this is what most of us do–and it was exactly what I was doing in that moment.
A faith-based marriage is a marriage made to last.
A faith-based relationship does not focus on the human performance of one’s spouse, but on God’s character, promises and faithfulness. (Don and Sally Meredith, 2 Becoming One)
A faith-based marriage, trusts implicitly that when your spouse hurts you, angers you, or fails you in anyway, God will still meet your needs. The stability and success of your marriage is no longer based on your spouses’ (or—ahem— your) strengths and weaknesses, but on God’s strength, faithfulness, and His plan for marriage.
When my perception of our marriage is based on faith in God, I am able to respond to Tyler with grace and forgiveness instead of anger and hurt. Our marriage isn’t threatened when Tyler doesn’t act the way I expect him to. Instead, it’s a reminder that we are both flawed humans, both in need of forgiveness, and desperately need Jesus at the center of our relationship.
So, the next time I start to freak, “Is this the man I married?!” I can take a deep breath, say a quick prayer and say, “Yep. And my God is still the same God He’s always been and always will be. And He will carry us through this.”