“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping.”1 – King Solomon
I became a mother in May of 2008. One of the most unexpected things that came along with motherhood was a grimacing realization that I loved my kids a lot more than I loved my husband. I kept ignoring it or justifying it. My babies felt like my breath, my life. It was effortless, unconditional mama love. It didn’t matter what my kids did, I still loved them. It did matter what JT did. With more effort than I cared to give, I un-loved him conditionally and with expectations.
I didn’t have the courage to confess this unbecoming sin until a year ago. Confession is powerful and healing. We shared an unhappy 13th anniversary. Most of our anniversaries, historically, have been conflicted. I was hanging onto an ideal of marriage by a thread clenched between my gritted teeth. I saw a piece of décor that said, “All of me loves all of you.” Inside my head, I cynically laughed and hopelessly sobbed – at one time. My heart was both rigid and broken. Sadly, that painted wood decor should have read, “Most of me is critical of most of you.”
Determined to Love him, I set about to tuck myself away in order to war for my marriage. I prayed. I cried a lot. I hoped even more. I lived and breathed prayer for me, for him, for us. It was in these months when My Savior became my only confidant. I spoke very little to JT, because I realized the majority of my words to him were criticisms, judgments, or nagging. I had become his self-appointed, angry therapist knowing what was best for him. His very own unholy spirit to criticize his every move.
For six months I had one prayer. “O Father, may I see JT the way you see him?”
One beautiful day in May of 2017, Our Father saw fit to give me a glimpse of what He sees in JT. The gift of perspective was finally mine to open, to see and to Love. That holy glimpse earthquaked through my heart and subsequently, our marriage.
These last months have been a grueling battle between Love and my pride. But it’s worth it. The constant dripping of my criticism has turned into a fountain of my prayers. My savior complex has been crushed and so has the anxiety and controlling behavior that goes hand-in-ugly-hand with this complex. It’s not my job to be him or to teach him how to be himself. Or perhaps, most accurately, it’s not my job to manipulate him into the version of him, I think, he should be. I no longer take credit for his excellence or shame for his demise. I have been set free to simply Love him. And I do.
This last year between anniversaries has affectionately been dubbed “the shit-kicker of for worse.” We’ve buried our two youngest babies, we press on in the gauntlet of grief, we’ve fought hard, we’ve confessed sins and Truth, and we’ve sucker punched each other with judgement. We’ve rallied instead of dividing. We have chosen to walk together toward freedom in Truth. In so doing, the conditions and expectations that I so fiercely held him to, have also Jericho-wall-crumbled. JT is free to simply Love me. And he does.
We were talking recently about what most defined this last year and we decided on grief. My idol of the idyllic life died when we buried two children, in one year.2 The wave of grief that washed over our marriage felt like it would surely drown us, but as it turns out, it has been cleansing us.
The conditional un-love that held our high maintenance marriage in bondage has been transformed into a gentle, contented and truthful Love. After surrendering my heavy, heavy chains of expectations, the Holy Spirit has replaced that burden with a carefree, mesmerized, adoring Love for my husband.
I see JT and yet I still Love him. The El Roi kind of Love.3 For the first time, my heart sings to his: All of me, Loves all of you.
1. Proverbs 19:13, The Holy Bible, New Living Translation.
2. Guthrie, N. (2005). The One Year Book of Hope. Carol Stream: Tyndale House.
3. Genesis 16:13, The Holy Bible, New International Version.