Let me preface this post with two clarifications. First, our marriage was "sticking" no matter what. Divorce was never an option. The title of this post could more accurately be "The Question That Brought Greater Joy, Depth and Life to Our Marriage." I just like the other title. More eye-catching, I think. Second, I was inspired by my husband's message tonight. If you want to hear it for yourself, go to The Village Church podcast on iTunes. Wait until Monday though. It won't be on there yet. Sorry. Now that that's out of the way, here we go...
I was the ultimate good girl. Church was my second home; youth group, my perfected extra-curricular activity. I played by the rules. Mostly. Outside of a month of outward rebellion (emphasis on outward) in my junior year of high school, I was the golden child. I'm pretty sure I was what every parent thinks they want in their child. Submissive. Compliant. Polite.
However, no one tells you there are deeply rooted, insufficient cisterns that are hewed out by and inside the good girl. They're deceptively devastating, cloaking themselves in the fabric of lies like "it's the Christian thing to do" or "just stuff the emotion and do it."
Now, put that broken line of thinking into a marriage. That was me.
We had issues, just like every other couple. It was the same argument, the same frustration, the same disappointment, the same resolutions over and over again. It was insanity. Everything would be going along swimmingly for about a month and then something would set it off. We would be thrown into the same whirlpool, trying to cling to some common ground. Eventually, Matt grabbed a life line. He started going to counseling to deal with his hurts and hang-ups. I, on the other hand, continued to swirl round and round in disappointment in myself and in my resolution to "get my act together" and "be the wife I should be."
I just needed to read the Bible more. I just needed to commit to think of and serve Matt selflessly. I just needed to anticipate his needs. I just needed....
I just needed to ask the right question.
Repeat the above six times a year for six years. Yes, SIX years. Picture a night of tossing and turning after a heated discussion. Imagine feeling helpless and nauseated. Envision standing on your back porch asking yourself if this is what life will always look like. Failure. Disappointment. Pure and utter self-centeredness. MY self-centeredness.
I look back on that night and am thankful in two ways: I'm thankful that it happened and I'm thankful that it happened...it is in the past and not now! I finally gave up making the list of all my "shoulds." I finally asked the question of God...
Before that night, I thought I knew how. Puffed up in pride, I had pulled out the paper with my presumptuous plan, smoothed the wrinkles and proceeded to read my solutions to the problem. This time, however, I was out of solutions. I had no plan. I could only listen. Listen to my husband's plea for me to hear. Listen to the Lord's plea for me to bow down and humble myself.
I had to admit that I needed help.
The prideful little good girl within me trembled in her pew. Could I possibly confess to being imperfect? Gasp.
The answer to my how came in the Center for Christian Counseling.
How: the question that saved our marriage. I pray that if someone out there reads this and it resonates with you, don't be afraid to ask how. More importantly, don't be afraid to wait for the answer and then obey.