Our own perspectives can have such an impact on our marriage and marriage in general. They can affect how we view our spouse and what effort we pour into our marriage.
Not only that, but what we do with those hard places and those hard times can either strengthen our marriage or sour them.
One of the reasons I don't talk about marriage much on this blog is because I don't have many hard places to speak from in my marriage. I shared about one huge failing in the beginning of my marriage, and that incident has taught me much about forgiveness, repentance, and learning from my mistakes.
I never share anything here that I am not doing (or needing to do) myself. Some of the hardest parts of marriage for me are denying myself and learning to keep my mouth shut to avoid further conflict when conflict does arise. I usually do keep my mouth shut, but I assure you, there is sometimes a fire burning within me! But I don't focus on all the conflicts in our marriage and here's why:
Marriage is For Life.
When Jonathan and I decided to get married, we went into it knowing divorce wasn't an option. Despite the fact that, well, legally it is an option, we made serious about our commitment to each other. We didn't just repeat vows on our wedding day. We owned them. It will be a long, stressful life indeed if I am always focused on the negative things in our marriage. That goes for anything in life, really. The Bible is quite clear about how God designed marriage and we take Him very seriously.
"So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6 (ESV)
"And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9 (ESV)
I am not in denial of the hard things in marriage, but I do not make them a center of focus either. But knowing that I made a commitment to my husband on our wedding day drives me to put effort into my relationship with him. Commitments shouldn't be taken lightly. Unfortunately, commitments are something lacking extensively today.
Marriage Matures You.
I have grown a lot as a person since I have been married. God has used marriage to help refine me as His daughter and as Jonathan's wife. I remember, especially through being pregnant, how needy I was as a wife and how I burdened my poor husband with always having to fill my every whim to be with him. I felt that any time he wanted to go out and be with his friends, that he didn't love me much. Over the years, I learned how wrong this thinking was! Only God could have filled the deep desire I was searching for.
And there's a catch to this maturing process: you must be willing and you must allow yourself to be moldable. That means you can't always be right (even if you are) or apologizing simply because peace and unity in your marriage are more important than who had the garage door opener last and why it's now missing.
Marriage Isn't About You.
When I entered into a life with my husband, we meshed everything together in one household. And I don't mean material things. I mean personalities, experiences, preferences, a history, everything. We came from two different backgrounds and two different upbringings. Not only did we need to learn to live together, but truly understand one another. It was no longer all about me. I was sharing my life with my husband now.
The sooner we learn this truth, the more we will enjoy a glorious marriage. I think it is really important to try to understand where your spouse is coming from when it comes to dealing with conflict. We need to stop focusing on always wanting to be heard and truly listen to our husbands. Or, as my friend Jamie Harper put it,
Although we need or want to be heard as wives, we also need to move our focus from ourselves and listen to our husbands as well. This is what it means to love one another. I listen. He listens. Sometimes I listen and he learns to listen later.
Change always begins with us. As a mother, as a friend, as a wife. It may not necessarily be a behavior in us that needs changing. Maybe it's simply a shift of perspective or a little more compassion to understand that we need. Sometimes, it's a matter of our own heart that needs shifting.
This isn't about ignoring conflict or about being in denial about its existence; it's simply about doing what you can to minimize it and keep it in it's place. Our differences and disagreements with our husbands don't need to define our entire marriage. Instead, use them as opportunities to grow and mature.
Marriage isn't meant to be dreadful; it's meant for companionship.