We are failing at marriage

I have failed my husband. My husband has failed me.

And we are not alone. It is happening in every. single. marriage.

Failure.

When Connor and I were married three years ago, we included in our ceremony one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 14:4-7

I could not wait to share that kind of love with my sweet and wonderful husband for the rest of my life.

In the months following our wedding, we did everything we could to build a fortress around our marriage to keep evil out. We prayed together – over our marriage and each other. I felt so safe in our relationship.

Not to say our first year wasn’t rough. It was. Learning to respond with love and grace, regardless of our emotional state, was an incredible challenge.  But we really loved each other so, when those lessons of humility kept coming, we did our best to welcome them with open arms. Because, after all, love is not self-seeking. We made real progress. It was precious and beautiful progress towards maturity in our love and the ways we related to each other.

The scary thing, friends, is that all marriages are at risk of Satan’s influences. Even (and especially) the strong ones.

See, while we were “building” our marriage, I was still feeling “failed.” Things would happen between us that hurt me. Every time I would say, “I forgive you,” and would really want to mean it, but the hurt lingered in my heart and refused to go away. So I became passive in my love towards my husband. Eventually, I did not feel loved and I did not want to forgive my husband anymore. The trust we had on our marriage day had been dismantled.

I knew I wanted to repair our marriage to what it had been before the broken trust, but I kept getting lost. I willed my heart to forgive him. I prayed desperately for God to help me and heal our marriage. I thought I was making little steps of progress. However, there was still hurt and anger brewing inside me that quietly bided its time and built up potency – until one day, when it burst like an ugly pus-filled wound.

While driving myself to a meeting for work, I was overwhelmed with what had happened to my once beautiful love-filled life. I was MAD. I could not accept that my marriage was flawed and always would be. I could not believe that I had “chosen” to forgive my husband.  He needed to know my wrath, my disappointment, and my hurt in full force. He did not deserve to be forgiven. He deserved to know EXACTLY how he’d hurt me and to be punished. I had let him off too easy. Guys, these kind of thoughts are not unique to me. This is the human condition. Human nature longs, with an ugly bitterness, for retribution when we are wronged. So when all of these thoughts attacked my heart, Satan won a battle in those moments. I was seething and it was ugly. I was failing my husband. I had been offering him conditional love. “Mmm, I’m only going to love you completely if you do right by me, all the time. Otherwise, forget it.”

Drowning, I cried out to God with an utterly broken soul. And when I was done, he spoke to me very clearly. Very. He said, “Dearest, this is not your burden. I am the one who deals out judgments in righteousness. It is not your job to make sure your husband ‘learns his lesson.’ I have you in my hand, sweet one, and you are loved. I have your husband in my hand and he is loved. Do not despair – all will be well. You do not know what Connor and I are working through right now. I am with him. This anger is not for your own hands. You can release it to me.”

Finally, I was able to unclench the fist I had been choking my heart with. I began to realize that my husband is and will forever be a human. All humans are broken and imperfect vessels. That is where the true beauty of marriage in Christ begins. I did not marry a perfect man – he will never be a perfect man. He did not marry a perfect woman – I will never be a perfect woman. Spouses will fail each other. It is unavoidable.

From that point on, forgiving him for the things I had held on to was something I chose to do over and over again, every day. You see, sometimes, true forgiveness is a commitment you must choose to act on with every thought in your head and word in your mouth. Forgiveness is WORK. One step forward, two steps back, rinse, repeat.

As Christians we are told to love each other like Christ loves us. Christ loved ME so much that he died for me. Regardless of the fact I have sinned against him and spit on that gift in more ways than I can name. That he loves me, regardless of anything, is a truth that I know to be infallible. I have found only love and grace from Christ, so shouldn’t that be what my spouse receives from me? No matter what wrong has been committed. The “big” or “small” of the wrong does not matter. Our choice to forgive though – that matters.

There is a blood that covers over all of our offenses and imperfections. Both of our slates have been wiped clean. Our marriage has been wiped clean. While we are imperfect – GOD IS PERFECT!!! When we look to our spouses to complete us, we fail. When we look to Christ to complete us and choose daily to love each other with grace and forgiveness because God loved us – then, our marriage is daily renewed, deepened, and made into something more beautiful than you can imagine.

I LOVE my husband more than when we got married. I have more compassion for my husband than I ever thought possible. We work harder at our marriage than most. We refuse to fail. Having been to a fragile place in our relationship, we know we never want to be there again. We are strong, in Christ. We are imperfect, but we are willing and eager to love each other unconditionally.

This is why failure is happening in every marriage: because we are human. We are selfish. If you feel that failure in your marriage, my heart aches for you. I want you to know that you can have your marriage back. I want you to know you can find healing. It is not easy and it is not quick, but you can get there. It starts with forgiveness. Long-term whole-hearted forgiveness, that only Christ can give you the strength to follow through with.

Do you have a story about forgiveness and marriage? Questions? I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below or send me an email at thegracefilledhome@gmail.com

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Your husband deserves

Your husband deserves to be loved by you.

He might be cranky, he might be sweet, he might be overwhelmed, you might feel like he’s overlooking you. It doesn’t matter.

As wives, we are called to serve, help, give grace to, and believe in our husband.

And here’s the deal, our love should be consistent. It should supersede our circumstance (bad day, good day, weird day).

Ugh. So hard for me. I absolutely love my husband, but I also have ALL the feelings and they get in the way of expressing that love. I get mad, tired, irritated, overwhelmed, etc on the DAILY. Usually, Connor gets the brunt of my negative emotions. Enough said about that, hm?

Yesterday, I remembered that. I remembered that on the day I chose to marry Connor I had committed to choosing EVERY day to love him. So last night I left a fresh package of candy canes (his fave) and a short love letter on his pillow to let him know that I remembered. Then I dropped my phone in the pumpkin latte scented candle I lit for ambiance. Oops.

I encourage you to do the same. Love on your spouse for no reason (but maybe don’t drop your phone in hot wax…). Because when we married our wonderful, hard-working, human and flawed husbands we chose them for the rest of our lives.

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The perfect cup {a marriage post}

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Okay, I’ve started my coffee. It’s making those warm foaming sounds in the kitchen. It sounds heavenly.

However, I know for a fact that once it’s done making those perfect morning sounds and I go pour myself a cup, the ensuing experience will be less than wonderful. I have been trying to make my own pot of coffee for weeks. And yet, I cannot seem to get it right. I swear I use almost the same measurements every morning and yet, sometimes my coffee is straight bitterness, sometimes I get a mouthful of grinds, and most times, it’s watery. Once – on a Sunday morning, I made the perfect cup. PERFECT! I thought I had figured out the secret.

But that was two weeks ago and I haven’t had a good cup since. But I keep drinking it…because I’m committed. ;)

I wish Dutch Brothers delivered. They just opened a new location, literally a two minute walk from my front door, but Noah sleeps until 8 and there’s no way I’m waking him up early to go get my fix. So. Grindy coffee it is.

I was so excited to find this community brew link up this morning. Marriage is one of my favorite things to think about, talk about, and do something about. God has never stopped teaching my how to be a better wife.

My husband and I celebrated our three-year anniversary last week. It was so wonderful to have adults-only time (Noah was with my aunt) and so wonderful to sit down and talk with the man I love. We have recently moved to a new state, transitioned to Connor being the sole bread-winner, and me staying home to take care of our one-year-old (and, in two months, our newborn!). We had a lot to talk about. Having those special moments to check in with your spouse are so important. We both went to  bed that night feeling loved, understood, and united.

And then a few days later, that unity went out the window. Connor was having a rough day (like everyone does from time to time) and I was playing the victim, hard.

My brain did me no favors that day as I thought: “How could my husband be having a ‘bad day?!’ I did this for him, and THIS! He should be ecstatic right now! I slave away to make him happy and now he’s cranky. This isn’t right. He doesn’t even love me. I can’t believe I have to deal with this.”

And when I inevitably blew up that evening we had a long hard talk. And I found out that I regularly play the victim in our relationship. Not because my husband told me this, but because when we got to a place where I could understand him again, like the night of our anniversary,  I realized I had spent the entire day stewing on how I was being wronged. How I wasn’t being loved like the Bible says I should be. And I had let my bitterness sink so deeply into my heart  throughout the day and over the past three years that it took us hours to get anywhere. I hadn’t taken any time to think about Connor, about whether I was loving or serving him well (I wasn’t, by the way.)

“Hi, my name is Kathryn, and I’m a chronic victim.”

And now that I know that, I have to confront it. I am tasked to change myself for the better. I yearn to be the best wife I can be. To breathe in Proverbs 31 and be my husbands ever-flowing fountain of peace.

I’m not naturally gifted with the art of bringing peace…kind of like I’m not gifted at making coffee (however, now that I’m drinking this mornings batch, I am not 100% disappointed – progress!!). Not jumping into the role of the victim is going to be hard. It will be trial and a lot of error. I’ll mess up most of the time and cause more strife than necessary. BUT. Over time, I will make a few “perfect” cups that go down heavenly – no crunchy grinds, not too strong, not too weak.

In my opinion, those smooth, aromatic cups are worth every ounce of effort.

 

community brew link up

A birthday blessing

Today was Connor’s birthday. It was 9 o’clock last night that I had to blink back tears as I realized I didn’t have a party planned, I didn’t have a present prepared, and that I was too exhausted to fix either of those things.

Time runs right past me – much more often than I’d like to admit.

So, feeling like a complete failure, I woke up the next morning and packed my husband’s lunch. I tried making him chicken burritos – his absolute favorite lunch – and ended up overcooking the chicken. Like. Reeeaally overcooking it. Have you ever boiled chicken for 30 minutes? Yeah….me either….

But I wrapped and packed them anyways. I didn’t have time to remake them. I did, however, have bacon leftover from breakfast so I was able to sprinkle those little gems in the burritos. A small win.

Then I kissed my birthday boy goodbye and watched him walk to his car. He has been working so hard since we moved here. And he has been totally selfless about it. If I ever start to talk about feeling guilty for not working, he stops me and won’t hear another word of it. He wants me to be home, raising our children and managing our household.

That is the greatest blessing he has ever given me. I will never take it for granted. And even if I do end up having to go back to work at some point, I will not be bitter. The time I have now is just precious. And challenging.

After he drove off to work, I turned around and faced my kitchen. Dishes from last night and this morning. Then Noah woke up and the rest of the day was his.

Some days I have found myself incredibly motivated to clean, budget, and coupon – but completely unable to follow through with any of it, because my son needs me. All day. Today was one of those days. I wanted everything to be perfect for Connor when he walked through the door after work. It wasn’t.

What he did come home to was a crying mostly naked baby (who had just peed on the floor) and no dinner. I actually still had to run to the store to get a few last minute things for dinner, but hadn’t been able to get things together to leave the house up until that point.

But I got a smile and hug. He said the burritos I packed him for lunch were delicious. Then he took over playing with Noah while I rushed to Walmart.

Connor and I didn’t sit down to eat until 7:45. But Noah was fed and fast asleep, our new portable air-conditioning unit was shooting ice cold air into our faces, and turkey lettuce wraps were steaming on the table.

My husband was happy. So I was happy. I told him I was sorry I didn’t have a present for him and he said that being able to eat his favorite dinner with his wife was the best present he could have asked for.

When I brought out his favorite dessert (chocolate butterscotch cereal bars), he went crazy. He made me feel like the best wife in the world (and there’s really no question that I am absolutely NOT the best wife in the world…).

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Our night ended perfectly with one episode of Misfits (yes, we’re obsessed.) followed by a clean and made bed.

Sometimes, days go much much better than expected. And sometimes, I realize just how blessed I am by my husband.

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Becoming a SAHM…and why it’s harder than I thought it would be

We are officially settled into our new home. We live in a cute and quiet condo close to the mountains. We absolutely LOVE the location. We are 10 minutes from the zoo, Garden of the Gods, and all sorts of hikes. It’s wonderful.

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We do not, however, have air conditioning. And last night I was downstairs on the couch until 4 a.m. because it was so unbearably hot in our room upstairs. So miserable. I’m sure I won’t even notice come September 7, when I no longer have a little heater in my belly. A window air conditioner may be in our future. Out of absolute necessity. ;)

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The biggest transition for me has been transitioning into a stay-at-home mom. I worked full-time in South Dakota. I was gone from 8-5 every week day since he was 3 months old. It broke my heart, because all I have wanted to do for years, is be a home maker and a mother. So when it became clear after Noah was born that it was best for our family if I worked during that time, I was fairly devastated. BUT, I surprised myself. I actually liked going to work. I liked taking a shower every morning and putting on nice clothes. I liked getting out of the house when stress was high from a sleepless night. It still broke my heart to leave him (although it was easier because I was able to leave him with my mother almost every day), but I liked having a purpose outside of the house.

Now, my job is my home. And it is a lot harder than I expected it to be. It is difficult to know, at the end of the day, whether I have done my job well. Did I do the laundry to completion? Did I vacuum all the crumbs? Did I sweep the kitchen? Did I play with my son? Did I give him intellectual stimulation? Did I give him balanced meals throughout the day? Did I show him how much I love him? Did I welcome my husband into a peaceful home? Did I prepare a dinner that filled him? Did I soak in the time we had that evening as a family? Did I appreciate my husband enough?

Most days I don’t know the answers.

But that’s okay.

What I do know, is that I am so thankful for the chance to pour into my son and husband. I am thankful to serve God by maintaining the food, finances, and upkeep of my home.

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I’m not super talented at any aspect of homemaking. But I am excited to work my fanny off at it. Because I love that little boy and that handsome man.

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In other news, that little dude is now walking. And practicing his running. Oh dear. ;)

Happy Tuesday!

Hi friends! 

I hope you are having an incredible Tuesday. I’m just dropping in real quick to let you know I guest posted over at A Worker at Home  yesterday. I had so much fun writing this post and really dug deep into what has helped Connor and I move to the next level in our marriage. Check out the post HERE!! While you’re there check out the rest of the blog. Katie is doing an AMAZING job building an encouraging community on her blog about marriage, parenting (she just had baby #2 like a week ago!), and faith. You’ll love her. :)

Here’s a sneak peak of the post:

8 Ways to Argue Effectively With Your Husband
 
(Note: Although this is a list to help you argue “effectively,” that does not mean you will win more arguments. It has nothing to do with that and everything to do with making your marriage a better, more “effective” machine that glorifies God.)
 
1. Speak goodness to your husband
 
 

10 Love Texts To Send Your Hubby

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Encouraging my husband is a TOP priority. It is my heart’s desire to be loving and uplifting to him every day. No matter how I feel, no matter how he feels. I am his biggest fan and he deserves to be reminded of that constantly. One of my favorite ways to encourage him is with random texts throughout the day.

Ten easy ways to make his day… :)

1. I’m so proud of you!!

2. You are so strong and stinkin’ HOT! 

3. I’ve been thinking about you.

4. I respect you so much because……

5. You are SO funny, I’m still laughing about……

6. You are an amazing father.

7. Looking forward to snuggling tonight!

8. I trust you with my whole heart.

9. I am so blessed to have you in my life, babe.

10. Bring those muscles home right after work – they have a date with this girl tonight!