In the myriad of "before you get married" books that I have read, they all have at least one idea in common, well said by Benjamin Franklin: "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards." In other words, notice the faults of the person you're with and make sure you can live with them before you marry him; be logical, not infatuated; keep your eyes wide open. Aside from the insane amount of difficulty in carrying that out, I think it is pretty good advice (or that's my opinion, after my nearly twenty whole weeks of marriage). Nevertheless, I think it leaves out another key idea.
I tried my hardest to simply observe my (now husband) while, and even before, we were courting; to not shrug off any faults I saw in him; to really analyze whether they may develop into something worse once we were married, and if I could really live with them without going crazy; to keep my eyes wide open. By the time he proposed (after almost two years of observation and analyzation, plus prayer, on my part), I was pretty certain that his faults were manageable, and not just because I liked him a lot. What I did not notice, however, was that I had faults too. I overestimated my patience, grace, and ability to forgive, while underestimating my tendency towards being offended, being overly sensitive, and holding grudges. Essentially, I had taken account of his faults, but failed to notice my own.
For example, a major fault that I have is unwillingness to talk about anything that irritates me. If he does something that frustrates me, I try to pretend it did not bother me. Part of that is my aversion to conflict; part of it is that I hate making people feel bad; and another part of it is my fear of him ceasing to love me (more on that in a later post, but it is not at all related to how he has ever acted or reacted, simply my own fear, just so you know ;)
Not talking about things that frustrate me would not be such a big deal if I was able to just shrug it of and truly let it go. I am not, however, able to do this, and generally end up stewing about it and getting more and more upset at him. Eventually, I nearly forget what I was originally frustrated about and instead am fuming about things that he hasn't even done [yet, I say]. The silly thing about it is that it is usually something really small and insignificant that frustrates me originally.
For instance, the other day, he came home from work and before even coming inside, he shoveled the walkway. No problems yet, that was a really nice thing for him to do. But then he came inside, and after saying hello and a bit of small talk, he got out his iPad, sat in his chair and proceeded to read the news. Excuse me? I think with indignation. Can he not see that I have been working hard for the past couple hours cleaning the house? Is he not even going to notice that I cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom, made the bed, and did some laundry? He didn't even ask how my day was! And what kind of response was that when I hugged him when he got home? Does he not like when I hug him?
Eventually, as I continued to fume about his "apparent" lack of desire to be with me, converse with me or help me with chores I think, I don't do all of this stuff around the house so that he can sit and read the news. I do it so that he can spend time with me or relax when he gets home... Wait a minute, conviction from my own mouth. Is he not relaxing? Is that not one of the reasons I do this? Ouch...it appears that my reason for being upset with him even goes against my expectations.
So, do I now realize how silly it is that I am mad at him and repent? Nope. I will continue to be mad at him because he hurt my feelings. And when he asks why I am upset? (Apparent because of the scowl on my face and the clanging dishes in the sink.) I will say, "Nothing," yet still expect him to apologize for hurting my feelings and never wanting to spend time with me and thinking that I am a horrible homemaker...wait...did he not spend all day with you yesterday and express how much he enjoys spending time with you? Well, yes. Did he ever say that you are a horrible homemaker or even imply it? Well, no. Am I now going to be reasonable and apologize for being a brat? Well, no. I have not finished pouting about nothing yet.
Looking back on that instance, my response to his reading the news and not greeting me how I wanted him to seems entirely ridiculous. I certainly cannot expect the man to read my mind. He is not God, after all. And deep down inside, even in those moments when I am mad at him, I know that I am being unreasonable and need to either say something or quit being a brat, but something in me absolutely refuses--my sinful nature, I suppose. And to surrender, to not be offended, or even to simply admit that he hurt my feelings or that I want to spend time with him, it just seems so weak. But honesty, grace, surrender, humility--those things are not weak.
Did not Jesus himself, the very definition of strength, exemplify those qualities? Then why do I think that I am above them? "A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him." [John 13:16] If Christ said this after doing the most humbling task a Jew could do--washing the feet of His disciples--how can I still be prideful and so easily offended? How can I still refuse to surrender, refuse to be humble, refuse to give grace? I have no idea, yet I do those things still. I can relate with Paul when he says, "For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want." [Romans 7:19] Who will set me free from this body of death? Only the power of God.
Oh Lord, help me. I cannot even handle the small things on my own. May I look to You in all of my struggles, never giving up the fight against my flesh, even in things which seem insignificant. Be my strength when I am weak because I am trying to avoid weakness.