Patrick and I have been married 17 years. Wow! I can’t believe it’s been that long! We have sadly noticed a trend in lives of married couples that have invested 15+ years to their marriage….the trend of separation and then divorce. I’m not talking about people that aren’t Christians. I’m talking about people that are actively serving in their local church, people that are soul-winners, and people that you think, “I want my marriage to be like theirs.” Then, all of a sudden, you hear that they have separated. Sadly, I’m noticing it’s usually the woman who has left. Why?... after 15+ years of your life devoted to this person. Why?
In the majority of the couples that we know personally or have heard of, the answer is usually the same. The wife can’t exactly mention one particular reason….they name 15 or 20. Things that 15 years ago, they never would have dreamed of leaving their soul-mate and best friend for. In many cases it is trivial or silly things that their husband has done (in some cases it can be serious). However, the wife holds it all in and doesn’t communicate how she’s feeling. Then there begins to be hurt feelings involved. She thinks, “How could he do this to me?” (We tend to get offended quite easily, don’t we?) “Doesn’t he know he’s let me down?” “Can’t he tell that I’m hurting?” She dwells and dwells and dwells on the faults of her husband and when she does this, it gets easier and easier to see more and more faults. It’s a snowball effect. She thinks, “Surely it is him that has changed!” The smallest things that used to only aggravate her are now things that she can’t possibly live with. These little things like: socks on the floor, football on Saturdays, and bodily functions, you name it, become big things. They are now ‘I-don’t-think-I-can- live-with-this’ offenses. Where did all this begin?...In the heart. A wife becomes hurt, holds it all in, then dwells on it. She chooses not to get over it and the rest is tragic.
I know it’s easy to dwell on the negative. When Patrick and I were first married, it was definitely an adjustment time. We had a wonderful first year together, but it was also trying as well. I didn’t have any brothers (only sisters) growing up and Patrick was pretty much raised as an only child, so to say it took some adjustment is an understatement. I remember being shocked at all the stuff he would leave out! And then he would have the nerve to point out my messiness, too! To look back now makes me laugh! I remember thinking one day that I was going to keep a list of all the stuff that he did wrong that week and then present it to him. I was going to show him! But after writing down the 2nd thing on my list, I was so convicted about doing this that I knew I couldn’t go through with it. I’m so thankful I didn’t.
As I’ve been thinking on this thought this week, I decided to do a little test. I talked with and emailed several ladies that have successful marriages. These are marriages that have lasted for 34 or more years. Some are almost double that amount! I asked these sweet ladies to simply tell me 3 things about their husband. I did not say, “Please tell me about all of his sweet wonderful attributes.” I simply asked for 3 things off of the top of their head that would be totally confidential. The responses I received were amazing. Some brought giggles (Like the lady who almost gave me too much information! She and her husband are still very romantic! ;O) and some were so touching they brought me to tears. I heard of hard-working husbands, of husbands that are devoted to their families and of husbands that stayed with their wife through relationship altering health problems. I heard of husbands that shared their hobbies with their wife and of husbands that were truly their best friends. Now, I have a question for you. Did these ladies just happen to marry perfect men? No, definitely not. These men are normal regular guys that have just as many faults as others. So, why didn’t the wife mention anything negative? I truly believe these ladies have chosen to dwell on the good qualities of their husbands. They have chosen to think on the things that are “of good report and virtue.” What an example to us!
A great verse to really “dwell” on is Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.
So, how can we do this with our husbands? I have three ideas that can help us.
1. Yesterday-When is the last time you thought about when you met your husband, the day you were married, your wedding night ;o) Now, this is not the time to go and dwell on all the faults and disappointments from your yesterdays. Think on the things that first attracted you to your man. Think of how he looked at you and the sweet things he said in your ear. Dwell on those thoughts for a bit.
2. Today-Secretly make a list. Watch your husband with the intent to fill up your paper with things about him that are good and right. Look at his appearance and dwell on how handsome your man is. Look at how he goes to work and provides for you and the children. Look for big things he does, as well as the teensy things that you normally don’t notice. Dwell on how good your husband is and when you notice a negative thing, just throw it out and don’t give it a moment’s thought.
3. Tomorrow-I don’t know about you, but to me older couples are some of the sweetest people to watch. I remember being at Disney World when I was a young teenager. My Pap-paw and Mam-maw were walking in front of all of us and we caught them holding hands. It was so sweet to see this sign of affection that they were enjoying one another’s company. That thought has been with me and it’s a goal I want in my life. Think of tomorrow and look forward to growing old with your man. Think ahead (or look now :o) at his graying head and smile wrinkles, and look forward to “getting” to be the lady who gets to experience it all.
We can have successful marriages that are pleasing to the Lord as well pleasing to us! It first starts in your heart. Dwell on all the great things about your husband!