Marriage is hard.
Of course it’s also wonderful and fun and you have this built in best friend…but it’s still hard. Because we human beings are hard to deal with. And put two human beings together day after day, night after night, year after year, during the most personal moments of their lives…yep, it can be hard.
I’ve noticed I don’t like my mistakes to be pointed out. And who has the most opportunity to see me fail? Who most often gets to see my attitude go south? My husband. And I find that so irritating. I’m selfish. And I’d most often rather stay that way. But he doesn’t let me. It’s so pesky!
He says these things like, “It’s so frustrating when you…”
“It’s not fair when you…”
“Can you please try not to…”
Do any of us like being told what to do/what NOT to do? I hate feeling like I got in trouble. Because ultimately I’m a selfish person, even when I try not to be. When Seth gets upset with me, I just feel like being left alone and pouting. In fact, I often daydream about being all alone. On vacation. BY MYSELF.
Here’s an example: Yesterday evening Seth and Isaiah were up on the roof putting up the Christmas lights. The only way up or down is via ladder that needs a third person holding it steady at the base. I did that so they could climb up. Seth said, “Keep your phone nearby so I can call you when we need to get down.” OK, got it. And I commenced cleaning out Ivy’s bedroom and bagging things for Goodwill, vacuuming the corners of her room, etc. Until…
About 20 minutes later I hear something hitting the back window. And I realize they’ve been pretty noisy up on the roof for a few minutes. And I realize I have no idea where my phone is. Uh-oh. I’m thinking they need to get down off the roof. So I feel embarrassed. I somehow forgot to pay attention to them. I feel annoyed. It’s not my fault! I was super busy cleaning! And when I go out to the back deck, they are clearly frustrated.
They say, “Where have you been?! We’ve been pounding on the roof trying to get your attention! I called you six times!”
Well, la-dee-da, can you imagine how I feel? I don’t exactly feel remorse. I feel mad! Sorry, guys, you who are Oh-So-Perfect and have never made a mistake in your life! I made a mistake. So? It happens.
I hold the ladder while fuming, and I listen to them say how annoying it was to be stuck on the roof in the cold with no way to get down and no way to get my attention. Isaiah tells me I shouldn’t be mad at THEM when I was the one who left them up there! That’s ridiculous! (OK, maybe not, but I’m in no mood to be reasonable. I’m just mad. Because I am).
So Seth leaves for the store and we proceed with the evening. I find my phone in the pocket of my coat, which I hung in the hall closet after helping the guys up the ladder onto the roof. Oops.
Hours later, when I’m headed off to bed, Seth says to me, “You know, it’s SUPER frustrating when you get mad at me for a mistake you made.” And he rehashes the whole situation. Which makes me mad all over again. And I just don’t like to be told I messed up! I don’t like getting in trouble! I just want to be left alone! To my credit, I did see his point and I did apologize. But I didn’t like it.
I went to bed. And pouted. And wished marriage didn’t have to be so hard. And I told God all about it. And I was reminded that one of the purposes of marriage is to refine us. Emotionally bumping up against another person every day forces us to face our shortcomings. It brings our ugliness into the light so it can be dealt with. If Seth wasn’t in my life noticing my bad attitudes, I could just keep on harboring them. And I guess, I SUPPOSE, I don’t really want to be left to wallow in my selfishness. God desires something better for me. And my husband is a tool that God uses to discipline me.
And with a huge sighhhhhh I realized I’m grateful for that. And I realized I shouldn’t be mad at Seth for “helping me” see when I’m wrong. I WAS wrong in this situation, after all. Ughhhh. And then I thought of the Grinch. His puny, shriveled heart was pushed and prodded and suddenly learned to expand. And became better. “His heart grew three sizes that day.” And that’s what God constantly does to me. He pushes my heart to grow, and to take responsibility for my actions, and to honor my husband, and to forgive my husband even when I don’t feel like it.
And I’m grateful. I do want my shriveled little heart to keep expanding.
The next time your spouse irritates you, think of the Grinch’s ugly little heart and choose to let yours grow instead of staying tiny. It ain’t easy. But it’s worth it.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”