I’ve journaled off and on throughout my adult life. For quite a few years, the only time I wrote in my journal was when I was feeling pain and hopelessness.
My journal entries about my marriage are difficult to read. There was a time when my heart was filled with so much hurt and anger. I resented my husband’s interest in sex. Most of the time, I was a reluctant participant. Here’s just one example:
Another time, I wrote, “I’m wondering why I’m married to him. I don’t feel like I get a single thing out of this marriage anymore. I don’t feel like I can even just talk to him anymore . . . ”
For a time, I maintained a personal blog that was about various gynecological issues I faced but also about my frustrations as a wife. I am ashamed now to see some of the things I posted about my husband, how I felt, and what I said. (I’ve since deleted those posts.)
During the sexual desert years of our marriage, I fell away from God. I felt like life was falling apart. I thought our marriage was falling apart. I thought about how during our engagement and wedding, I never even once thought about what God wanted for me. I never felt a sense of rightness like I’ve experienced with so many things. I wondered over the years whether God really wanted us to be married. I wonder if something could fall apart if it had never been fully together in the first place.
I felt completely hopeless about my marriage, going through the motions of maintaining a sense of normalcy. Time was just passing us by. We were getting older and our bodies were aging. I looked ahead to when our children left the house and I saw emptiness. I prayed to God to release me from my husband’s sexual expectations.
Throughout these years, though, I clung to one Bible verse. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
And that was the single thing that ever gave me hope. I would get myself so wrapped up in the details of our interactions. My mind would be going a mile a minute in listing all the ways my husband had wronged me and all the expectations he had.
God would tell me, Be still. And for a few moments, I would be still. I would remember that God was God. I needed to just settle down and let Him do what it was He was doing—even if that meant keeping out of the way so He could work on me.
In my rare moments when I allowed myself to listen to God and be still, I felt content in my marriage. It was during those moments that God was softening my heart.
The Black Hole
But then I would go back to being unstill, cataloging my hurts from my husband. A black hole absorbs all the light around it and keeps light from escaping. The cataloging and repetition of hurts became a black hole in my heart. It collected more and more hurt, even seeking it out when it wasn’t actually there. My heart never let any of the hurt go. I just absorbed it all.
I look at the husband that emerges from the years and pages and words of my hurt. And I look at the husband sitting next to me as I write, playing a computer game and watching Rocky and Bullwinkle with me. My husband is still that man I wrote about. He still sometimes yells and gets grumpish. There are still times he says things that hurt me. He still sometimes comes to bed and wants to hash out a disagreement. He still does the things that I used to absorb hurtfully.
He hasn’t changed, yet I no longer feel pain and hopelessness in my marriage. Even as I ask myself why not, I know the answer.
My husband hasn’t changed. I have.
As I worked on myself to change my sexual interactions with my husband, I began to see him as a child of God, just like me—imperfect, sinful, with a hurting heart. The walls around the black hole of my heart began to thin and weaken, and the hurt began to escape. The pain and hopelessness have drained from my heart, to be replaced by joy, contentment, and hope.
Somewhere along the way from where I was to where I am now, I learned to forgive my husband.
On the journey to become the forgiven wife, I had to first become the forgiving wife.
Do you wonder if there is any hope for your marriage? Do you fear that your relationship is too entrenched in his complaints about too little sex? Does your mind race, trying to keep track of all the things that need to be done or that seem wrong between the two of you? Do you worry about what will be left between you when the kids are gone? Are you holding on to any hurts, afraid to let them go? Do you yearn to feel joy, peace, and hope instead of pain and hopelessness in your marriage?
Stop. Take a deep breath. Be still. Know that God is God. Allow him to work on your heart.
Learn to see your husband as the child of God that he is. Learn to forgive him. (If you are in an abusive marriage, please work on these things from a safe place, surrounded by people you can trust.)