A few weeks ago I was on the couch reading a book. My husband was sitting on the other couch reading a book. We had been there a while when I glanced over at my husband. The title of the book caught my eye. Here is what I saw.
(Of course, I didn’t take a picture of him actually reading the book, so this picture will have to suffice.)
Before I had a chance to process the title of the book, he caught my eye and smiled. Then he began giggling.
I asked, “WHAT are you reading?”
Apparently, one of his mentors was clearing out some of his books and my husband–hilarious as always–couldn’t resist taking this one. He and a friend even brainstormed all the ways I should “discover” this book, even anticipating how I would react when I saw it.
Knowing the two of them, I laughed. It was a joke. He got the book as a joke. He doesn’t think that about me (whew!).
For several weeks since, I have been wondering about this book. It’s been sitting on the counter for a while. Lingering. Waiting for one of us to read it. We still haven’t, and I don’t know if we will. But, I finally put it on the bookshelf next to C.S. Lewis, our Bibles, and some library books (for now). Guests perusing our bookshelf will see this…
I wonder what they will think when they notice the title.
I haven’t read the book, nor do I think I will, but I do think the book poses an interesting question,
“What if I married the wrong person?”
The week before I got married, I was riding in the car with a female mentor of mine. She had been married for almost 30 years at the time. She told me, “Kara, one day, you may regret your decision to marry Shane. You may come to a point where you do not love your husband. You may want a divorce. You may become resentful, or angry, or discontent. And I want to tell you that it’s okay. At various points throughout my marriage, I felt this way, too.”
As a person a few days shy of getting married, this conversation, frankly, shocked and surprised me (yes, I was naive). I couldn’t believe that this woman I admired and sought to emulate had felt this way about her husband. She always seemed so happy in her marriage. She respected, admired, and publicly demonstrated her love and devotion to her husband.
But she had gone through low times, too. She wanted me to know that if (or when) I felt this way to remember that I was not alone. Others had been there.
My friend proceeded to reveal to me what she did during these times.
She prayed for her husband.
She prayed for herself.
She prayed that God would help her focus on the things she first loved about her husband.
She prayed that God would help her fall back in love with her husband.
She prayed that God would keep her committed to her husband, even when her heart did not feel it.
I cannot count how many times I have come back to this conversation throughout my soon-to-be 10 years of marriage.
I have remembered her words.
When I was hurt by my husband.
When my expectations were not met.
When I was disappointed.
When I wanted to be alone.
When I was depressed and lonely and sad.
When I disliked something about my husband.
I remembered: Perhaps my immediate situation will not change, but, through prayer, the way I feel about it can change. I can’t control what my spouse does; I can control my reaction. I can control my feelings about him. I can still choose to love him.
My friend may never know how much her words impacted me. And as I was soon to learn, marriage is not easy. But, my friend’s willingness to share something so personal, so real, has been a source of encouragement to me again and again. You see, her words taught me, first, to take my struggles to God. And, second, to look at myself…the only person in the marriage I can control.
Note: I don’t mean to trivialize marriage or the real difficulty of making marriage work. Marriage is hard. It, literally, takes two people to work. I know many people who have tried for years to work on their marriage, only to be met with abuse, affairs, or an unwilling, unbending spouse. I only point out here that being honest and real about marriage–rather than idealistic–can make a difference in the lives of young people about to embark on the journey.