I watched as many Disney movies growing up as the next girl. I read several ‘Christian’ romance novels and watched/read Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice religiously. Plus of course, the obligatory watching of Titanic and other such movies. None of these are bad in and of themselves. None of them are evil. But, I am one of those girls who went into my marriage expecting my husband to think I hung the sun, moon, and stars. I wanted him to look in my eyes and lose himself in their beauty. I wanted Prince Charming at my beck and call.
A husband should think his wife is special, otherwise, why marry her? But when she thinks it’s his obligation to think she is always right, adorable, and pretty much infallible, there’s a problem.
I was one of those girls. I was trapped in a relationship where I treated my husband as a god and expected to be worshiped in return. Isn’t that normal? Normal, maybe. Right? No.
The only person I should ever worship is God, the Triune one, the one who became man so that I might draw near to Him. He is the only one I should worship. And he is the only one my husband should worship. It is completely unfair, and downright egotistically to expect your husband to worship the ground you walk on. Not only are you unworthy of that worship, you can’t live up to that standard. And you worshiping him does the same thing. I became a slave to his every whim. I became susceptible to his every mood swing. I was trapped in the worship of a man who is sinful instead of safely resting in the worship of God who is perfect.
It almost destroyed our marriage.
Once identified, the real fight for our marriage began. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been smooth. It’s been hard. It’s required us to be hard on each other. My husband has had to help me watch for times I’m caving to him, and I’ve had to watch times when I mistreat him because he’s just not treating me how I feel like I deserve to be treated. Thankfully we’ve won, by God’s rich grace alone, the big battles. The small battles still creep up now and then in the most unsuspecting ways.
A while back, I found myself mentally complaining that my husband didn’t take a greater interest in my writing. Woman after woman out on social media praise their husbands for his encouragement and support in their writing career. (Especially the romance writers. Go figure.) My husband asks me not to make it my focus in life but something that I do in submission to the Lord as an encouragement to my church. Many men go out of their way to take care of kids, clean house, and do the shopping, not to mention working to support the family, so their wives can write. My husband says limit your writing to a few hours in the morning before you start your day. Many husbands are their wives first readers. Mine only reads my stuff if I go out of my way to ask him.
Woe is me.
Wait. Is that my desire to be worshiped kicking back in? Yes.
It took me such a long time to realize that. (See what I mean about that unsuspected creeping?) It took me forever to realize what other women share about their lives on social media isn’t my standard of perfection. God is.
Is my husband caving to my desires or is he looking out for the well-being of my soul? Wow. Maybe, just maybe, he’s looking out for the well-being of my soul. Maybe he isn’t so interested in what makes me happy—knowing how skilled I am at finding things that make me happy. Maybe he’s more worried about what will help me seek after Christ. Maybe I should stop looking at the world and start looking at the Word.
Does my husband encourage my writing? Yes. When I look back over the years I’ve been writing, he is responsible for my biggest moments of growth. He is the one who pushed me to take it seriously. He is the one who pushed me to embrace my action flick writing style. He’s the one who encouraged me to start a blog. He’s the one who encouraged me to write for children. At every turn, he is the one who has shown an interest beyond just surface cheering and focused on the harsh realities that really push a person. Maybe I misjudged him.
Does my husband inhibit my writing gift by demanding I give it a place of lesser priority? No. Instead of letting me sit for hours and hours on my butt in a fake world, my husband demands I regulate myself so that my house doesn’t crumble around my ears. He demands I spend the majority of the day in the real world. He realizes that I am his helper and that he isn’t mine. And then he demands I seek to fill that slot while giving me space and grace to learn. He doesn’t cut me any slack, but he does treat me with great forgiveness and grace. Isn’t that like the Lord? Christ doesn’t indulge our sin, but he does give us grace. My husband doesn’t try to make things that are difficult go away, he tries to make sure I have the tools and the support to deal with them.
Instead of sitting by and letting me indulge every selfish desire I have to hide from the world, my husband challenges me to use my gift to serve my local church and the church at large. Does that not mean that he believes in my gift? What greater evidence could I ask for than his encouragement to write for my church family?
I have a huge group of very loyal fans who love everything I type. Just because my man doesn’t read every word with adoration doesn’t mean he doesn’t support, love, and enjoy this gift. He’s not a fiction reader. He works from six in the morning until three as a computer programmer and then from three until six or seven studying for his Wednesday night class on Systematic Theology. Can I really blame him if me exclaiming over a fictional character doesn’t rate as high as the truth of God? Maybe I need to examine my priorities.
It’s so easy for us as women to evaluate our husbands by the world, movies, and books. It’s so easy for us to lust after something and complain when we don’t have it. Sometimes, many times, we need to reevaluate our standards based on the Scripture and the Word. If you feel the pull of the desire to be worshiped take it to the Lord. He is your friend always. Stop complaining about being unloved or alone and put your eyes on Christ. He is your true friend. Then, reevaluate your that lack of love and friendship. Is it truly there, or do you have a wrong understanding of love?
I’ve started a new practice, since our pastors have been working through prayer, of not only praying about my writing during my prayer time, but praying about it specifically before I get started. Right now, more often than not, I remember at the end of my writing time, but I’m working on creating a good habit and that takes time. This has helped me keep my writing in the proper place: a part of who God gave me, not the entirety of my being.
When I feel the desire to grumble because my husband isn’t showing me the attention I think I deserve (which makes me feel so small when I type it out. Who do I think I am?) I remember a few things: my husband is a sinner, not God. God is my friend, the most perfect friend I could ever have. Then I ask a few questions: Is it just me feeling neglected? Am I really being neglected or is that old sin of wanting to be worshiped raising its ugly head? Am I being discontent? Am I being thankful?
I love my husband more than I can put into words and I know he loves me. We’ve learned the hard lesson of divesting ourselves from the worldly notion of lovers and embracing the Biblical notion of being fellow pilgrims, of being a picture of Christ and the Church, instead.
It’s not a relationship devoid of romance by any means, but it is not a relationship based on romance or happiness. It is much deeper and more fulfilling than that. It’s a friendship, it’s an adventure, it’s support every day, all the time.