I spent the first years of my marriage trying to make sure everything was perfect for my husband.
If he didn’t love the way I cooked a meal, I would change it the next time.
If the traffic was bad on the way to get where we were going, I would look for another route the next time.
If he got frustrated or angry at a situation, I would feel like a failure and try to anticipate that need and fix it the next time around.
He DID NOT blame me for situations going wrong around him. Yet I almost ALWAYS felt guilt and took responsibility for his reactions.
I did this because I thought that was what ‘good wives’ did. I thought my role as a wife was to make my husband happy. I was to think of him first before myself, right? My goal was to make his life painless. I did not write out this goal, I did not even consciously make this goal. But as I look back, I know that’s what I was trying to do.
I was actually pretty good at it too. I am an organized person, a planner. So I meticulously planned out events. I am an overachiever, so when he said he would prefer something done differently, I jumped on it and learned how to do it differently. I tried to stay one step ahead and clean up the messy footprints behind.
The first years of our marriage I was filled with a lot of unspoken sadness, frustration, and feelings of failure. I loved my husband. We had some ridiculously fun times and a lot of laughs. Still, I had an overwhelming feeling of drowning. Like I could never be good enough.
Around year eight I somehow realized that Brian did not marry me to be his mother. He was a full-on adult and he had deliberately chosen to get married and leave his mother. He had chosen me to be his companion. He chose me to be his friend, his lover, his partner.
This realization was freeing. I no longer felt responsible for all his actions. I did not stress about making sure he was fulfilling all his responsibilities. I stopped feeling responsible when he overslept or when a family activity did not go as planned. It was a turning point on my side of the relationship, but it still felt like something was off. Something was missing.
It wasn’t until recently, year twelve of marriage, that I looked back on those early years and saw that I was not trying to be Brian’s mom after all. I was trying to be his Savior. Maybe more accurately, I was trying to erase his need for a savior all together.
His reactions to things that went wrong were often sinful. I took it as a personal mission to remove his sinful reactions by creating an atmosphere that was perfect. Again, he did not ask me to do this. I wrongly assumed it was my duty to do this. I thought I could place my husband in a perfect home environment, plan perfect family outings, give perfect advice for his problems, and respond perfectly to his requests and he would, in turn, be perfect in this atmosphere I had created.
That feels crazy when I say it so bluntly.
The truth is, I can never create a perfect atmosphere. And it has never been my “job” to try.
I have changed the goal in my mind from being perfect to pointing to the One who is perfect. If I have a “job” as a wife, it is to point my husband to a perfect God each time he sins.
The reality of this is not easy.
For Brian marriage was honestly a lot more fun when I was making sure everything went his way. He didn’t know I was doing this and didn’t ask me to, but once I stopped ‘catering to him’ things had to get tougher before they could get better.
His changes did not come as a result of me telling him he needed to change. They came as a result of prayers on both of our parts. It came from me starting to feel safer opening up and sharing my heart with him. I began to tell him how I truly felt. I told him the times I was feeling like a failure so he could be aware of how his reactions were impacting me. And he began taking on a new role of guarding my heart.
I really don’t know what would have happened to our marriage in the early days if I hadn’t been like I was. Maybe he would have spiritually matured a lot faster, maybe I stunted his growth.
We will never know. I just know I wish we had the marriage we have now back then.
I know we can’t go back and change the events and the attitudes that have brought us to the point we are at now, but I know we can surrender our current attitudes and habits and beg God to help us change.
And I know this is a continual work. It is a work that needs God’s Grace and mercy and love all over it. Because I am not a Savior, and each time I try to be one for someone—I will fail. But HE is a Savior and He will never fail.