When Kelly and I told people we were planning to attend a marriage retreat a few years ago (more on that here), we were surprised that some asked if our marriage was in trouble. It was a little heartbreaking, actually, to hear other husbands and wives that felt the only reason to work at our relationship would be as a last resort to save it.
I think many of us enter in to marriage believing that we have our roles figured out. Isn’t that what dating was for? To determine if he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with? I exceeded the expectations of girlfriend so well that he promoted me to wife. I got this.
Whether those first few years of marriage are/were dreamy, or a lot more difficult than you imagined, I invite you to take a moment and consider your job description as a wife. Are you relying on your experience as a woman to determine what kind of wife is best for your husband? Are you looking to your first years of marriage to set the tone for how you fall in place as a husband and wife? Are you allowing how deserving you feel your husband is to determine what kind of wife you will be? … Am I walking on dangerous ground yet?
It seems to me that we can get a little sensitive when it comes to talking about who we are as wives. I’ve been there myself, and yet I’m not really sure why that is. I’ve never heard a woman who was expecting her first child, who desired to be a truly great mom, scoff at the idea that she could stand to learn a thing or two about motherhood. There are entire communities of women who gather for the very purpose of personal growth in that field. Why is being a wife any different? I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t grow up being a wife. I’ve done some growing up as a wife now that I’ve been one for a while. But I wasn’t born one, and there are some roles in life that you can only master through on-the-job training. (Of course I’m using the term “master” loosely here. If one can truly master the art of being a wife, I have yet to achieve that status.)
A friend once told me that people will only grow if they are willing to admit that they aren’t perfect. There have been times that I thought I was a darn good wife, and in looking back, can clearly see that I was working hard at being the best wife I knew how to be, yet I wasn’t necessarily reaching for understanding of how to more effectively serve my husband. I wasn’t striving to learn what my husband truly needed, even if he thought he had all he ever wanted.
I’m doing something a little differently today and sending out a challenge to any wives who are reading this. Whether you’ve been married for 30 days, or 30 years I urge you to consider your role as wife. Leave elements such as the kids or household chores out of it. How are you as a wife? As a companion and helper to your husband?
Perhaps you’ve never really thought of working to learn more about it before. Perhaps you work hard at it every day. Regardless of where you land on the spectrum, keep in mind your marriage is like muscle that is either growing stronger or weaker — there’s no standing still.
“It will humble you to pursue help with regard to such a sensitive matter; but if you can look ahead and envision the possibility of a [more fulfilling] marriage, wouldn’t you consider the momentary discomfort a small price to pay for decades of healthier living?”
– Gary Thomas, Sacred Influence
Find the conversation here.