Marriage is Hard and Life is Busy

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Usually I try to create content on The Mama Collective that presents an issue I have faced, and a collection of ideas on how to deal with that issue (based on what I’ve learned).

I don’t have that for you all today. I have more of a personal revelation to share, instead.

Do you ever feel like you make your husband your Savior? Like you place the responsibility on his shoulders to make you happy and keep you going through the tough times?

I am the world’s worst about this. I think Chris is amazing, of course, but I place some pretty unrealistic expectations on him to be there for me without me expressing any need, and to carry our family through any situation single-handedly. This all came to a head when Isaiah was born and I learned that I had to take some ownership of my happiness, or I was just going to be miserable for a long time.

Our pastor spoke on this for a second this past Sunday. It wasn’t the message of his sermon; it was just a passing comment, but it hit me hard. He pointed out that some of us wait for our partners to be our Saviors. When we are happy, we are grateful to them. When we are unhappy, we resent them. We don’t place enough stock in where our happiness truly comes from…it can’t come from the one human man you chose to marry. I felt like he was speaking directly to me. I wrote it all down in my notebook while I was listening, and I have been meditating on it all week.

The worst mental trap I get myself into is comparing who we were as a young(er) couple, unmarried…baby-free…to who we are now. Mamas: this is a terrible thing to do to your spouse! It is so unfair, but I have done it multiple times. To illustrate: a few weeks back, I was complaining about how we never hold hands anymore (probably the nine millionth time I have whined about this to my poor husband since we had a baby), and I think he finally felt fed up with me. His simple response was, “Well, it’s a lot harder to hold hands when one of us is always holding a baby”.

That shut me up for a while…he was right. Who we were back then is nothing like who we are now: homeowners, 1. 5 kids, multiple jobs at all points of the year. We are a lot less carefree, and things are a lot harder now. 

But does that mean I am less happy now? Or has my ability to feel happy become stunted as my life has propelled forward? I’ve started to suspect that this is actually a problem on my end.

The revelation I had after that sermon was this:

I finally let it sink in that my sweet husband doesn’t create or steal my joy.

He doesn’t have that kind of power. As a Christian, I believe that my joy ultimately comes from my relationship with God, but I certainly don’t live that way all of the time. Instead, I act like Chris getting home 30 minutes later than we had planned is a total dealbreaker for my happiness.

I am a much better wife when I lift that responsibility off of Chris’s shoulders. If he went out of his way to do something for me to make my day easier, sure that would make me happy. But it wouldn’t bring me joy. Those sweet things he does for me are only that: sweet things. They bring fleeting happiness, and the problems arise when I treat that happiness like it’s my source of true joy and I come to expect them.

We married human men. They have no supernatural ability to read our minds, figure out what our deepest needs and wants are, and meet them all. Expecting that is damaging to our marriages (and maybe I’m alone while I’m writing this…I’m mostly talking to myself here anyways!).

Instead, we know exactly what we want or need in different situations. We can put on our big girl pants, pray about it, reflect on it, act on it, etc.

Of course I always want my husband’s input and support: marriage requires both parties to be open. But, the big difference here is I have been waiting for him to give me the go ahead to feel better about something that’s been bugging me. I have been counting on him to cheer me on before I tried something new.

If I want to go do something fun with Isaiah, why does Chris have to be there every time if his schedule doesn’t allow? Sure, I want the whole family to be able to go, but does sitting on the couch waiting for him to come home, and then resenting him when he can’t be there actually better than just going on my own?

If I’m upset about something, and I feel like I’ve been throwing out dozens of obvious signs, why would I add to my own bad mood by pouting and waiting for him to ask me what’s going on? Doesn’t he deserve the benefit of the doubt that he had a crazy day, too, and maybe he has his own problems at the front of his mind?

If I could go back and rewrite part of my wedding vows, I would promise to treat Chris like human being he is. He is a patient, loving, wonderful human being who deserves all of the grace and patience that I expect him to give me. Marriage is hard, and life is busy, and we all deserve for people to treat us like we are only human. 

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