I sat in the marriage counselor’s office with my arms crossed.
I was feeling pretty frustrated. My husband and I had been through a difficult season and were working hard on our relationship. God was giving us glimpses of what was in store for us, but the process was so painfully slow. We were having moments that were beautiful, but we were also having fights that left us both shaking our heads in confusion. Some days I thought we had it all figured out, other days I felt like two cats with their tails tied together and tossed over a fence.
The harder we worked, and the more we failed, the more discouraged I became. I wanted to love my husband, and I wanted him to love me. Why couldn’t it be easier? I found myself comparing our marriage to others. I had a picture in my mind of what I thought we should be, and felt like we might never arrive. I wanted sweeping poetry, candlelit dinners, and butterflies abounding. The problem was, I wanted Scott to provide most of this. It somehow seemed more authentic if he initiated it. I wanted him to read the sonnets, cook the food, and catch the insects too. I don’t like to admit it, but I really did desire this. I had unreal expectations in place, so of course I felt disappointed.
“Why can’t my husband do these things?” is the question I presented to our counselor that day.
He just looked at me quietly. I wiped away a stray tear as I waited for his response, certain he would see my feelings were valid. What he told me left me speechless. He said, “Michelle, you are fifty percent of this equation. You can put forth effort and create the same desired effect.”
I let his words hang in the air for a few seconds. What a novel idea…I was capable of creating the spark that could ignite our marriage. In other words, stop standing around expecting Scott to read my mind and start loving him the way I wanted to be loved. I had evidently misplaced my own value and worth somewhere along the way. There was a time when I amazed Scott with my wit and charm. I took this wisdom and applied it to my life. I can honestly say, I have seen good results.
Matthew 6:21 says, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I tried to create fun moments for us here and there. I planned little surprises during weekend getaways. The butterflies did indeed show up. I let go of the expectations, and chose to be grateful instead. Amazingly, I found myself seeing acts of love in the smallest places. My efforts mattered. I was not at the mercy of chance. The things that my husband loved about me in the beginning were the same things that he appreciated now. As I treasured my marriage, my heart followed. The distance I felt between us started to close up. I noticed the little things my husband did for me, and thanked him more often.
I recently left a love note on Scott’s pillow. I was surprised over how much it meant to him.
I saw it in his briefcase a few days later. He brought it with him on his business trip. My words of love and appreciation were that important to him. This built a little bridge between us and created an environment of closeness. It didn’t take much effort on my part, but it made Scott’s day. He didn’t initiate that exchange, but his happiness over it made me walk on air.
I am thankful our counselor shared that truth. It changed my perspective. It inspired me to just start loving.
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[Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski]