This post is for the wife who is ready to bolt. The one who’s fed up and sick of feeling alone. I agree, it’s unfair that you are disregarded. I feel so strongly about it because I was once there, but the strange thing is . . . I can barely recall it.
Things have changed so much in my marriage that it’s hard to picture how miserable I felt. I get chills down my spine when I think about how close we were to quitting. At this moment, as I type this post, I’m waiting for my husband to return from a business trip, and I happen to be counting the hours until I see his face. I am so glad we ended up in this place.
There are so many reasons to stay
This is the guy I fell head over heels for when I was eighteen. This is the guy I waited for while he served two years in Korea while in the Air Force. He’s the one I grew into adulthood with. He’s the one who occupies my best memories. He’s the father of my children. Those children love us both and I want them to enjoy us without dealing with the fallout of divorce. I want to enjoy my grandchildren with my husband. He and I are the ones who made them, after all.
People like to say, “Don’t stay for the children.” Well why the heck not? They are only my flesh and blood and dearer to me than anything on this earth. God doesn’t ditch me when I treat him horrible. So I want to reflect that kind of love to my husband and my kids. Call me crazy, but knowing God is with me no matter what inspires me to love my husband and children that way.
Feelings are a pathetic measuring stick
I talked with a lady at the park the other day who told me she has been married for twenty years. She told me that she thought about getting a divorce eleven years into the marriage because she was so unhappy. She felt ignored and unappreciated. She was totally fed up with being a wife. I asked her if she was glad she stayed married; she told me she was. 100%.
I asked her what changed through the course of their relationship that made such a positive change. She told me that it was the tough times that drew them close. They realized they needed each other in order to face the world, which can be pretty harsh. They wanted their children to have a refuge to come to when things got crazy for them. She told me she wasn’t giving in to her emotions. Her feelings were not going to steer her anywhere.
What do we base our decisions on?
Even though they came to a point where there was very little affection and no feelings of love, they stuck it out. They stayed. Does this sound like misery? Is it cruel to expect two people who happen to be unhappy to stay together? What if one spouse is unhappy and the other spouse still feels in love? Who do we defer to? We have to base our marriage on something more solid than our feelings.
Tim Keller states in his book, “The Meaning of Marriage,”
Two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years.
I found this to be so true in my own marriage. It was also true for the lady at the park. She told me after a few years, she forgot how unhappy she once felt. She could only feel grateful for the change she saw in her spouse, and the maturity that he displayed after so many years of working through problems and celebrating small victories.
Putting our heart in it’s proper place
It was refreshing to hear these words of hope. There is a reason divorce is so rampant these days. We are taught to follow our hearts from toddlerhood. (Thank you Disney.) Our hearts change like the wind. It’s dangerous to let emotions sway us so much.
I say tell your heart to zip it, and rely on something more trusting. Wrap your marriage in the Gospel and see how much easier it is to forgive, love, and most of all, stay. I’m not suggesting you live a cold existence without emotions. Loving and feeling passion is good. Divorcing because you’ve moved on and feel happier elsewhere is bad. Giving and receiving affection is healthy. Deciding you need a different, better kind of love (that makes you feel good) is bad.
The last thing the lady at the park said was,
Never let your temporary feelings make permanent changes.
That is amazing advice. Let’s be slower to make rash decisions. Let’s serve others instead of demanding to be served. Let’s love our spouses instead of complaining that they don’t make us feel happy. Don’t throw your history and your future away all at once. Just take a few breaths and take inventory of your blessings. The statistics are in your favor—you’ll probably one day look across the room and be grateful you stayed.
UPDATE: Read my follow-up post here.