My young adult years have consisted of the same plot line, only now it's romantic comedies and Jane Eyre.
And now I am married to my own prince. He is kind, strong, and handsome. But he isn't the answer to all my longings. He did whisk me away from my family, but I have more responsibilities now than ever. And my life is certainly far from boring, but not in the way I had expected.
I have met dozens of women who seem to be in this same predicament. Their husbands aren't Prince Charming. He is insensitive to her feelings, he refuses to grow up, he isn't romantic. We were hoping that our Prince would stay a prince. Or that if he started off as a frog, that he would become a prince when we married him.
So we throw sarcastic remarks his way. We mock him when he tries something new. We reject him when he tries to show affection. We complain about him to our friends. We nag him in front of his colleagues. We're hoping that he will get the hint and change his ways. Why can't he see that we're only putting him down because we want what's best for him? Why can't he see that he's not living up to the fullest potential of the Prince Charming we have built up in our minds?
Where does all this disrespect leave us women? Are our lives any happier or more fulfilled because we tear our husbands down? Is he being more loving and affectionate to us because we disrespect him? Actually it's quite the opposite, and I've had to learn this the hard way in my own life. When I tear my husband down emotionally, I'm tearing myself down. Why? Because of the way God made the marriage covenant:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.
If someone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains , and he God.
1 John 4:15
In the same way I am united with Jesus in a covenant, I am also united to my husband in a covenant. So that everything that happens to him happens to me and everything that tears him down tears me down.
The Lord had to reveal this to me over the course of several years. And it wasn't easy. I wanted to hold on to the resentment I had against my husband. I wanted him to know how angry I was that he wasn't the romantic, exciting, fulfilling person I wanted him to be and that he wasn't doing all the things that I thought a good husband should do.
Here are the things I learned:
1) I started to pray daily for my husband. Let me tell you how difficult this was at first. But how many others do I pray for on a regular basis and see their lives transformed by God's love, yet I fail to pray for the most important and closest person in my life?
2) I have to daily acknowledge that Prince Charming doesn't exist. Movies, books, magazines build a character who has all the great qualities I want and none of the bad. He is essentially a robot, a ghost. Real men (and women) have flaws and quirks and part of the beauty of life is learning to be okay with that.
3) I came to terms with the fact that my husband will never change...at least not by my nagging him. The Lord will grow him in His own time. But his essential characteristics will always remain the same. In fact, here and here are some excellent articles written by men that explain this very point.
4) I made a list of all the things that attracted me to my husband in the first place. He's kind, he's hardworking, he encourages me, he's pure-hearted, he's funny, he's generous, he's resourceful, he's great with kids and animals. And I revisit this list over and over again.
5) I understand that there isn't anyone out there better for me. I'm not talking about putting up with an abusive relationship. If you find yourself in one of those, please seek help for yourself and your children. I am talking about thinking that a stranger will fulfill my need for romance. That a fling or an affair will somehow quench the need for attention and purpose in my life. It won't. And the possible emotional and relational consequences aren't worth it.
6) Whatever I am unhappy with in my life, I will project onto my husband. I had been frustrated at my own lack of personal achievement in my life, at my lack of friends, at my inability to lose weight, at my ever-present feeling of disorganization. And instead of facing those issues in my life, I was trying to make my husband face his. So I changed my tactics: instead of trying to change him, I started to work on myself. And I started to feel more fulfilled in my life and that has bled over into my marriage.
7) I am understanding the freedom I have in being a wife and stay-at-home mom. I have often felt like a prisoner in my own house. As if being a wife and mom doomed me to a lifetime of baggy clothing and cleaning the house. I started to realize that staying at home gives me the freedom to make my own schedule, to take classes, read books, try recipes, join groups, and learn new skills that I wouldn't be able to if I had to work outside the home.
The road out of my Prince Charming mentality towards my husband has been long and difficult. But as my image of the perfect husband slowly dissolves, the image of the man my husband really is becomes more clear. My eyes are being opened to the man he has been all along. And that man is the man I fell in love with.