Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)
TITLE: Facing the Future
By Sarah Heywood
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“Hmph!” Gripping the edge of the mattress, back to my husband, I willed myself to not even accidentally touch the smallest bit of him. I was hurt. And I was angry. How could he not see that I was right and he was totally wrong? He might not bend to my will, but I would make him pay! From now on, I was no longer his wife. Oh, I wasn’t running off to a divorce lawyer, but I began to devise ways in my sinful mind to punish my husband for his insensitivity. He’d be sorry!
Sound familiar? I hope not! But more than likely, this is a scenario that has played itself out in your own bedroom at one time or another. Marital conflict is a given in almost every marriage. I remember being so shocked after my first big fight with my husband as a newlywed. How had the man I had lovingly said, “I do” to only months before, turned into this pig-headed, idiotic, selfish monster? I was positive I had just made the worst mistake of my life in marrying him. And now I was stuck! As I envisioned the rest of my life, I saw myself unhappily shackled to this man I no longer recognized.
I didn’t know it, but the Lord was about to start a great work in me. My husband and I made up after that first big fight, but our relationship began to get stuck into a pattern that was not God-honoring or beneficial to the growth of our marriage. Things would be fine most of the time, but then my husband would say or do something that irritated me. I’d snap at him, he’d snap back, and it would escalate from there. We started our family and then I had raging hormones on top of being extra-sensitive normally. It wasn’t a fun time!
As I would read my Bible, I could see that my own marriage was not what God intended. It became evident to me that God had given us an example of what He intended marriage to consist of with His relationship with the Church. As I compared my earthly marriage to God’s “marriage” with his people, I could sadly see that mine was lacking. So what was I to do? Every magazine article I read, every talk show on television, and a whole lot of my friends told me that if I wasn’t happy, I should leave. After all, my husband wasn’t being sensitive to my needs and I deserved to be happy!
It took years, much prayer, many tears, and a whole lot of focusing on my own shortcomings, but I finally latched onto some principles that radically changed my marriage. I learned to treat my husband with respect. I looked for things to admire in him - and told him what I saw. I became both inwardly and outwardly appreciative of the man he was and all that he did for our children and me. I learned (well, I’m still learning this one!) to hold my tongue when I’m initially offended by him. I found that if I approached him later, and not in the heat of the moment, he was generally more willing to see “my side” of things. I learned to forgive him.
It’s been seventeen years now since that first big fight. I’d love to say that we fixed all our incompatibilities and every day with each other is like walking through a field of clover - all sweetness and light. But it’s not! We still struggle with our sinful natures and there are plenty of stressors in our life that can easily tip us into disagreements. But our marriage is strong and healthy now as I continue to implement the concepts of respect, submission, and affection.
We have seen a number of couples we know walk away from their marriages. The pain of that was easier to handle than the work of making things right. And that makes me so sad because I know we could have easily been among them.
I still mutter, “hmph” every so often and there are moments that I’d cheerfully throttle my husband! But I’m so thankful for the things God taught me and for the marital truths I’ve managed to latch onto throughout the years. I don’t dread the future anymore. Instead, I embrace it, especially if it means I’m walking into it with my husband by my side.
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