Marriage: Not for the Faint of Heart (part 1)

By Tish Hedger

Marriage is a temporary shadow of the eternal reality of Christ loves for the church and how the church is to love her groom.  Marriage also brings startling opportunity for growth or stubbornness.  If you have previously tiptoed around your capacity for sin, you may want to brace yourself when you marry, because marriage will lay you bare.

Ephesians 5:29 says that “no one every hated is own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…

Your spouse is never the enemy.  Satan is bent on going to whatever means possible to destroy and attack marriages.  If he cannot end them he desires to see them dry up so they loose their potency to declare the gospel.  Before marriage I thought I was a pretty godly woman, after marriage I realized the monstrosity of selfishness that could at times rule my heart.  These days I am sometimes the ‘what not do’ and sometimes I’m the ‘what to do’; but here are a few discoveries and reflections that have helped me over the years.

It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.  This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up.  Others matter more than you do, so “don’t fuss, dear; get on with it.” –Audrey Hepburn

1) Do not entertain thoughts of offense towards your husband.  Respect or disrespect starts in our mind.  Satan is the ‘accuser of the brethren’ and he comes with accusations against our husbands.  Silence his conniving words and say, “Hey no one talks about MY man that way” (finger snap is optional)“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

2) Prioritize your friendship.  When life is crazy and nerves are shot sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is find a way to laugh together.  Go on a date, or if that’s not a possibility wait till the kids are down and find a way to connect.  Put music on, be silly, eat ice cream, play a game together, do what fits your personalities, but find a way.  It is not selfish to prioritize time together, it is not only a healthy practice it is a necessity.

3) Tell them when your feelings are hurt.  I really struggled with this at the beginning of marriage.  I had a bad habit of ‘stuffing’ my feelings.  Sometimes I would think how could it not be obvious, surely he knows.  Other times I would pout or be cold and when he asked what was wrong I would blatantly lie and say “nothing”.  (Which p.s. this is so confusing and frustrating to guys it makes them want to quit communicating and set themselves on fire).  Other times I would not want him to know because I felt stupid that my feelings were hurt.  I would think, “Tish stop being a child, your feelings should not be hurt over that.”  It takes humility to come to our spouse, not in accusing frustration but in honest vulnerability, and say “My feelings were hurt when this happened.”  No longer do they have to guess what our passive aggression means, nor are they oblivious to our feelings while we are in danger of growing resentful.

4) Kindly clue them in when you need them just to listen.  You might also mention that listening does not require they agree with the ‘logic’ of your emotions (they will find comfort in the fact that we are well aware that at times our emotions are absurd when measured by logic).  Tell him you need him just to understand your emotions.  At first he may look at you like you are the Mad Hatter, but they will be pleasantly surprised at how ‘verbal processing’ can bring a peace and understanding in their wife that ‘problem solving’ can’t bring.  Sit back and relax boys and let your listening do the heavy lifting!

So. Which of these four ideas present YOU the most struggle?

In Part Two Tish will continue this discussion with six more great reminders.

Published December 4, 2013

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Tish Hedger

Tish is a counselor at Emmaus Counseling in Kansas City. She is married to Joshua Hedger, pastor of Emmaus Church in Kansas City. They have a two-year-old son named Asa and an adopted 17-year-old daughter named Trisha. Tish writes for FTC, Flourish and Emmaus and speaks at women's conferences and retreats.
You can follow Tish's writing at her personal blog, on Flourish, and at For The Church.