Let’s start with the anger that most every woman feels in the early years of marriage. He’s not spending enough time with you. He never does anything special for you. He’s not picking up his stuff or doing the chores you’ve asked him to help with a thousand times.
It’s not fair.
What about all the housework and bill paying and laundry you’re doing? Should you just stop doing all of it, because he doesn’t seem to appreciate your constant labor on his behalf?
You try, “Can we talk?” He listens but doesn’t hear you.
You ask to talk again. Again. Again. Again. He makes some promises in the moment, but you don’t see any change down the road.
Here’s what I have to say to you: This is normal.
Marriage is Refining
Do you know what marriage does? It refines you and your husband in a hot fire. In the refining process, all the impurities (dross) come to the top and are removed by the refiner.
The first nasty layer of dross is selfishness.
It’s disgusting how selfish we truly are. Hidden under a tux and a $1000 taffeta wedding gown were two people with their own internal desires who said, “I do” and didn’t realize there were hidden demands that came in small print with that promise.
You want stuff from your husband. You want him to do certain things. You want him to act in a certain way. If you don’t get it, you cry and find a way to punish him.
He wants stuff from you. He wants you to do certain things. He wants you to act in a certain way. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he gets frustrated and finds a way to punish you.
As someone who has been married 25 years (each one happier than the year before), let me give you some advice.
To break the cycle of selfishness, someone has to stop being selfish. Since you’re the one reading this article, I recommend it be YOU. And don’t lie to yourself –just because you’re the one doing all the housework and bill paying or whatever doesn’t mean you’re the shining star in the story.
If you’re mad because you’re not getting what you want from your man, then there is a layer of selfishness in you. I mean, were you doing all that for him just to get something for yourself? Think looooooong about that.
In James 4:1 we read:
What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
Your passions (desires for pleasures) are making their own demands on your marriage.
Jesus gives us some unpleasant words in Matthew 17:24-25:
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Why don’t we ever hear those words at a wedding?
“Do you, bride, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? Do you promise to deny your own desires for pleasure on a regular basis, every day for as long as you both shall live, for the sake of following Christ?”
Yeah, nobody makes that vow.
Do you see where the war is? It’s not between you and your husband. It’s between your internal desires for pleasure (why won’t he just take me on a date?) and the opposing commitment to deny that pleasure in order to follow Christ. (Even if you’re not a follower of Christ, I think you can recognize that your desire for pleasure regularly comes into conflict with a greater good.)
It’s an internal war.
But now the happy-ever-after news. My husband and I just celebrated 25 years, and we are indescribably joyful and peaceful in our relationship. I attribute that success to every little time each one of us was willing to die to self. And just so you know, that battle over self never ends. Ever.
So, keep the finger pointed at yourself. Fight the internal battle. It’s worth it.
With love from Montana,
Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She has a daughter who is married and a son in college. Christy writes to help people know God, and you can find her new book about becoming blameless on Amazon. Or follow her devotional blog at ChristyFitzwater. You can follow Christy on Instagram here!