Here is my number one, life-altering, marriage-saving bit of advice:
Seek the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Stay with me, now.
I realized about a year ago that I was putting unrealistic expectations on my husband to fill my deepest longings and be my source of joy. This caused so much disappointment and bitterness in me that I had lost almost all feelings for my husband. I literally said to God one day, “I have love in my heart for him, but I am not in love with him.”
Our marriage had suffered so so deeply from so many unhealthy arguments stemming from so many unmet expectations. It got to a point where I honestly thought that there was no salvaging our relationship. We both did, and we both admitted it openly.
The reason we got to that point is that Ethan was never meant to fill my deepest longings and be my source of joy – ONLY JESUS CAN DO THAT.
So there is it. My words of wisdom.
Seek Jesus with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Ask the Lord to renew and strengthen your love for Jesus, to rekindle it and to set your heart on fire for Him. Ask Him to be your primary source of love and joy, and then watch your marriage flourish, because He will give you the ability to love, forgive, and serve like you never thought possible.
Seeking Jesus FIRST is what really allowed me to start loving Ethan unconditionally.
Doing this freed Ethan from my crushing hopes and expectations. It freed him to be what he is: a broken human being with his own struggles and flaws. He no longer had to be the perfect husband and father all of the time at the risk of me falling to pieces or facing a long and soul-crushing argument with little hope of resolution.
When Jesus is our source contentment and joy, He helps us to love and forgive as He does. We are able to give grace more easily and freely.
Rather than harboring anger and bitterness, the Lord has filled my heart so much that I can actually comfort him and we can quickly and calmly resolve our disagreements. We have reached a level of transparency and honesty and trust that I never ever thought would be possible in our marriage. And I know that is because we have gotten to a point where forgiveness and grace flows freely in our home.
This change did not happen over night, but it did begin with one single prayer of surrender and a renewal of my vow to Jesus – that HE would be my strength, my joy, my peace, my purpose, and my passion. And then it continued as I put Jesus back on the throne of my heart each day, making more and more effort to know Him.
Through the overflowing and never-ending outpouring of love from the Father, I can then pour out and be a blessing to my husband.
Seek the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Being a submissive and respectful wife will naturally follow.
For the wife of an unbeliever, this is just as or perhaps even more crucial for you. They may not be seeking the Lord, but YOU can. You are responsible for your relationship with Jesus. You alone. You can be a light and a blessing to your spouse. You can minister to them through showing them the unconditional love of Christ in action. That is quite the calling! If you’d like a book with some more encouragement and wisdom, I highly recommend “Spiritual Mismatch: Hope for Christians Married to Someone Who Doesn’t Know God” by Lee and Leslie Strobel. It’s a phenomenal book and has been a great help to me and many I know personally.