Packing List Item #3
Once upon a time I married the man of my dreams. This man who swept me off my feet in a grand display of princely romance was everything I ever wanted. I was absolutely sure we would love each other forever and ever, never arguing, never fighting, never enduring a moment of disharmony.
After all, we were Christians. And Christians don’t fight… of course they don’t.
We fought. And when we did I thought my world had fallen apart. We were bad. Broken. Less-than. Shamed.
Then one sunny day near our one-year anniversary, a godly older couple sat us down for dinner at their house and opened our eyes to reality. After three decades of marriage, Hans and Alice admitted that they still had conflict. Instead of calling those conflicts fights, they labeled them emotional disagreements.
They laughed at the looks on our faces as they told us the truth.
Conflict between a husband and wife, they explained, is inevitable.
After all, the goal of marriage is oneness, and melding two distinctly different people into one heart and mind and purpose is a messy process. Emotional bumps and bruises happen along the way and have to be talked out.
Learning over the years to handle those emotional disagreements with grace and forgiveness is the tricky part. No one does it perfectly. No one gets it right every time. We learn and grow and repent and accept the less-than-perfect reality of who we are.
Over years and years, I’ve learned that all those glitches and arguments and hurt feelings don’t have to be someone’s fault. They just are. We bump into each other by accident.
And I’ve learned that…
Just because my feelings are hurt does not mean he hurt my feelings…
Just because I’m angry does not mean he made me angry…
Just because I don’t feel loved doesn’t mean he is doing a poor job of loving me.
The truth I wish I’d known when I married Phil is this:
The wise woman is slow to blame and quick to cover with grace.
And that’s something I wish I’d known when I married Phil. Such a simple truth that would have made our beginnings so much better.
What every husband wants in marriage is not to be put on a wobbly pedestal, only to be shot off every time he makes a mistake. What he craves is a refuge place where he can be who he is without having to live up to an impossible standard of rightness.
Phil was not my Prince Charming. He wasn’t supposed to be! Trying to heave him onto that platform of perfection was just setting both of us up for failure.
Pack Item #3 away girls...be slow to blame. Knowing it now may make all the difference in the world.
From my heart,
P.S. Tomorrow I have one last simple truth to pass on to you. My dear girls, I wish I had packed the next liberating truth in my suitcase long before embarking on this journey of marriage. I think we would have resolved our conflicts sooner.
Packing List Item #1 - I can choose how I feel
Packing List Item #2 - Be careful what you say