Love in Progress
We had an epic fight one night, probably 3 months into our marriage. Though resolved, emotional aches and pains lingered with both of us the next day.
The following evening Ante called me into the washroom to brush our teeth. It was important to me that we get ready for bed together each night, developing some sort of bedtime routine (brushing, talking, praying, et cetera). We’re still working on it, but the brushing thing is under control. That particular night I wasn’t exactly running over to join him; I was hurt and discouraged by the previous night. Once I made my way over, he grabbed me and held me for some time. When he let go he told me to look up, pointing to a white piece of paper with writing taped to the corner of our ensuite mirror. This is what it read:
“Hardness of heart is the root of all failed marriages.
Hardness of heart is…
Lacking genuine sorrow over sin.
Continuing to go back again and again into temptation, lies and deceit.
Choosing to think of yourself as most important.
Choosing what’s best for you and not the other.
The small and huge lies you convince yourself are not a big deal.
Tearing down with words.
Comparing and contrasting your wrongs against the other and making the judgement.
Responding with defensiveness.
The need to always be in control.
Waiting for the other to say sorry first.
Demanding the other change first.” (faithwire.com)
He proceeded to tell me the points that applied to him…. Where he had been allowing his heart to remain hardened. Reading the list, I had to admit that I carry a hard heart in more than a few ways.
Over one year later, that list remains on our mirror. Crinkled by water splashes, it is a daily reminder to examine our consciences and hearts, humbling ourselves before one another, asking for forgiveness. We are learning more each day to communicate our failures, explain our feelings, and to not only ask for forgiveness, but to forgive without limit:
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
It is important that men feel respected by their wives. It is equally important that wives feel loved by their husbands. Sometimes we think this should be automatic, finding ourselves pondering, “If we were really compatible, she would never tear me down, or he would just know the right thing to do or say. That’s love, right?” Perhaps in a perfect world. Living in this fallen world, raised by imperfect parents, surrounded by imperfect family and friends, overstimulated and exceedingly self-interested, we develop in a way that is disordered; we must learn how to love one another selflessly, satisfying both. This progress will only take place with humility and communication, and just as the list above suggested, we must be open to learning. There is no shame in gently telling your husband or wife what you need from them...
Ante: “It frustrates me when you tell me how I feel.”
Roberta: I can imagine it’s not enjoyable when I put words in your mouth… I’ll stop.
Roberta: “Can you spend 30 minutes a day completely focused on me/us?”
Ante: I can do that. I want to do that.
Last year I would have thought that my husband doesn’t love me because we don’t spend enough carefree time together. Now I understand that I can’t assume such terrible things, and that the desires of his heart actually match mine, it just doesn’t come to him as naturally. That’s why God put us together… To teach one another, and to grow together.
We know that there are spiritual forces trying to tear us down, hurting our marriages and relationships in the process:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith." 1 Pet. 5:8-9
Humility becomes our greatest weapon. St. Louis de Blois writes, “The first degree of humility is the fear of God, which we should constantly have before our eyes.” God first, then all else.
May God Bless you and keep you well :)