Things have been especially stressful around our home lately and, in many ways, our home feels like someone took a stack of cards and threw them in the air.
My husband is tired from an unusually heavy travel schedule and added pressures at work. I am tired from big homeschooling changes, new commitments for our four children, and from just having to fill in the gaps when he is gone. Added sickness the past few weeks has not helped matters.
We don’t expect this season of transition to last forever. But nevertheless, it is here and it has brought with it an added pressure on our typically easy marriage.
My husband and I have been short with each other. We have allowed the little annoyances of life to influence our attitudes and interactions. We aren’t having any big “problems,” per se, but the added stress has just built up and there have been some less than loving words said.
It has been breaking my heart (and my husband’s). Mainly because we know that the real enemy here isn’t each other—it’s everything that we’re enduring.
In those recent moments where I’ve had to repent for my words or actions (things that I am truly embarrassed and saddened that came out of my mouth), the Lord has impressed a phrase on my heart that is bringing conviction, clarity, and comfort:
My spouse is not the enemy.
My husband, the man with the big blue eyes and gentle, quiet spirit, is not who I need to be attacking right now.
My husband, the faithful provider of our home and my partner in parenting, is carrying an excessively large load right now and as a result is tired, lacking, and suffering just like I am.
My husband, the man who has been my closest confidante and dearest friend for over fifteen years, is reacting in an understandably human way to our circumstances. He needs my support and love.
The true enemy is our schedule. Our added stress. The sin we’ve exhibited in speaking to each other.
The Climax and Awakening
Yesterday morning was kind of the climax of it all.
The night before we’d watched a very sweet romantic movie together. We’d both found the movie refreshing and enjoyable.
And yet, the movie alerted me to a longing that had been in my heart. Yes, it was a movie with idealized characters and situations, but I saw that the main characters had developed an easy, everyday-romance type of love. It was a demonstration of love that I’d seen us exhibit for years in our marriage, and now, I felt like was totally missing.
It broke my heart because I knew that we’d made choices to make it this way. True, some of those choices were outside of our control (work travel, ongoing regular doctors’ appointments for one of our children), but others were not.
I saw how our everyday choices—especially the extra commitments we’d taken on—had cost us this special closeness.
The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And, in this way, we’d allowed him to do just that in our marriage.
Everyday, small, incremental choices to allow ourselves to be depleted had trickled down and reduced this level of intimacy.
Confession and Commitment to Change
Today, as I write this, I am praising God because I see Him lifting some of those commitments from our family. The travel schedule has lightened; the ongoing doctors’ appointments have an end in sight.
Now, as we both seek to restore that which we’d allowed the enemy to steal, the question is: “What else do we need to give up? What other commitments, attitudes, and habits need to change?”
I am still seeking God on this. I know that I need to reformulate how we do things and what we will and won’t commit ourselves to. And honestly, I’m saddened and afraid to ask what that might look like.
To start the process, the Lord is telling me that I need to ask for my husband’s forgiveness in over-committing myself and allowing that to affect our marriage.
Because even though I know in my heart that my husband is not the enemy, I haven’t necessarily been acting like that.
My prayer is that we can then, together, ask Jesus for ways to learn to restructure our daily interactions so that we build each other up.
Have you allowed your marriage to become less than its full potential, and have you perhaps—in daily interactions or in your thoughts—viewed your spouse as the enemy? I want to encourage you to seek God on this. Be honest and confess it to Him. Ask Him to show you the habits or commitments that need to change. Ask Him to give you opportunities to show unconditional love and to honor your husband so that your overall mindset can change.
Alicia Michelle is a lover of Jesus; wife to her best friend of 15 years; homeschooling mom to four passionate and creative kids; and Owner/Editor of YourVibrantFamily.com. A former Christian magazine editor, she is also the author of Plan to Be Flexible: Designing A Homeschool Rhythm and Curriculum Plan That Works for Your Family and the creator/producer of Vibrant Homeschooling’s online video courses “bloom: A Journey to Joy (and Sanity) for Homeschool Moms” and “rhythm: Guiding Your Family to Their Ideal Learning Flow,” along with site printables. She is also a monthly contributor for several popular homeschool blogs. When she’s not keeping her household and the site firing on all cylinders, she can be found snuggled under a warm blanket with a cup of tea (and, if she’s lucky, something drenched in chocolate).