He struggles with money, or rather the lack of it. When he was a kid, he was determined to grow up and get a good job as an engineer so he would never be poor. Fast forward to now, where he is a high-school math teacher whose wife is a stay-at-home mommy who writes on the side. Every month or so he has his moments of struggle with looking at how much other people have and wishing we had whatever amount of money it would take for him to feel financially secure.
When he struggles with this, I feel badly. First, I want to start pointing out all the ways we are so very rich. I want him to see all that we have. I want him to trust God. Then, I wish I could fix it, somehow give him what he wants. I might try to write more or submit more stories, but I know full well there's no way I can bring in the magic amount of money needed for him to feel content in this area. Because really, the struggle is about gratitude and contentment, not a dollar amount. Even if I could give him a ton of money, that would not fix the struggle to be content and grateful.
This regularly-faced temptation has just made a huge impact in my marriage. I realized something very important this week. After almost ten years of marriage, it is suddenly clear to me that one of us has been keeping our marriage less than it could be.
I thought it was him. I just found out it was me.
How did this revelation come, you ask? Well, I realized my besetting sin and his are actually the same. We both struggle with being ungrateful and discontent with what we have. Only his is with money, and mine has always been with romance in our marriage. I have always had beautiful, grand ideals for our marriage. I never wanted our marriage to be good; I wanted great. I didn't want pleasant; I wanted passionate. I wanted us to be working on it, striving toward greatness, growing, nurturing, etc., etc.
For me, every month or so (or sometimes more often, I admit), I would read about some marriage that was what my ideal was, or some act of love that was what I was hoping for, and I would struggle with discontent. I would hint or plead or argue to try to get my husband to become different than who he is, to change for me. I didn't call it that of course. It was more like, "Romance is something I need, and so if you really loved me, you would care enough about what I need to do whatever it took to meet that need." Something like that anyway--though usually it took much, much longer to say it. My husband would feel overwhelmed. He would try to point out the things he had done to show love to me recently. He would try to say what I expected was impossible for who he is. All I heard was that I wasn't important enough to him to make the effort.
How do these two connect? It finally clicked with me that he felt the same way I felt when he struggled about the money. I'd love to fix his money struggle, but in reality I can't. I can't make enough money to meet that need, because the need is between him and God. He needs to trust God to provide.
I was putting my struggle toward him, not seeing that mine is the same discontent, the same lack of gratitude. I struggle with not trusting God to provide, too.
Emotionally and spiritually, I was throwing stones at him not only when he struggled with his besetting sin, but when I struggled with mine.
I can't believe all these years I thought I was fighting for a better marriage when in reality I was fighting for my own selfishness.My problem was not him and me, but me and God.
He cannot meet my impossible romance desires anymore than I can meet his impossible money desires. To try would leave us both failures and the other disappointed. I am ashamed to think of the burden I have placed on my husband all these years, how I have made our marriage less than it could be because I wanted more, and put before him a goal he could never attain.
I don't know if I'm making any sense here, but this is a huge light-bulb moment for me. Why did it take me ten years to get this?
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool. This is a verse from Proverbs--I've even used it in a book. Apparently I haven't read it enough!
The question is, now that I know this, what am I going to do about it? I have an idea, a rather radical one, but I think I should pray about it for a bit to see if it's really how God wants me to apply this new information to my marriage...
Until next Friday then, what do you think? If you've got any advice (or a confession like mine), please post and let us all learn from you!