After Tom and I got married and got ...through that great honeymoon period, I began to see the differences in us - funny how that happens, huh? One of the huge differences between us is that I love people, noise, chaos, stories, laughter, and Tom is more introspective, likes his downtime as quiet and rest. People and noise revive me and they exhaust him. Thus began the "issues." I began to resent those Friday nights when he was exhausted and wanted to rest and I wanted to get together with friends, play cards, do something. He probably had no idea that while he "rested," I stewed, thinking all these "I want" and "I need" and "Why is he" thoughts.....
Resentment is a bitter seed that literally eats the soul and sucks the very life from you. Around this time, I heard Dr. James Dobson (the Christian author/radio personality from Focus on the Family) talk about expectations and how expectations is one of biggest killers in a marriage, because we don't communicate what we expect and then we are mad because we didn't get it.
He told the story of how he had been off flying all over speaking on marriage and children and how to have a great home, doing his thing, and he was literally exhausted at the end of the week. He described how sitting in the plane, trying to sleep with a crying baby next to him, he was thinking to himself, "I cannot wait to get home so I can just rest, so I can sit down and have peace and quiet and not have to do anything or even talk to anyone." While he was thinking these thoughts, his wife had had the responsibility of the home and two children all week, and she was thinking, "I cannot wait until Jim gets home so he can take over and I won't have to deal with all this responsibility." Can you see the picture taking place here???
When he gets home, he goes straight to bed and gets up Saturday thinking that he will just rest all day. His wife reminds him that they had volunteered to have a party for their Sunday School class at their home that Saturday night, which meant the house had to be spotless and the yard needed mowed, on and on. He said he let her have it for scheduling a party after he'd had a week like he'd had, and she let him have it for thinking only of himself, like her week hadn't just been peachy, and the silent war began. He had to mow the yard, then she decided she had to have the umbrellas on the tables by their pool scrubbed, so he scrubbed them, furious by then and full of resentment. He said they both did their chores in silence (outwardly, of course; screaming at their lungs inwardly).
They got through their party, laughing and visiting, of course, not speaking to each other or getting close to each other. After everyone leaves, they get in bed and lay in more stony silence until they fall asleep. To top things off, they get to Sunday School the next morning and sit through the class with those fake smiles pasted on their face, still fuming inside. The teacher teaches about marriage (of all things!) and then asks him, James Dobson, the guru of great marriages, to pray. He said it was then that he broke down and just told the entire class what had been happening in their home for the past two days, and he and his wife were able to finally let it out and breathe.
He used that as a great example of how when we do not make an effort to communicate our expectations, things can go horribly wrong, but perhaps if they had had a discussion midweek about their expectations for the weekend, they could have managed the problem much better.
I realized that I had made up expectations in my mind for my husband that he didn't even have a clue about. I was resenting him for things that were his basic personality, one of the reasons I chose him to be my husband! Our mind can truly be our own destruction! I have tried to be positive in my life as I was raised by great parents, but when we get into interpersonal relationships, we can forget all those things and just begin to want what WE want, what WE need, what WE just can't live without....
One of my friends says selfishness is the root of ALL problems, and I have thought about that a lot, and I think she's right. If we don't get along at work, is it because we want it our way? If we don't get along at home, is it because it had to go down just the way we said? If our family is hard to get along with, is it because we want them to be like we are? Think it through - she's right!
Anyway, God began to really work on me and show me that I had the most incredible husband, and he began to call on me to praise him. He showed me all the good things I was overlooking in my haze of "I want." Tom is so generous - he never complains if I spend money on myself or the kids or the church or even a random stranger. Never once has he said, "I cannot believe you bought that" or anything even resembling that.
He loves my children and has accepted them as his own. He told me once when he married me, he knew I was a package and he thought long and hard about taking on the whole package, but he has never done the "they're your kids" bit. He loves me and tells me every day. He has told me time and time again that I'm the best thing that ever happened to him. How can you resent someone who praises you like that?
He loves my parents and wants to be with them any chance we get. He'd move them into our house in a minute. What husbands want their in-laws to live with them? Although I must admit he says who wouldn't want "Patty, the best cook in the world" and "Roy, Mr. Fix-it!"
I could go on and on bragging on my husband, but I tell this story to encourage you who are struggling in your marriage, you're feeling defeated, worn out, worn down, to please agree with me to an experiment - one month long. Begin to praise your husband or wife - praise them at LEAST three times a day. Try to think of something to encourage them with before they leave for work. "Thank you for working so hard for our family - I don't tell you enough that I notice how hard you work, and our lives have been enriched because of it"....
Then send them a text or email or phone message in the middle of the day, "You know, I was just thinking about the time you did such and such for me and how grateful I was - want you to know I'm thankful for you." You know what you need to say. You may say, "I can't think of anything good to say." Start thinking - make a list - think of why you married them to start with, and go back to those days and remember how in love you were, how full of hope your future was.
Those days CAN be revived! Tom and I's marriage is so, so good these days, and has been for years and years - we are blessed beyond measure. But as I'm telling the truth, if I had let my mind go where it was wanting to go, if God had not intervened and turned me around, we could be living in a house of silence, or a house divided, or not even living together. What a waste, what a shame, that selfish thoughts can destroy so much! Please, I beg you, begin to praise your family, your children, your spouse, whoever comes to your mind that you have resentments toward - let God open up your heart to the possibilities of a great marriage - it IS there for you - just begin to praise God and praise them!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.