What If We Loved Anyway?
What If We Loved Anyway?
The journey of marriage, in my imagination, is like traveling on a picturesque highway with the convertible top down and the breeze flying through my hair as I glance over at my handsome husband. But sometimes a strange thing happens. We notice the scenery keeps repeating itself. The realization sets in: instead of an open freeway, we’ve been stuck on a roundabout for a while!
Romance can turn into frustration when we start noticing cycles that are on repeat. Generous feelings of love we once had for each other become more measured and reserved after we have tried to resolve something, but keep finding ourselves in the same difficult spot time after time.
He leaves the kitchen towel in the wrong place and his dirty laundry on the floor. He is moody and distant. He sleeps while I get up with a crying child. He dismisses my feelings or says something rude.
But it’s not just him. I forget where I put the keys and I mess up our budget. I give into assumptions about his behavior before he even walks in the door. My tone is sharp and I lose my patience. I criticize his problem-solving and I let negativity take over.
Choosing to Love Anyway
We married human husbands, imperfect and broken like ourselves. We chose to love our husbands for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Perhaps we envisioned sickness as the times when the remedy is a bowl of chicken soup. Or maybe as an elderly couple, like a scene from the movie Up.
Yet the more subtle and common “sickness” might be in the form of unhealthy emotional responses, perspectives or habits.
On this journey of life, God’s gift of marriage has provided you with a life partner who has a different perspective than you do. Most of us could easily identify our spouse’s areas where health seems to be lacking. Although offering our unique perspectives to one another in love can help each other become who God created us to be, we can easily fall into the habit of trying to fix our husbands.
Let us not confuse helping with controlling. There is no learning without some failing, and there is no growing without some pain.
The reason silly things like wet towels and lost keys can become such large problems might simply be because we like things done our way, which is one form of control. But other things like moods, negativity, and criticism might indicate a deeper process that you or your spouse might be going through.
In marriage we should be working towards creating a safe and honest environment in which we can freely yet lovingly express our thoughts and feelings. When a problem is brewing, however minor it may be, prioritizing a time and place for this open communication is essential. It can also be cumbersome and awkward! It takes years of practice to be able to take each other’s honest feedback with an open heart and react in a loving, healthy way.
When You Feel Stuck on Repeat
But what about all the times it doesn’t end that way? What about all the roundabouts we get stuck in? That is when we get tempted to move toward control. If he’s not going to ever pick up his towel, then I’m not going to bother with his laundry at all. If he’s not going to stick to our budget, then I’m just going to take charge of all the details.
When we choose extremes rather than the delicate balance marriage requires, if we are really honest, we are trying to protect ourselves. You don’t want to be hurt, and you don’t want your husband to be hurt. Instead of trusting God with the process he has you in, you take charge.
But controlling others is not love. After all, God, who is perfect love, does not control us. He gives us a choice and loves us unconditionally regardless. That is the power of the love of Jesus. In the middle of our mistakes and failures, the strength of his love does not waver.
Sometimes we want love to be carefully calculated and meticulously measured. Yet God’s love is generous and extravagant. He doesn’t play by our fear-based rules because his love is fearless, and it is the very way in which He loves that transforms us.
What if We Loved Like That?
What if next time your spouse clearly did the opposite of what you suggested, you loved anyway? What if the next time your spouse makes a mistake, you offer the gift of forgiveness?
I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a love I did not deserve: the love of Jesus. And I’ve also been on the receiving end of the love of my husband when my actions or words were less-than-loving. That is the kind of love that breaks down my pride and heals my heart. That is the kind of love that helps me grow into more of who I was meant to be.
Let’s generously give that kind of love away.
Wife Step: In what area of your marriage do you currently struggle with being generous with your love? What could be one small step towards loving generously?
Joy was born and raised in Mexico, but fell in love with a Minnesota guy. More than a decade, many geographical locations, and four kids later, they are currently settled in the city of Minneapolis, MN. Together they love helping couples discover the incredible adventure marriage was intended to be. They have led many marriage small groups, ministries and retreats, but their favorite way to connect with other couples is by simply sharing life together. Although homeschooling, parenting and helping run their vacation rental take up most of her days, Joy is always finding ways to sneak in time for writing, reading, design and coffee with friends. You can find her posting on Instagram @joy.ballard or @theriverlodgemn. Photo credit: Woodford Sisters Photography