This is a guest article from my friend Sheila, author of 31 Days To Great Sex and founder of ToLoveAHonorAndVacuum.com. Sheila opens up and shares honestly about how her husband hurt her months before they married, how that pain has lingered and what God is teaching her about it.
My husband broke up with me on my 21st birthday.
Well, he wasn’t my husband back then. But he was my fiance. And, with tears streaming down my face, I handed the ring back.
Four months later we were back together, and eight months later we did get married. Now he couldn’t ever leave me again!
But those scars of rejection didn’t heal just because he looked deeply into my eyes and said, “I do.” They stayed with me, and sometimes, even today, 24 years and several marriage books later, a little part of my heart still hurts.
I’ve always had issues with rejection. My father walked out when I was two, and moved with another woman to the other side of the country. My step-father, who had been my dad day in and day out from the age of six, walked away when I was fourteen.
Throughout my teenage years, as I was desperate for someone to care about me, I promising myself this: God loves you, Sheila, and one day, He’ll give you a man who will love everything about you.
That promise made me feel better then. Unfortunately, it wreaked havoc on my marriage.
I bought into that Disney lie that love is supposed to be a fairytale. Love means that you see that one person who completes you. Love means that you overlook faults and notice only the good things. Love means that what you want, above all, is just to be with the person forever and ever. The object of your love is also the source of your deepest happiness. That’s what makes it love!
But what if it’s not? I believed that lie–at least subconsciously. Oh, sure, I may have told myself that “love is an action” and that marriage is about commitment, not just about love, but deep inside I still wanted someone to complete me, to tell me that I was his world.
In the first few years of our marriage we had a ton of problems. Like Jennifer (The Unveiled Wife), I had vaginismus which made sex excruciating. We tried to love each other and work towards a solution, and we did get there after a few years, but feeling as if Keith was disappointed in me (even though he was really only disappointed!) cemented this idea that I wasn’t truly loved.
And the more unloved I felt, ironically, the closer I felt to God. I would read verses like “God is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18) and believe that that meant that God nurtured my hurts in the same way that I did. I would read about how “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and I would bask in the fact that God loved me perfectly, unlike some OTHER people I knew.
But I was missing out on the bigger picture of the love God put right in front of me.
My husband and I did grow, and overcame so much in our marriage. Our second child was born with a serious heart defect, and passed away when he was only one month old. We knew in that moment that we had a choice: we could either grow together or let the grief rip us apart, and we chose to grieve together.
We deliberately nurtured hobbies to do together. We took up camping, hiking, even birdwatching. We played board games together. We spoke kindly to one another. We definitely worked on our sex life!
And 98% of the time I would say I had an amazing marriage. But then, occasionally, when I became stressed or moody or just plain out of sorts, this nagging feeling would come back.
Maybe the reason you’re so unhappy isn’t because of your daily life. Maybe it’s because you’ve never been truly loved.
One night two years ago, after we’d been apart for two weeks with work schedules, I decided to unload all of my disappointment. But it’s rarely a good idea to stay up talking about deep issues when you’re tired; you just blow things out of proportion. And I didn’t simply blow them up. I stuck them in a cannon, fired at Keith’s weakest points, and came pretty close to cheering when I hit the mark.
After we mopped up all the destruction, I sat myself down with my journal and had a long talk with myself.
I needed to let go of that dream that I would have a fairytale love, because that fairytale isn’t even biblical!
I don’t want to be Keith’s idol; I want to be his partner, as we serve God together.
My childhood and teenage hurts set me up to long for an intense, almost needy, love. But God knows that’s not what I really need. After all, what is more beautiful? A love that never challenges you, or a love that fights through grief and holds your hand in a cemetery, as we stand over a tiny gravestone? I choose a love that lets me cry all the way home as we drop my youngest daughter off at university. A love that doesn’t let me get away with sitting inside with my computer all day, but drags me go out on hikes, even in the snow. A love that calls me on it when I’m being selfish.
And when I focus on the love I thought I needed twenty-four years ago, I miss out on the love I have today.
The lies we believe about love have the power to rip away the peace and happiness we should have in our marriage. And the little twisting of things we believe about God do the same thing. I needed to realize Truth: My marriage is what I make of it. God never designed it to be a Disney fairytale that fills all our needs; only He can do that.
Besides, looking back, I realize that my love story is better than a fake one. I’m just sorry it took me so long for that message to reach my heart.
Sheila is the author of 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesn’t Happen by Accident. She expands on the story she shares here in Thought #3–my husband was not put on this earth just to make me happy. She blogs everyday at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com.
Get her free download, 36 Ways to Bring Sexy Back to Your Marriage, right here!