Somewhere in the four and half years, amidst buying a house, having two children, mourning my dad, and starting a new job, I forgot how to love my husband.
It actually surprised me that it took only four years. I’d heard about the “seven year itch” so I expected to have a few more years at least before we were so broken that I wanted out.
But apparently when you pack life so full of major changes, it doesn’t take as long.
And really all that happened is that I lost the ability (or desire) to focus on him – to truly care about his heart. When we were dating, it was easy. I was able to set aside my own stuff because I so wanted to care for him. It’s not just that I was putting my best foot forward. Loving him was pure joy. It made me deliriously happy to know that I had such a unique role in his life.
But even early on in our marriage, I lost sight of that. Little hurts began to pile up and I quickly started focusing on myself. On my hurt. On what I wasn’t getting. On my own damaged feelings. And these things soon became all-consuming. The more I focused on myself, and my own junk, the less I was able to care for him. I forgot that my primary purpose as a wife was to take care of my husband’s heart.
It’s no wonder that so many marriages fall apart.
Even though we’ve both committed to never even consider the “D” word, I was alarmed with the direction our marriage was heading. We were speeding toward an emotionally dead relationship where I had my walls built sky high in an effort to protect my own hurt heart.
But God. (Isn’t that the best phrase ever?)
God puts certain people in our lives for very specific times and purposes. Many times they’re probably not even aware of their God-appointed role. He orchestrates little, seemingly random details into circumstances that, only when seen in hindsight, make perfect sense,
One Sunday we were sitting (right next to each other, yet I felt as if I were emotionally a million miles away) in the front row at church, and the guy who was speaking – someone we consider both a friend and a leader – opened up in a moment of complete vulnerability and shared about his own past struggles to love his wife.
A man – a pastor, no less – brave enough to share with our entire church that he struggled to love his wife. He mentioned some counseling that they’d done and simply said “Sometimes you need help. It’s okay.” Then he went on to preach his sermon.
His words, so brief and simple, resonated deeply with me. It was like, even though he was speaking to the entire church, his words were meant just for me. As if God was saying, “Becky … I hear you. You’re not alone. What you’re feeling is normal. And there’s hope.”
So we met with the counselor. Over several weeks, she helped me reset where I had derailed. She reminded us what it means to truly focus on someone and care for their heart. She helped us identify each others’ core pain points, understand where they originated, and know how to recognize when we’d triggered one.
This stuff sounds simple, I know. But when it’s done correctly, it is life-changing. Literally.
Things are still not perfect. I have a long way to go and a lot of lifelong habits to change. But now I also have hope. I’m hopeful that we’re headed towards a beautiful, God-focused, life-giving marriage.
And I can’t wait.
If you’re interested in more about the counseling program, check out The Dunamas Center.