Every Wife’s Choice: Chapter One Excerpt
“…I desperately want a good marriage, and I want to be a great wife! Most of us do. We enter our marriage with well-meaning hearts, intending to uphold every word of our wedding vows. We want to build our husband up, not tear him down. We want to cheer him on, not criticize or condemn. We want to be good wives, but emotions take control, husbands fail to cooperate or connect, and miscommunication stirs up the same crazy conflicts over and over again.
That is not the type of marriage I daydreamed about, and that’s certainly not the type of wife I imagined I would be. After all, my husband was the man I wanted from the first day he walked into our college commuter lounge and set his books on the table across from mine. Tan face, bright blue eyes, overflowing with adventurous stories from the Marine Corps and a godly passion to preach about the God who transformed his life, Teddy Lee was absolutely fascinating. He made me laugh, he made me think, he made it hard to breathe…
After a semester of growing friendship, ours was a whirlwind romance. We dated for a whole week before he said those three little words I had already been feeling. He asked me to marry him at the beginning of August, and I walked to him in white four weeks later. I was the girl who saved every kiss and every ‘I love you’ for my future husband, and at long last the one I hoped and prayed for was whisking me off to the honeymoon and our happily ever!
Unfortunately our picture perfect union suffered a rude interruption from reality shortly after returning home. I honestly don’t remember the details of our first argument as husband and wife, I simply remember the devastation. We were supposed to be madly in love with one another, not mad at each other! What happened to our happiness?! Barely into our wedded bliss, was this already the beginning of the end?
I felt incompetent. Inadequate. Insecure.
I felt like I was failing as a woman and as a wife.
I began gauging the status of our marriage by the way I felt at any given moment. As women we are well aware of how fickle and fleeting our feelings can be. Uncooperative children, a messy house welcoming us home from work, heavy news from a friend, a string of bad hair days, and all the other dramas of life can quickly put us emotionally on edge. Let’s not even discuss the impact of what time of the month it is. Our hearts can sink or soar several times over the course of a day. If our understanding of love is limited to what we’re feeling, our experience of love will be similarly fickle and fleeting. Is that the love you had in mind the day you said, “I do?”
So if love truly is more than a feeling, what is it? Romance novels and Hollywood blockbusters portray a love which defies unimaginable odds, manifests itself in constant, passionate sex, and always finds a way to a happily ever after conclusion–and all this in a mere ninety minutes! In reality life comes at us unscripted, uncensored, and unrehearsed. We don’t have a team of technicians on stand-by to retouch the scenes of our life or cut the ones that distract from the story line. We don’t get the advantage of a second or third take. We handle life and love as it happens moment by moment, and that can get messy.
I brought my confused and hurting heart to the One who created this crazy little thing called love in the first place. I begged God for clarification, and in a moment of stillness He brought the familiar phrases of a favorite Scripture passage to mind. The well-known words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 washed over my parched heart, and I drank them in. I needed to know what real love was; these verses seemed happy to answer! Love was patient. Love was kind. It did not envy. It was not rude.
No sooner had a sense of peace settled over my heart than doubts began to creep in. Sure, love is patient, but how do I choose patience in the midst of emotional turmoil? When frustration boils over into meltdown mode, how do I release those pent up feelings and act patiently instead? Love is kind, but where do I draw the line before my heart begins to feel like a doormat?
I needed more than pretty cliché’s.
I needed practical answers.
My quest for understanding began that day. If my capacity to live out the love I promised the man I married hinged on the hidden truths of this passage, then I would pour every ounce of my theological training into unpacking each phrase. I began in hopes of uncovering the secret to a guaranteed happy marriage. Several years and several studies later, however, I see the truth behind the happy marriage hype.
We cannot control the fate of our marriage because we cannot control the mate we have married! Marriage is a two way street, and building a meaningful relationship requires both spouses to be in the same lane. That’s not always the case, even between the closest of couples. Though we may try, we cannot control our husband’s actions or reactions. We cannot control his commitment. We cannot control the choices he makes in our marriage, and sometimes that’s a very painful reality.
That’s why this book isn’t about marriage.
It’s about us.
It’s about the empowering truth of every wife’s choice to live out the love God calls her to, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, regardless of the shape of her marriage. It’s about committing our efforts and energy to everything God dreams of accomplishing within us without reservations or regrets. Yes, we hope for healthy marriages. We hope for happy husbands. I have seen God work redemptive miracles in my relationship with the man who so quickly stole my giddy, girlish heart. I cherish our memorable moments but am learning to love through the challenging times too. I can choose love when my husband acts loving towards me…and when he does not. I can choose love when his humanity leaks out, and I can choose love when my own sinful nature springs up to the surface and rocks the boat.
That is the wife I want to be, one who lives and loves as a woman of strength and dignity, just as God created me. I cannot control the fate of my marriage, and sometimes that is a scary reality, but loving even when I feel hurt or angry or lonely or betrayed–that, by the grace of God, is within my control. The practical how-to lies in the pages ahead, and I cannot wait to unpack this passage of Scripture together with you! His Word is living and active; His truth transforming and powerful! So let’s invite a fresh infusion of God’s Spirit into our lives as wives, step off the emotional roller coaster, and embrace the freedom of loving beyond the mood of the moment…”