This I Believe

Linda - Spartanburg, South Carolina
Entered on February 12, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family


You don’t set out to create an unloving home. You believe that you can love this man that you’ve chosen to marry better than anyone else, maybe even better than his mother. But shortly after marriage all his inadequacies and weaknesses loom over you causing an inability to see anything else but this defective, weak man. This man no longer meets your expectations and you deserve better, you tell yourself. You have married beneath yourself and your life would be successful and prosperous if you just hadn’t married this defective man. You believe commitments are just that and divorce is not an option. Consequently day after day you must remind him of how sorry he is; somehow you think this will force him to improve.

You slowly begin to remember that your Mother felt the same way about your Dad. Your Dad was defective too. Oh, did he ever have shortcomings; couldn’t make a descent living, never grew up, couldn’t communicate and the list goes on. Even those things, which could have been strengths, turned into weaknesses through your Mother’s eyes. His love for children was only an escape because he never grew up and could not relate to people his own age. All those arguments you listened to as a child about tithing really were baffling, too. If he had tithed, as my mother desired, would love, peace and prosperity have resulted?

In your quiet moments, you begin to examine and evaluate relationships. You look at your Mother and then yourself. You ask God to shed his light upon your attitudes. What would happen in your marriage if you reacted in love instead of criticism and condemnation? Would it make a difference? How would love behave? You’re really not sure because you didn’t grow up seeing much love in this husband-wife relationship.

Can you break this cycle? Your reactions to this man in your life have been only negative ones for so long. You ask yourself, “What keeps me from letting go of my obsession and breaking through the stronghold of family attitudes and values.”

A quotation from C.S. Lewis comes to my mind. “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”

Now loving God, I tell myself is obeying God. God tells me to be patient, kind, long- suffering, and always seeking the best for my loved one. I am to be an encourager. Now that is something new to me. You know, it seems I heard someone say once that we can only change ourselves, not others. Others may change because we did, but not because we nag or coerce them to change. When you behave as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him or her. Therefore, I must change my behavior.

Some years later, I’ve learned to delight in this man I married. He’s still not perfect but neither am I. The blaming game is over. Yes, I had to ask forgiveness; from my husband for my verbal abuse and equally important I forgave my Mother for the behavior she modeled before me? Each morning I must seek God’s help in this business of love and learn as C. S. Lewis said, “When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”