One day when we were newlyweds, my husband didn't call me from work as he usually did. Why hasn't he called? Doesn't he think about me anymore? When he arrived home I asked him why he hadn't called me. His response was that the phones weren't working. After he hopped in the shower I called his workplace to find out that the phones were indeed working fine, and that they had been throughout the day.
I was convinced there was another woman. We hadn't even been married long, and terror struck at the thought that adultery was in the picture. When I asked him about it, he came clean instantly. Yes, he was at work, and yes, the phones had been working properly; he just didn't want to deal with me and my "hoopla." Lying seemed easier than enduring the angry-wife inquisition.
I married the wrong person. As a young bride, I soon realized I had made a huge mistake — one of the biggest of my life. He was controlling, mean and belittling. The hurtful things he said cut me to the core, and I wondered, How will I ever survive this?
He also married the wrong person. I was overcritical, self-centered and belligerent. I also flirted with other men and loved the attention. Life was still all about me, and I made no apologies about putting career above marriage. He had made a mistake.
Or so it seemed.
And yet the marriage lasted. It lasted through words being used as daggers, actions that screamed, "You don't matter" and weeks of silence and cold stares. Somehow, we knew we had made a lifelong commitment — a covenant before God — even though we didn't know Him personally, not at that time anyway. Later God would teach us to learn how to become one, to become "we." But that didn't happen until five years down the long — and for us — twisted marriage road.
What do you do if you feel as though you married the wrong person? How do you go from "me" to "we"?
Control your thoughts
One of the most challenging, but also most beneficial, disciplines is to get in the habit of thinking positive thoughts about your spouse. "We … take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Pay attention to the thoughts you allow to roam freely and — if they're not uplifting — replace each with what is good about your spouse.
You can wake fully enamored but by lunch be so furious with him that all you want to do is scream. You can be ecstatic about seeing her at the end of the day, only to have your fantasies of a romantic evening turned into a night at the fights.
We all have rough edges, and accepting your spouse just as he or she is and giving the benefit of the doubt helps conquer those petty and hurtful thoughts. When she is taking a long time to get ready, instead of allowing yourself to get frustrated with the wait, say to yourself, I have a beautiful wife, and she takes time to look good. I am so thankful for her.
I have a husband who works extremely hard and I used to think, He's such a workaholic. I have since replaced that thought with, My husband loves to work, and he changes lives daily. I am so proud to be his wife and have so much respect for the man and pastor that he is.
Be ready to fail
Marriage will bring out issues in you that you never knew existed. You will fail. You will say the wrong thing. You will react instead of being understanding. You will display unbecoming behavior. The solution is to apologize and start new. Allow God to mold you into a better and kinder mate.
Any married couple will tell you they have made mistakes and done things they wished they could take back. Don't allow shame to immobilize you. Shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown says, "Shame cannot survive being spoken, it cannot survive empathy." In marriage you must be willing to admit wrong and try again. Over and over.
With God, every day you get to start fresh, and that's how it needs to be in your marriage, too.
Come to terms with reality
Engaged couples forge through the preparations for the big day — venues, invitations, cake. After a whirlwind of whimsical emotions and passionate energy, the day-to-day of ordinary life awaits them. That couple who always looks happy and enamored with each other? They have struggles just like everyone else. But when couples accept each other fully and without criticism, that's when their marriage will reflect God's love.
As for me and my husband, in those early years of our marriage neither of us knew Jesus as Lord. Once we surrendered our lives and our marriage to Jesus — it was a process, and we are still in process — we found the true delight in loving each other and receiving the love we both longed for. "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39).
When we lost our selfish selves, changing our mindset to one of thinking not only of "me" but what is best for the other, that is indeed when we became one, when we became "we."Lucille Williams is a relationship coach and author of From Me to We: A premarital guide for the bride- and groom-to-be.