Here I was again, engulfed in loneliness and discouragement, my new companions. I was having another pity party, destroying any chance of falling asleep.
Ughhhh! This was happening more and more as I lay my weary body down beside my husband, Dave, who seemed oblivious to the tug-of-war in my mind.
I should be content and happy, I scolded myself. I have a godly husband and three sons that keep me busy, but I wish my husband would help more, listen more, lead me more spiritually, and be more attentive to my needs!
More, more, more. Yes—God, I need more! I thought.
It feels like I do everything, and no one cares or notices, especially my husband. I fell asleep, scheming how I could get my husband on board with my plans to change him.
A surprising revelation
The next morning, Dave and I were teaching a group of young moms. Dave began eagerly telling the women what almost all their husbands probably experienced growing up.
“When your husband was a boy, he most likely had a mom or dad or a relative cheering for him, telling him, ‘Good job!’ As your husband got older, he might have had a coach, a teacher or some mentor telling him he was good at something, and that coach or teacher cheered him on and encouraged him to work harder.”
Dave was totally into his talk now. He’d been sitting beside me when we started, but he became more animated and stood up to make his points.
He told them that as a college quarterback, he had coaches and fans cheering him on and saying, “Dave Wilson, you’re the man!” As he said those words, he started clapping his hands enthusiastically. His energy was filling the room, and he had completely captured the women’s attention.
He then explained that when I said yes to his marriage proposal, I shouted to the world, “You are the man of all men!” As he yelled those words, he looked straight at me with a look that said I was his biggest cheerleader.
Then he lowered the boom.
“But ladies, after we have been married a while,” he said sadly, “we men walk in the door after a long, hard day and all we hear is, ‘BOOOOOO!’”
My heart dropped. What was he saying … that I boo him all the time? My face turned red as I picked my heart up off the floor.
An uncomfortable conversation
On the ride home, I defensively asked, “You think I boo you all the time?” I then said, “I’m not booing you. I am HELPING you!”
“It doesn’t feel like help,” Dave quietly replied.
He wasn’t angry or defensive, which bothered me because he seemed broken.
His battered soul worried me and I wondered, Was I the cause of the wind going out of his sails?
Dave then added, “You may not literally boo me, but you are constantly critiquing the things I do or say. You fix the things I have already fixed, like redressing the kids after I dressed them, or telling me what I should or shouldn’t have said to family and friends. It just doesn’t seem like I can do anything right in your eyes. All I hear is ‘BOOOO!’”
Silence engulfed the car. I was shocked! I had no idea he felt any of this.
Looking at myself
When we got home, I went straight up to my bedroom and fell to my knees, where I usually had deep conversations with God. It seemed it had been a long time since I’d been in that spot.
My prayers had become a rant-session about my husband’s inability to meet my needs.
Conviction flooded my heart as I fell completely prostrate on the floor.
“Is it true, Lord? Have I gone from Dave’s biggest cheerleader to his biggest critic?”
Jesus gently answered, “Yes … and it’s because you believe if you change Dave, then you will be happy. But Dave wasn’t created to make you happy. Only I can do that.”
I realized I’d made Dave and our marriage more important than my relationship with God. And whatever we prioritize over God becomes the source of our joy.
Dave is an amazing guy, but he makes a really bad god!
“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (Proverbs 3:6).
As I “put God first” in my life that day, I was filled with a love and appreciation for Dave that I had lost. As I began to cheer for him again, he morphed before my eyes into one incredible man and husband.
Taken from Vertical Marriage by Dave and Ann Wilson. Copyright © 2019 by Dave and Ann Wilson. Used with permission of Zondervan.