I've been married twice. Once in a lovely garden ceremony blessed by "The King of Kings" with our family and friends melting in the heat of late July, and once by the " other king" himself, Elvis Presley, in a dusty old wedding chapel on Las Vegas Blvd. My weddings were 10 years apart and I must say I was absolutely much more ready and willing to be a bride and a wife as we danced to "Can't Help Falling in Love" sung by the great crooning Elvis impersonator. My same sweet and handsome groom held on to me tightly, and I was more in love with him that day than I was when I married him the first time.
Renewing our vows was really special to both of us. In my heart this time I really understood what I was promising. The man I was again vowing my life to had become someone different in those 10 years, as had I. We had been tried and tested in ways that sweet little bride wearing white in the garden ceremony could have never imagined.
We had become parents quickly (J was a honeymoon baby), had a second baby 13 months later (oops), endured through a painful and humbling bankruptcy thanks to the crashing housing market. I had many health issues back to back. We bought a business, struggled with a business, financial crises, illnesses and deaths of loved ones young and old. We've had sick children with hospital stays, family conflicts, became foster parents, and ended up with a high risk surprise pregnancy. We've been in court and in turmoil with renters who didn't want to pay rent, and we've moved 2 times. I've battled my pride, his pride, ugly weeks and months, bitterness, shame,walking on eggshells, anger, adult tantrums, and on an on. Most of the years of our marriage I often wept in my pillow and planned my escape.
Many times my mind would wonder to plans of my single motherhood in an apartment....I had every detail planned as I would lay awake all hours of the night. I am a survivor and I could survive this. I had no idea how to fix the brokenness I felt except to plan to run. I would often text Jenn the code, "Husband for Sale!" meaning that things were bad, again. I wanted out. Of course that was not what God wanted for me or for our family, but I knew better, I wanted this part of my life to end, it wasn't what I wanted. I would take my favorite of our two dogs with us and feel protected...every detail.
You see I was sowing the seeds of bitterness and reaping a harvest of discontentment. This is a very dangerous path to choose my friends. It can lead to a lot of anger, unfaithfulness, resentment, envy and fear. You want the greener grass.....which we all know doesn't exist on this side of heaven.
Thank you Jesus that you never let me get ahead of your plans for us. Standing there in front of Elvis and my sexy husband 10 years later, I am so thankful God knew my pride would fail and stopped me in my tracks every time. I've heard many sermons and read many a book on marriage. And every time I would desperately listen for what my husband needed to hear. How could he love me better, how could he fix us. I was placing all the blame on him for the broken parts of US. I wanted him to change, desperately sending out prayer requests to my amazing tribe of friends to pray for him and help him change. Oh how my little heart had the best intentions. Oh how my little heart was very very deceived. Guess who needed to change? Guess who needed prayer? Guess who should have known that the more I understood and acted on my role in our marriage and as a wife, the more God would honor our marriage and change both of us to love each other in the ways God intended. Give up?
Here is what God graciously and mercifully has been teaching me in the last 11 years of our marriage:
1. My husband deserves and is created to be RESPECTED. This looks different for each man, but it is the root of their hearts. For my type A husband this requires me to respect how hard he works (60 + hours a week with his full time job and our business). He feels respected when he comes home to a clean house, or at least the downstairs clean and orderly. Seriously, it speaks love to him and he really really really is so grateful and happy when he comes home to it. Bonus points for the upstairs being clean too, but hey, this working momma is tired and overwhelmed. I am type B....clean houses do nothing for me...I don't see messes in other people's homes, more messes equal more fun in my opinion. I wish I could keep up with a model looking home, they are pretty, but they don't determine my mood. A clean home shows my husband respect because it communicates that I value that he has worked hard all day for us and I want him to be able to rest. He has communicated this to me so many times, and yet it took a long time for me to understand what he really was saying. On days I can't even keep my eyes open, let alone pick up the Legos, and clean the dishes...I text him letting him know that I can't do it on this particular night,and that speaks respect to him as well. I'm still learning this and my husband has learned to love me in it...in my messes, and there are many. I've learned the more I honor and respect him, God does a work in both of us. It's pretty spectacular. How can you show your husband more respect?
2. My husband needs to RENDEZVOUS with me to feel emotionally close to me, and although I don't know if I am the same way, I do emotionally need to be close to him. Wink wink, nod, nod. Sex is very important and God created it for more than just procreation. I mean, really, couldn't we have just taken a pill or something if it wasn't meant for pleasure? It is pleasurable and even though us moms are exhausted 7 out of 7 days a week, it is is so important to have sex. It was created for married people because in some awesome God created way, it brings us closer together. I try to sneak in a weekend nap or drink some caffeine to have more energy for sex. A glass of wine helps me relax and put away the worries of the impending science projects J has due the next day, the heartbreaking teenager I'm worried about from work, the bills to pay and the dishes that unfortunately have not made it out of the dishwasher. Whatever you need to do, make it happen. I love my husband, I want my husband, he's hot, a great lover, and we are great together. There are times when you may feel distant, lonely, bitter, angry and sex is the very last thing you want to do with your spouse, but there is something that God does with sex that sometimes brings you back together. It's just how God created us, and it's great, but definitely a learning curve for me in this last decade. Hold on, gotta go drink my Monster....he's closing the restaurant tonight.
3. I have learned that ROLES are so important and God created wives and husbands to be differently wired for a reason. My role is to take care of the household (personal assistant as I call it) and everyone in it. My role is to be my husband's helper and support him and submit to him as the leader of our home....yep there is that submission word. I love that I'm not the one in charge, type Bs don't want that pressure. My role is to be the heart and the soul of our family. I also work full time, so sometimes I have to hand out roles to babysitters, housekeepers and grandma, but I'm learning how important my created role is. My husband's role is to provide, lead and protect us. My man provides and works so hard that I worry about his health at times.....he is our protector and handyman, and humor and housekeeper and has become the true leader of this Roth family. Learning these roles and understanding them did not happen overnight and sometimes they get out of balance (hence him being the housekeeper), but when they are in balance......oh it's a beautiful thing to appreciate each other and thank each other.
The more I've obeyed the things I've learned about my covenant to my husband, the more work God has done on both of us. My husband has realized what I need as far as how I feel loved (texts, phone calls, time spent together, little family overnights...). He's incredibly patient and kind to me when I don't deserve it. He works and works and works for us everyday. If he's not at work, he's working on the yard, the house, fixing the messes and literal floods I've created. He helps get the kids ready for school, takes the little one to preschool, runs our business, coaches preschool soccer, and then goes to his 12 hour shift at the restaurant. I'm exhausted most days, but he's beyond exhausted. He's more than a fantastic father.....I think maybe the best one in the world, and he's a work in progress. Aren't we all. Our grass is not greener my friends, it has been cut back and dead and mowed and re-seeded and trampled and dug up and brown and ugly.....it's in a season of green after much toil.
At church today my pastor preached about God's kindness and how it leads to redemption. Even when we are going through the darkness and wanting out, God can and is faithful to redeem us. AMEN! It hit me as I sat there that God has redeemed our marriage so many times for His glory...and He will continue to do so over the years. God wants to redeem marriages, He longs to redeem marriages, He will redeem marriages. He can redeem marriages. He really loves marriage.
I can't wait for our 20th anniversary in 9 more years. Elvis again or Hawaii.....whatever the Lord provides.
(I really would love to pray for you if your "husband is for sale!".....or your "wife is for sale" right now...please email us or send us a Facebook message if you need prayer. I've been there, I'll be there again. I want to support you in prayer. Prayer is so vital. Marriage is a marathon and man I really hate running long distance. I would love to offer you some water through prayer no matter what mile you are on.)