“Engagement” with the Real Problem

Today we are joining Marriage Monday to discuss engagement.

 

Engagement Ring

When my husband, then boyfriend, Gary was a teen, a very smart, protective youth pastor told Gary never to tell a girl he loved her until he was ready to marry her.
I completely understand this man’s reasoning. I know that there are way too many teen girls and guys who prematurely say “I love you” in order to get something more from the relationship—whatever that might be. (I’ll leave that up to you to fill in the blank!) So waiting to say “I love you” ensures that your relationship is ready for that kind of commitment.
However …
During my courtship with Gary, it created something of an unintended diversion or scapegoat in our relationship.
As our relationship progressed and time went by, I began to feel “loving feelings” toward Gary and wanted to declare those to him. But I knew that he would not tell me those same words in return unless he was ready to propose.
It was as if Gary was dangling a carrot in front of a starving “Buggs Bunny.”
So it wasn’t long before I began to blame my melancholy mood swings, my over-exaggerated fears, and my need to control on the fact that he would not say “I love you” to me. In my mind, this became “the problem” in our relationship. I could not see around, under or over it, so after about a year and a half of dating, I broke up with him.
I know, this doesn’t sound like a story of “engagement,” but just hang in there with me!
We remained apart—relationally and distance-wise—for over a year. We corresponded somewhat, but we both tried to move on. Eventually I went to the same school that Gary was attending to pursue my Master’s degree—only after he encouraged me to do so! It was only a couple of months later that he said those long-awaited words to me …
“I love you … will you marry me?” (cue – floating cherubs strumming their harps)
His declaration was wonderful. It was what I had waited for far too long! But here’s the kicker … it didn’t get rid of “the problem.”
I was still sometimes moody, sometimes fearful, and often controlling. And although I soon realized that my insecurities were not going to vanish with the proclamation of his love and commitment, I didn’t realize that I was expecting him to “fix me” until much later.
What a burden I placed upon him at the altar!
This is not a problem that only starry-eyed single girls have—and believe me they very often REALLY have this one—but it’s also a problem weary-eyed women and wives have. Somehow “the problem” in their relationships seems to be their boyfriends or spouses. And I’m not saying that our male counterparts don’t have “problems,”
But I am saying that they can’t fix “our problems” and we can’t fix theirs.
So, now whenever Gary and I have a marriage problem, I don’t look to him to fix it. First of all, I look to God to give me insight into what my part of the problem is. Then I ask God to give me the strength, wisdom, courage and humility to deal with myself. Then, and only then, can I truly do something about “the problem” giving me the ability to be engaged and stay engaged with my husband. 

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Photo by Tele Chhe (Flickr)

  • Faith@GoldintheClouds

    enjoyed reading your story…..and how true! Only Christ’s redemptive work in us can truly “fix” anyone……thanks for sharing!1

  • Chasenajsmom

    So. Guilty. Why do I continually harbor the belief that if my husband does not do a specific thing to validate me, I am not valid? And I can’t tell him what that specific thing is because, then it wouldn’t be validating me, merely attempting to pacify me. Poor Guy. Thanks Beth

  • Lisa Maria

    Hi Beth.. I can relate to this one! I keep thinking I’ve ‘outgrown’ this, but then something happens to make me realize that its still a work in progress. Thanks for sharing!

  • SO insightful! And I totally relate. It took me almost 14 years to realize that I expected my husband to rescue me from my issues…to “save” me…to be my savior.

    His failure to meet my needs was, in my mind, 100% responsible for all the problems in our marriage. I even found Christian marriage books and several Christian counselors who agreed with me!

    “But I am saying that they can’t fix “our problems” and we can’t fix theirs.”

    I’m printing this out and posting it above my computer and on my mirror! SO true, so true.

  • This is such a common problem for women (and men too). But it’s really not until we surrender our spouses to God, that He can work in our lives to make the necessary changes. I’m so glad you’ve discovered that, Cheri! It ends up creating a vicious cycle when we don’t.

    Thanks for stopping by and being so encouraging to me! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    Yeah, me too. I know this and have changed for the better over the years, but every once in a while I fall back into this kind of thinking. I guess that’s part of being human. But thankfully, God never stops reminding me to focus on Him and not on Gary for my help and fulfillment. Thanks so much for stopping by and being an encourager!

  • messymarriage

    Yeah, it’s called the human condition and I’m not sure we’ll ever fully escape from this tendency, Kimberly. But God can redirect us when we seek Him and listen for His Truth in the middle of our needs. I guess our hubbies should cry on each other’s shoulders whenever we expect too much of them! haha! Thanks for sharing an encouraging word! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    Thanks for stopping by, Faith, and encouraging me. I enjoyed your story as well!

  • Denise Oldham

    Enjoyed this post.

  • Chrysalis

    I admire your constant desire to grow. I will add this: Just as men need to *see* our Respect for them, we need to *hear* their words of Love. God has made us differently, and it’s O.K.

    , and for joining us for Marriage Monday during such a busy season.

    Blessings, e-Mom ღ

  • Rebecca Boerner

    I can also relate to this issue. When we got married, I had an emptiness in my life and was searching for someone or something to fill it. As you call it, “loving feelings”, convinced me that Chris was “the ANSWER”! When it finally dawned on me that only Christ could fill this emptiness, my outlook began to change and my relationship has only gotten healthier. I am able to receive what I need from Christ(the TRUE answer) and in return am better able to love my hubby and enjoy the companionship/relationship God intended for Chris & I to have.

  • Excellent thoughts here within your story! We can so easily pin all of our hopes, dreams, and frustrations on our husbands, while our eternal Husband waits for us to come to Him instead. It’s so wonderful when we as a couple choose to go to Him first!