How to Strengthen Your Marriage. This is one of my recent journeys leading me to a much stronger marriage.
How to Strengthen Your Marriage: The Hard, Sad Truth
As sad as I am to say it, the thought of divorce crossed my mind all too often. I always read articles about not threatening divorce. I knew divorce was a sin and I really didn’t think it was an option for us, but I was at a loss of how I was supposed to live through these marriage struggles. Every single time we came to a disagreement it would escalate into a huge argument. I felt like such a victim, as I can imagine now, my husband did too. My emotions had created this woman I didn’t want to have looking back at me in the mirror. How can I stop these reactions from taking control over me? I cried to the point of hyperventilation, hiding in my bedroom so my kids wouldn’t be scared of their pathetic Momma.
It’s embarrassing to say all of that, but its important to tell the truth here, the hard, sad truth, because I assume someone else has experienced this too. I didn’t know how to strengthen my marriage.
How to Strengthen Your Marriage: Another Perspective
I had to change my ways; that was inevitable. Who would want their children gaze upon their mother, so unhappy with her daily life? Imagining our future as a family, I didn’t want them to slowly begin to hate me. It was one thing for me to hate myself, but I couldn’t stand the thought of my family, my husband included, doing the same. The articles I googled led me in a horrible direction that helped me lay blame on my other half. It pained me to expect love from him a certain way, only for it to fall short. I felt like he enjoyed disagreeing with me and pushed me to the point of no return on purpose, because it made him look better to be calm. These were some horrible days for us and they lasted many years.
How to Strengthen Your Marriage: Find a Role Model
There is this very special woman in my life, my grandmother, whom I feel handles difficult situations with grace and dignity. Maybe she didn’t do it all right all the time, but her demeanor was always spot on. I have never seen her angry or argumentative, and I needed and always wanted to be that way. Just how do I do that? I couldn’t imagine being okay with words that made me feel anger. I knew what I needed but I had no plan to get there or where to begin. My love for my husband was still there, but he couldn’t see it. I didn’t even know if he still loved me. All was lost, or so it seemed at the time.
How to Strengthen Your Marriage: Love Yourself First
Then, I remembered a phrase. I remembered a phrase that husband of mine would say all too frequently, and I hated it! During disagreements (no matter if they were calm or fierce) my man would say to me,
“You have to love yourself first, before you can expect others to do it for you.”
Any time he spoke those words to me, I would fume. I thought it was a cop out, I felt he was making an excuse for why he didn’t have to be nice to me. It never crossed my mind to even attempt what he was asking me to do, and yet I finally got to that point. I finally decided to fix me. Where did I begin? With my faith. I didn’t know where to look first so I turned to the internet. I knew that could be very dangerous, but it was where I was.
How to Strengthen Your Marriage: Question Your Faith
As a cradle Catholic (having been born into the faith), I knew the rules, but I really didn’t know why any of them were in place. The expectations were known, but how was I to know the church was right? I questioned my faith hardcore and found answers I liked and some I didn’t, mostly through CatholicAnswers.com, our priest, Catholic radio, and Catholic members of our church. During those times, I prayed a lot, but I didn’t feel like it would do much good, because I hadn’t been a model citizen and I was still reluctant to change. If I changed completely, who would protect me from the wrongs my husband or anyone else would show me? How would I stand up for myself? I kept praying, and I kept digging. I asked the hard questions…
Why do the priests have the right to transform the host into Jesus’ precious body?
Do we really need to go to confession, I mean why can’t I talk strait to God?
What’s the big deal with birth control? Why is NFP, among other techniques, the way of the church? It is my body!
I love the saints, but I don’t pray to them…. What’s that all about?
I even asked many questions about the reality of the bible and God’s own existence.
So I asked the tough questions and I evaluated the hundreds of answers I heard or read. I researched the bible. My questions prompted more questions and more research, and the next thing I knew I was beginning to fall in love with the Catholic faith and with our God in a more astounding way. Comfort was found in listening to catholic radio and I began praying the rosary almost daily; I even took a hard walk up to church for my first confession in years. It was a learning experience and I was ready to spread the good word.
How to Strengthen Your Marriage: Where Does Your Faith Lead You?
My Catholic faith lead me directly to Jesus. I love Him more than I love myself. I’ll argue that while I was working on me, I was truly working on my relationship with the Lord. He needed to be number one in my life for things to work smoothly. The more I prayed, the less I felt I was sinning. I was changing, almost physically, because I had more confidence, more love to give others, and definitely more patience with the world around me.
Ultimately, I had found a new admiration for our Lord, but did that fix everything? No, it made it even harder! Family members and friends don’t like being schooled on their own faith. Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes hearing they might be doing something wrong nor do they like even questioning themselves based off someone else’s word. My patient spouse was becoming very impatient with me and it was a whole new struggle. I still wasn’t certain where my marriage was headed, but I knew I wanted to show God my faith in many directions, and I felt compelled to pray more and more about everything really, but for my marriage more specifically.
Prayer worked for me, but not in the way you might think. There wasn’t this magic feeling of God answering my prayers. Most of the time I didn’t know what to pray for so I prayed I would figure out what to pray about. What the Lord gave me through the power of prayer is peace. I became much calmer, and I was slowly eliminating my outrageous outbursts during arguments. It took several months before I noticed a strong change, and even longer for my dear husband to see and trust the change too. That was the biggest step in our road to marriage recovery.
How to Strengthen Your Marriage: Realize It’s a Constant Work in Progress
Our marriage is still difficult, but I haven’t let the thought of divorce enter my brain since the beginning of February 2017 (the very beginning of my transformation), and I don’t see it returning. You see, we still have all the same disagreements, but my composure is quiet and still and I’m at peace with disagreeing. I don’t question my husband’s love for me anymore. Because I can really listen I have seen the many ways he shows me his love, and always has been.
“You have to love yourself first, before you can expect others to do it for you.”
This article is not meant to glorify the Catholic Church, it was God who saved me and my marriage. It was the power of prayer. Though I had hoped my prayer would change someone other than myself, I was the only person transformed. My actions after that inevitably changed the people around me, hopefully for the better, but I did exactly as my husband kept telling me during our arguments years before. I began loving myself and once others saw that, they (my husband specifically and probably even my kids) were finally allowed into my life to live with and love me for who I am.
That is an incredible amount of weight off my shoulders.
I encourage you to look deeply into your own faith, and find the answers you are searching for or maybe find some you really didn’t want to know because they’re much harder to hear. Now Pray. Pray every day, multiple times a day. The results may indeed be lifesaving.