I’ve given plenty of thought…obsessive amounts of thought…to my partner’s role in the demise of my marriage but as I am learning and relearning, there is always more than one side to each story. In fact, I believe there are three sides…yours, mine and God’s (otherwise known as “the truth”).
Then within each of those three sides, there’s also my perception of each, your perception of each, and again, the truth.
So, here goes my perception of my part.
I got married too young.
I got married when I knew I shouldn’t because a) I felt the Spirit nudging, and b) others had counseled me not to.
Once married, I yelled. A lot.
I was cruel and self-serving and critical with my words. Probably daily.
I looked out for number one and tried to protect her (aka, me).
I didn’t serve enough.
I didn’t build him up enough.
I didn’t respect him. (Let me take a moment with this one. I used to argue that once I felt he deserved respect, I’d begin to respect him. I now believe that there are two kinds, or levels, of respect. There is earned respect and there is role-expected respect. For instance, I might not respect President Such-&-Such, but if he walked into the room, you’d better believe I’d stand and probably clap just because of his role. So, if for nothing else, I withheld role-expected respect.)
I prayed for him and I prayed for us, but I didn’t do so enough.
Now things take a slightly different turn. The above list, I knew I was messing up all the time. The list that follows are things that I didn’t know how to do any differently until it was too late. These things used to not feel like things I was doing wrong.
Boundaries. I had no boundaries. I was needy, beyond needy (“a black hole of need” to quote my pastor), and so I would take any and all attention. I even stirred things up into arguments because yucky attention was better than no attention.
Accountability. Things were going on that were outright sinful and wrong. I didn’t call him on it. I used to think that wasn’t my job but the job of another man. I now realize that is part of a partner’s job…that’s what a help-mate should do. Gently of course.
Help. I asked for help. A ton. But then when I didn’t get it, I stopped. I crawled back into my shell and tried to keep wading through. And I say this even though we went to nine counselors and met with other couples and I read a bunch of marriage books. I never spoke the full truth until four months before we ended up separating. And when I did, when I literally laid our marriage out on the table at a local diner for another couple from church, I said what I should have said ten years before, “I’m not saying I’m sinless. But I’m saying this is wrong, and I can’t do this anymore, and I am begging you to help me.”
There’s more, I’m sure. Because remember, this is just my perception of my part in it all. There is still my soon-to-be ex-spouse’s, and more importantly, there’s how God sees me in all of this.
So there you have it, in case I ever gave the impression that I thought I was the victim in a hit-and-run marriage, I wasn’t. I was a full participant in our dysfunction.
But I’m beyond grateful to say that there’s hope now, that healing is coming, that I sense joy so much more than I have in years and years. I messed up, absolutely. But then there’s Jesus to clean me up and stand me up on my feet again. And he is. If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.