I’m standing bedside, setting my alarm, when my husband comes up behind and places his hands on my waist.
“Hold on, please.” I jerk away and continue setting my alarm.
He walks to the other side of the bed, turns out the light, lies down and ... silence.
I sigh, shake my head, roll my eyes in the dark, and lie down beside him. The room is silent; the only noise is the humming of our fan. All is calm in the physical world, but inside our hearts and minds, storms are brewing.
I know what I should do. What I should do is reach over, touch my husband, apologize for shunning his advance, and initiate intimacy. I feel the Holy Spirit prodding, but my ego shoves harder.
My ego is reminding me, “You’ve had a long, hard day with the kids, his kids, and you deserve to sleep. You are the one who will be getting up with the baby in a couple hours, not him, why should you have to do everything?”
I feel a storm approaching. I begin the toxic habit of replaying in my mind the times I think my husband has hurt me, let me down, disappointed me; all this causing my ego and I to agree even more: Why should I have to sacrifice my sleep for him? What’s in it for me? Why does he even deserve my physical affection? Better yet, don’t I deserve a break?
Just as I begin to feel justified enough in my defiance to fall asleep, the Holy Spirit chimes back in, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”
Although I’m not willing to be fully obedient, I’m at least willing to give this command some attention, or maybe I just want an excuse to talk.
“Are you mad at me?” I break the silence. What a dumb question. Of course he is mad at me, but this sets the ball in motion.
His response comes so swiftly that it’s evident I barely beat him to speaking first.
“Why don’t you love me like you used to?”
Pain shoots through my body; a golf-ball size pit forms in my throat. Once again, I know how I should respond. I should tell him that I love him more than anything, explain how sorry I am if that’s not coming across clearly, hug him tight, and kiss him longer than ever. I should recognize the pain in his question and I should try to alleviate it. I should...
But I don’t.
“How could you not think I love you?!?” I snap back, “My entire life revolves around sacrificing for you and these kids. I left my dream career, I spend my whole day cleaning and cooking and making this house a place you will want to come home to, and I always make sure we don’t go longer than a couple days without, well, ‘you know.’ All I DO is show you that I love you!!”
Oh really? Then why won’t you show him now? Ugh, the Holy Spirit just won’t leave me alone.
“Oh, I know,” he explains, “you DO everything perfect. You accomplish everything on the daily “Good-Wife-Checklist,” but I don’t feel like you look at me the same way you used to...”
I say nothing. I’m too busy thinking.
“You’re right,” he starts backing down, probably due in part to mere tiredness, “I guess we just communicate our love differently. I will work on not getting so upset with you. You do a lot for me and I know you love me very much.”
My flesh feels success but my spirit aches.
Sometimes, often times, in a marriage, we allow little drops of resentment to rain into our heart’s buckets. We carry these buckets around with us, trying not to spill them, struggling to keep them balanced as we run errands, go to work, eat dinner, and watch television. Yet, despite our best efforts, they get tipped, and the water falls out. Sometimes just a dribble, a sarcastic remark, a murmur under our breath, and other times the entire bucket turns on its side, the water gushes out, and falls from the inner corners of our eyes.
I lay my head on his chest and let the tears silently fall. He drifts off, but I’m wide awake – angry. Not with him, but with myself.
“Why can’t I just let go, Lord? Why am I still holding on to all this control and pride? Why would I rebuff the advances of a man who has vowed his heart to me forever?” I pray.
Why is it that, as wives, we would rather scrub the mildew from the tubs, spend hours cooking a meal, or planning a party for our husbands, than simply say yes to his wooing? After all, isn’t physical intimacy the main attribute which separates the marriage union from all other relationships?
Here I am, the woman with the “gratitude wall” in her home, the “gratitude journal” in her purse, and the blog that’s even titled “Eucharistero,” literally meaning “to give thanks,” and I just spewed ingratitude and entitlement all over the best earthly gift God has ever given me: my husband.
Where did it come from? In the midst of all my gratitude reading, thankfulness teaching, and Eucharistero blogging, how did I allow myself to overlook gratefulness for my own husband, even to the point of denying him my love when he gestures for it? Was he becoming so familiar that he was losing his “specialness” in my eyes?
I am reminded of a quote I recently read that says, “Familiarity breeds boredom only to the blind.” Am I blind? Blind to what a gift my husband is, blind to what a great opportunity the Lord is giving me to honor him with my affection, blind to the joy of unselfish, Christ-like, marital intimacy.
I lie there on his bare chest, eyelids shut, heart-lids opens.
I run my hand across his torso, it’s hairy, and I’ve always liked that. I slip my hand into his, it’s calloused and rough, and I like that. I hear his heart beat and I know it beats for the Lord, for me, for our children, and I love that.
What a gift he is. What a gift it is to honor him with my love, however he wants it – whenever he wants it. Whether it is taking care of his children, cooking his meals, cleaning his clothes, listening to him when he speaks, laughing at his jokes, or stopping everything that I am doing, to let him kiss me, it is all a gift from God. It’s all grace. This revelation makes me smile.
I can’t help but whisper aloud, “Thank you, Lord,” as I fall asleep in the arms of my gift.
If we want a fulfilling, joyful life, then every day we must retrain our brains to see the world through a lens of gratitude, remembering that all is grace, and that even Christ our King didn’t come to be served, but to serve.