Eileen, a married woman shares her story …about her pain, battles, victories; and also key lessons. It is a lengthy sharing…but worth reading to the end.
Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home
You‘re writing a course on marriage? The vivacious Asian woman who was sitting opposite me had a twinkle in her eye. ―There is only one key: Submit to your husband. I cocked one eyebrow with interest and waited for her to say more while her tall, handsome husband, Randy, grinned silently nearby. My night and just said, ―I don‘t want to be married anymore.‖ I half-expected Randy to do the same, and still lived in fear of his rejection. Every time we had a fight, I ended it by saying, If you don‘t like it, just leave. I wanted to feel that I was in control and reject him before he had the chance to reject me. I continually acted my worst just to prove whether he loved me unconditionally and would stick around.
For instance, I affirmed that I should make all the decisions because I made more money. I thought that since I made eight times his salary, it meant that I was at least eight times better and more important than he was. It also meant that I had the right to be the leader, and I led like a cruel dictator. If he did something I did not like, I made a point to call him ―stupid.‖ I even used to think up ways of punishing him whenever he made a mistake. If he forgot to lock the door when he left the house, I would decide that he would have to wash all the dishes for a month. No matter how kind and loyal he was, I never fully trusted him. I always expected him to leave because deep down I knew what a bad, ugly person I was, inside and out. I had been bulimic for years (vomiting food in order to remain thin) and could see my body deteriorating, but I could not quit.
Knowing my own shortcomings did not make me kind and humble. Rather, it helped me to be critical of him. I used to feel embarrassed in front of my friends about having him as my husband. I stewed that he was not funny enough or charismatic enough. Whatever he said to my friends seemed dull and uninteresting. Furthermore, I blamed him because I was so unhappy inside. I thought that as my husband, his job was to fill the big hole in my heart. When I discovered that he could not do that for me, I blamed him even more. I thought about filing for a divorce.
I was also very insecure and jealous of his relationships—even of his relationship with my daughter. Once while we were on holiday in Sydney, Australia, they made a joke together about my bad attitude. I left and walked around downtown, fuming, until 2 a.m. After coming back from our holiday, I decided to pack my things and leave my family. I was not sure what I would do after I left, I just knew that I had to leave. As I was packing, I found a Bible that someone had given me when I left my hometown. I had just thrown it in a drawer, but now I felt compelled to start reading. In the introduction of this version, it had an article about the emptiness inside. That‘s me! I thought. The article went on to say that you can go through life trying to fill the empty place with mere things, but the Lord is the only one who can fill you. I got on my knees and asked God to forgive me and to come into my heart. My bulimia had gotten so bad, after struggling with it for over twenty years, that I automatically vomited twenty minutes after each meal. When Christ entered my life, the bulimia left.
My daughter gave her life to the Lord a few months later. We were in New Zealand and were reading through Proverbs every night together. One night, she started crying really hard and said that she hated the way she was. She wanted to change. She had always been very smart and had started reading at age two. Because of her intelligence, she often looked down on others and did not have any friends. She repented of her pride and asked Jesus into her heart. Each day she has grown in the Lord. She is not only my daughter but also my sister in Christ.
I met some Finnish missionaries, who began to disciple me. When they left, I began worshipping in a small congregation. After a few months, God convicted me that I needed to apologize to my husband for the thirteen years I had tormented him. My Japanese culture is so proud that I struggled for three hours before I realized the Lord was insisting, and I had to submit to Him. I said, Randy, I am so sorry for the way I have acted toward you, from the time we met until now. I have treated you so badly. Why have you stayed married to me? I stayed because it was the right thing to do, he said matter-of-factly. Then he totally forgave me. Suddenly, my respect for him grew! I was amazed that he could so easily forgive me when I would have held on to a grudge. I began praying for his salvation.
We went to see the movie The Passion of the Christ, and I hoped that this would be the moment for Randy to receive Christ and become the man I wanted him to be. But the movie had no effect on him, which left me frustrated. Later, I fumed at God: How can I respect someone who doesn‘t even believe in You? If he‘s not going to become a Christian, just make him leave! God spoke to my heart and said, I asked you to be a good wife. Do it for Me, not for him. It would be easy to be a good wife if your husband were perfect. But what credit is that to you? Do this for Me.
So I began to practice submission and to learn more about it in the Bible. Submission was totally against my nature, so whenever my husband would ask me to do something, I would have to purposefully think of Colossians 3:23: ―Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people. I had to pretend that God Himself, rather than my husband, had just asked me. I came to realize that when you only do things for people, you will never receive enough appreciation or compensation, which leaves you bitter. When you do things for God, it does not matter if people are thankful or not.
Randy still did not come to Christ. I kept asking God about it, and one day He revealed to me the reason: I was asking, not because of love for God or love for my husband, but for my pride. I was embarrassed at church when people asked where he was. I envied other couples. Deep down, I believed that my husband should respect me enough to follow me. I had to repent of my own attitude, before the Lord would be free to work in Randy.
One day, God spoke to me about Acts 16. He told me the promise that ―you and your whole household will be saved was perfect for me. He also told me that I had not read the whole verse and that I needed to go back and read it. The whole verse says if you believe in the Lord Jesus, you and your whole household would be saved. God reminded me of the Hebrews, who were on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. God promised to take them to the Promised Land, but, in the end, only the ones who believed received that promise. I started standing on God‘s Word and thanking and praising God for Randy‘s future salvation. This was two months before Randy gave his heart to the Lord.
A few days after we moved into our new home in Bangkok, Randy threw his things around the house. I had worked so hard to put things away to make our house feel like a home. I was angry but did not say anything. I prayed and asked God to help me have peace instead of arguing with my husband. Later that day, I had total peace and was able to share with Randy. We talked about how happy we were with the way our daughter was growing into a beautiful young woman, and I asked him how he felt he contributed to her life. We reflected on the past, when our daughter used to practice dancing at home. She would beg him to watch, and he would just walk into the other room to read. He had a tough time thinking about other people, even his own wife and daughter. He promised to change, to become a better father. You‘ve promised that before, I said. It doesn‘t last, does it? He had to agree. The only way you can have a lasting change is through Jesus Christ.
I really did not expect him to want to receive Christ right then, but he did! He said, I think I need to get on my knees. He repented, thanked Christ for dying for him, and asked God to change his life. Then he started praying for our marriage and for our friends. God has been teaching me so much since then about marriage and about my wonderful husband. The first thing is that even though Randy is now a Christian, he cannot be my Jesus. I have to keep my relationship with Him strong and not expect Randy to solve all my problems or completely fulfill my need for love and significance.
Second, I have to make sure that I never compare Randy to other men. Last month, we were on vacation with another couple, and I felt jealous at the way the husband treated his wife. He rubbed her feet, bought her gifts, and was generally doting on her. I thought that if Randy were deeply committed to the Lord, he would act the same way. Later, I discovered that man had been committing adultery! Only God knows the motives of each person‘s heart, and you can never tell what is going on inside purely by someone‘s behavior.
Third, I realized that when girls are asked what kind of man they want to marry, most will say, A fireman, or a policeman, or a doctor. Not one will say, I want to marry a floor mat. They want a man to be their hero, but that is not the way we women treat them. We have to put them in the role of our hero, our leader. We have to encourage them to grow into leadership by finding the things they do well and praising them for it. Notice their efforts. Appreciate what they do.
Fourth, I saw that a man cares more about what his wife thinks than everyone else put together. I can make my husband feel valuable. He does not ask for a lot, but he needs my good opinion and respect above all. Men do not have adulterous affairs only because they want sex. It is much deeper than that. They need their wives to make them feel handsome, smart, funny, loved, and needed. If we are not doing that as wives, someone else will. It is a great temptation for a man that can be avoided.
As I began to apply God‘s principles and stopped trying to dominate, Randy began to change, too. He could not stop doing nice things for me! He wanted to come home from work early to spend time with us. His relationship with me and with our daughter has grown much stronger. God is continuing to work to change us each day to be more like Him. Each day, I pray from Psalm 139:23-24: ―Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (NASB). It has only been three years since we became a family under God, but each day I see new blessings from the Lord.