I can’t explain how blessed I feel this very moment. My marriage is so glorious. We are so happy I could scream. I take for granted that half of the marriages out there end in divorce. So many people just live together and they feel miles apart in their hearts. I know that feeling. My marriage was not always a bed of roses. It took years of making choices. In life, everything is a choice. I chose to be his best friend even when he was not friendly. In the beginning I didn’t like him much at all. I was not cooperative. He was insensitive. I felt overlooked and ignored. He was quiet when I wanted to talk. He was practical and I was the dreamer. He did not back my visions. He never had much to say. Even if I tried to look nice, he never told me I was beautiful. I stopped trying and took on the look of an old frump for years and he never said much about that either. I felt like our marriage was a sea of nothingness, like vast lonely wilderness. Now we walk hand in hand, co-heirs to LIFE so filled with adventure. True Joy is wanting what you have. I want my husband with all my heart. It was worth fighting for each and every time.
You have heard the verse,
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”
Song of Solomon 2:15
If you have ever had a garden you will find pests that come in and eat or destroy all that you worked hard to grow. If there is one lurking about, it does not take long for this creature to do some damage. He must be caught and kept out. In marriage, as the wife, we are called the keeper. We are the keepers of the home. We have the power to keep the home a place of peace and joy or to tear it down with our own hands. If our heart is a garden and a bad thought a fox, we must do well in keeping these foxes from spoiling the fruits we could have in our marriage. It is our job to catch the foxes trap them, taking every thought captive, and getting rid of them. Some foxes will sneak in and creep up even in the best of circumstances. You have to be a good KEEPER, and Keep a good eye on the precious fruit nothing can creep in to steal it.
How did I get from allowing the bad thoughts and circumstances of my marriage that was destroying my peace, to this place of wedded bliss?
I will share my secret.
It is by choice that I found peace. Did my husband change? No. He is still the same quiet man he always was. I changed my attitude over the years and began to look for things that were amazing about him. No ‘one person‘ is all bad. My husband is one of the kindest people I know. I used to see the bad because I was looking for it strangely enough, how sad. Now I find it hard to see anything but good. It took practice. Lots of practice in evaluation. I had to take inventory each time a bad thought arose. I have two stories to share with you…
The first story is set in Tennessee about 12 years ago. Mark and I were standing on the future garden plot, the very place we filmed our first Homesteading for Beginners DVD! I told him that this ground will teach the world how to feed their families. He looked at me like I was half crazy because he had no idea where I was going with that thought. “I want to make videos showing people how to homestead!” Perplexed and quite cynical, he replied, “That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard of in my entire life! We do not know anything about homesteading. No. Not happening.” Not wanting to listen to reason, I said with a cheerful countenance, “That is the beauty of it! We can film everything as we are learning and if we succeed we can show people that it is for ANYONE. I mean, we were city slickers. If we can do this, anyone can!“ He rolled his eyes and kept using his spade to break paths in the ground for seed.
We went on to make so many more DVDs. Do you think he ever wanted to be filmed? No! He hated every moment of it even though he was great on the camera. I had moments of defeat when I had to literally sneak around the corners to film him when he was not in the mood for filming because he was doing a little thing that HAD to be on the video in order for the video to make sense. There were moments when he would snarl at me and say, “Don’t film me!” Other times he would go along with it. The truth is that it was a struggle. I nearly threw the camera down on the concrete a couple times and gave up completely. Most of the filming was on tripod or when I filmed the children helping. It wasn’t until after people started watching the videos, ordering them by the thousands, and after we started getting letters from our happy customers that they LOVE the videos, that he did start to value the project. Most women would have cried and been really hurt over this. I knew that he was a great man of integrity. I knew his heart. He does not even want to open his mouth unless he can say something profitable to the conversation. He won’t run up in front of a crowd to make his points clear because he really does not want any extra glory or attention. He won’t do a job unless he knows he can do it to perfection. That is a great quality. He just couldn’t see putting out a video unless a person is some kind of expert on a topic. The whole concept to him went against his grain of integrity.
He is happy now that we did our Homesteading videos and that they were a success all over the world. We kept our marriage because I did not let his lack of enthusiasm and negativity be the little fox that spoiled the vine.
But wait, I am not done!
I have a story from just recently. A couple years ago we had moved into an old barn and Mark made it so nice. I never had kitchen counter tops. It was really difficult to work in a kitchen without proper cabinets and counter tops. There were times when I would nag him about it and complain that he promised me that we could move out of the pretty white home and he would have the barn completed. I had to live through years of half done homes and construction zones. Early in the marriage, that was one of the foxes that tore down many vines and ate many tender grapes that could have made life sweeter. I hated it. There was dust everywhere, unfinished holes in the floor where my toddlers had to be trained not to fall into. It was a danger ZONE! He did not have time or money to fix it all up for me, the princess who wanted to have everything perfect. Yes, I was a bit unthankful at times. I learned to put stuff over the holes and work around the mess. The other alternative was to cry and be mad all the time. I was a spoiled brat and wanted my way. He had to put up with my ungrateful attitude.
Back to the old barn house…I spent a lot of time designing the most unique cabinets that would fit in our kitchen perfectly. The style was going to be the next latest fad. Everyone, in my mind, was going to be talking about them and all the rich would want to have these type of cabinets in their kitchens. He hated the idea of them, but because he loves me so, he did build them eventually. He reclaimed all the wood off the old farm and used this beautiful wood for each cabinet. Each piece would fit together with the same countertop yet everyone of the cupboards would look like a separate piece of furniture. It was a grand idea. Mark is a man of order and to see things like this was to cobble something together in his mind. The cabinets were sitting in storage all this time since he never had a chance to install them. I never did get to see them in all their glory or take photos to show the world this really amazing work of art. We sold the farm and the barn went with it.
Just the other day as we were planning the kitchen remodel at this new home, I asked him about those gorgeous cabinets he made for me and if we could incorporate them in the design somehow. “I gave them away.” I was shocked. I was angry. I could not believe he would do this. He said, “I knew you would never part with them on your own, so I just gave them away. I knew you would be mad. I purposely did not even bother to ask for your permission.” I could feel a hard lump in my stomach. How could he give my art away?!?!? They were my vision for a homestead kitchen. My heart sank. It seemed so thoughtless and cruel.
I had to put into practice that secret that has helped me in the past before. The secret to a happy marriage, happy life, and the source of my joy, contentment, and ultimate peace is within one action. It is in one decision. That decision takes careful thought and introspection. I was at a crossroads. Many marriage split over stuff like this. I could have chosen to be bitter with him, unthankful for all that he has had to put up with from me through the years—my manipulations, my ungrateful attitude, my many fits and unseemly behavior that he so patiently endured over the years, all the hateful looks I threw in his direction when I did not get my way, and even when I threatened to leave him at times. I was no picnic, folks. I was no walk in the park. I was one of his biggest blessings, but strongest challenges. I only became a blessing to him by choosing to be one.
The secret is to be thankful.
When you sit there and have this mountain of pain and hurt staring you right between the eyes, you have to stop and evaluate it. To make a wise decision, you must figure out how tall the mountain is and if it is worth the effort to allow it to define your next move. In marriage, you have to evaluate these things. Take inventory. Is it really that bad? When other women have to bury their husbands, can I see past this thing that is hurtful? When other men are running around with other women while my husband only has eyes for me, can I forgive him on this one thing? When other fathers are molesting their children, my husband is kind, gentle, and trustworthy with our children, so maybe this thing isn’t so bad after all? He works hard to provide. We do not live in fear. You have to train yourself to put things into perspective BEFORE you make this choice to forgive and let go.
I made the choice to forgive and not let this small matter rob me of such a joyful marriage to my best friend. I could have made a different choice. The results would have left me feeling angry, bitter, confused, and depressed. That path would have been sad. I would not be enjoying the spring time weather going for walks and appreciating the fellowship my husband and I have together. I found out later that he actually gave the cabinets to a missionary. How wonderful. What a great guy!
To have a good marriage, it is hard work. It is a series of choices. I hope this encourages you to make some well thought out choices that lead to forgiveness, peace and joy in your marriage.
I would love to hear from you. If you like this post, please let me know by commenting or sharing the post with others. You never know how far reaching this could be. So many people are hurting and they do not realize that they could be free from their hurt if only they could look around, take things into proper perspective, and count their blessings. God bless you!