I went into my first marriage as a young, insecure nineteen-year-old expecting my husband to love me, fulfill all my desires and complete me as a woman. I was in for a painful discovery that he expected the same from me. I am now in my second marriage and I learned some powerful life changing concepts from my first marriage.
When the policeman stood at my door 2 weeks before Christmas in 1994 to tell me my husband died suddenly while he was playing basketball; I felt like my life had also ended. My future seemed endless and meaningless and when I read in the bible that: “I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy” (Jeremiah 31:3), it almost irked me. Well, that’s fine for somebody else, I thought, but I can’t ever imagine feeling joy again.
Looking back I also realize that through our deepest pain, we learn how to have a different happiness…called “Joy”. You see there is a difference. In my first marriage my happiness depended on how my husband treated me. But through the pain that I have experienced, and now that I am in my second marriage, I have learned one of life’s greatest lessons: “Only God can fulfill me and make me joyful.” Happiness depends on my circumstances, but joy comes from the spirit of God. So now that I am in my second marriage, here are some of powerful and life changing lessons I have learned:
1. I can’t “expect” my husband to make me happy. None of us are wise or strong enough to meet each other’s needs. Most of us are broken people looking for each other to completely love us and fulfill those empty places in our soul. Only God can provide that kind of love. Our spouses cannot possibly be all things to we need for our personal development, and emotional and spiritual health. Our spouses are not the “savior of our soul”. If you and I are not a happy person, nothing in this world will make us happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness.
2. Let go of resentment…immediately. We become resentful when we have “unfulfilled expectations” of things we want our spouses to do to make us feel loved, validated, accepted and beautiful. It’s quite easy to keep smiling and let the toxic bile of resentment build in our soul. Yet we have to be aware that resentment is the #1 destroyer of relationships. Immediately we have to confront our own heart with the situation and decide if we are going to let the hurt go, or if we are going to confront it. More detail on how to handle this complicated and painful emotion, is found in my book SAND TO PEARLS: Making Bold Choices to Enrich Your Life (Chapter 5 – Resentment or Sweet Reasonableness).
3. Men need respect. This is a huge part of being in a loving and successful marriage. I have written about this before in many of my blogs because it is so important. Yet I know it is controversial because many women feel that their husbands don’t deserve respect. But, for men, knowing they are receiving your respect is even more meaningful and powerful than sex, or knowing they are loved. When we know it is so crucial; we have to orchestrate our actions to give our husbands the respect they need. Women need to feel loved, and it is the man’s responsibility to do that for his wife.
4. Create Story. (This is explained in detail on my blog “Create a Story”). Our marriage is like a book, if the book becomes boring, we put it down. We must create adventure, fun, laughter and stories in our marriage to keep it fresh, and interesting enough to want to be a part of it. We also need to keep ourselves interesting by staying fit, healthy, reading and personal growth. That doesn’t mean when life gets tough and uninteresting we walk away. Absolutely NO! It just means that we all want to enjoy life, and what better place to enjoy it than in the most beautiful union on this earth: marriage.
5. Praying together. This may be an awkward suggestion for many of you, but my second marriage has remained authentic, interesting, powerful and loving because of the power of prayer in our lives. There are so many struggles, pain and challenges in this life that we simply don’t know what to do with. So we go to a higher power: God. For the past fourteen Jack and I get up each morning to meet for time of reading the bible together and the spending time in prayer. I personally believe this has been the most beautiful and powerful aspect of our marriage.
Jack and I both believe that everything God makes is very good. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV). We both believe that, when we allow God to teach us how to have a good marriage, we will find the JOY we are looking for.
You will find more information on second marriages in Chapter 6 in my book SAND TO PEARLS: Making Bold Choices to Enrich Your Life.