The Un-Charming Prince – “I Kissed the Frog”

Someone who I discussed these recent posts with identified with what I have written and she had a cute way of describing the situation. She said, “I kissed the frog, and he’s STILL a frog!” This is the disappointment many young wives and husbands have about their spouse.

Someone else put it this way. When a man marries a woman he doesn’t want her to change, but she does. When a woman marries a man she wants him to change, but he doesn’t. Either way, both husband and wife find themselves living with a reality that is not their ideal.

One of the traps in the process of marriage is that both the guy and the gal are transformed from one status to another. As boyfriend and girlfriend they live in the reality of being single and full of hope. However, when they become ‘man and wife’ they are both brought through from single-hood to a new personal status of husband or wife. It is almost as if in internal switch is then triggered to readjust them to this new status. Whatever their factory settings are for ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ is what they now being to operate by. So the sweet little ‘girl’ is a ‘girl’ no more. The hopeful boy is a boy no longer. They both switch into the settings which they have been programming since their child-hood, most strongly from the example of their parents and their own responses to that example.

It should never be a surprise that both the bride and groom will change their behaviour once married. So this demands two effective processes at work, for ideal results. Firstly, we should each be aware of our humanity and need to become better people. The most ideal role-model for us all is Jesus Christ and we all need to become more like him, no matter what our religious persuasion. There is no-one in all of human history who is a more worthy example to us all. Each of us should be committed to changing to be more like Jesus all the time. So, when we discover that our internal, automatic settings cause us to behave less like him we should be quick to address that.

The other effective process is for the people affected, especially the spouse, to offer grace and forgiveness to the person who proves to be less lovely than was hoped. An important reason for this grace response is that God will treat us the way we treat others. If we are unforgiving and if we despise our spouse for not being what we want, we are inviting God to refuse to forgive us and to despise who we are. Since we are all imperfect it is very dangerous to engage in despisement of others who are also imperfect.

I counsel couples who are planning to wed, to realise that they may both change in the months following the wedding – if not even in the first week. They both need to be sensitive to this process and to see that they bring themselves to God so that God can teach and heal them, perfecting who they are. They both need to be ready to love and forgive each other, even when the frog stays a frog, or the princess proves to be unworthy of that role.

For those who have chosen to make Jesus Christ their role model there should be no Un-Charming Princes and no tainted Cinderella’s. That is, of course, unless they are still a ‘work in progress’. And I guess, we are all works in progress, eh?

This post is part of a series on the Un-Charming Prince:

http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince-thats-me
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/i-kissed-the-frog
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince-forgiven

Un-Charming Prince – Forgiven

This is yet another instalment in the investigation of how to deal with the ugly reality most marriages confront, of the husband or wife not being what we want them to be. Susan and I have both experienced this in our marriage and I have spoken to many men and women who have their own story to tell of this phenomenon. At some point in most relationships we come to realise that the other person is less than we hoped and thought them to be. They may prove to have qualities far below what we expected.

I believe that the most powerful Repair Mechanism in marriage is forgiveness. So let me tell you about my own experience of having to forgive Susan. When she proved to be a Tainted Cinderella I struggled, but eventually resolved the situation by applying forgiveness. I think this experience will be instructive and helpful.

In the early years of my marriage to Susan, which took place almost 35 years ago, I was surprised to find that she was not the ideal wife I had expected. I did not realise I had specific expectations until they were not fulfilled. I simply thought that Susan would have the same ideas of marriage as me and would naturally do the things I thought she would. I was mistaken. Susan had her own ideas and her own determination to be and do what she thought was best. When I suggested she do things my way or fit in with my expectations she showed that she had no inclination to do so. She could tell me why her ideas were better and why mine should be rejected.

I don’t recall the detail of a lot of this now; since it was three decades ago and we have worked through many things since then. I do know that I found myself so bewildered and hurt by what Susan turned out to be that I would cry silent tears into my pillow. One day at church my pastor prophesied as he prayed for me and he said, on the Lord’s behalf, “I know the tears you shed at night”. That was an amazing prophetic revelation. I had told no-one of my situation and inner pain. I feared for a while that Susan would ask me about the tears. I didn’t want to tell her that she made me cry.

The problem was resolved very simply. I finally realised that I was despising Susan for being ‘Susan’. OK, she wasn’t the person I thought she was. She wasn’t the person I thought I was marrying. But I did marry Susan. Susan was my bride. I was rejecting and despising her for being ‘Susan’, because I wanted her to be someone else. I wanted a warm and devoted wife whose whole focus was to please me. I even coined the term, ‘Country Kitchen Mum’, to describe the idea of a loving woman who made you feel special and who made you the focus of her life. Susan was not a Country Kitchen Mum.

I finally came to the place, without me ever discussing it with Susan, of forgiving her for being ‘Susan’. I told God that I forgave Susan for not being the woman I wanted her to be. I committed myself to be Susan’s husband, to love her unconditionally, even though she was not the bride I thought I was marrying. I guess I felt a bit like Jacob must have felt being married off to a different person to the one he thought he was marrying.

Once I forgave Susan for being Susan something wonderful happened in my heart. It seemed that my fantasy ideas about the ideal wife I wanted Susan to be just evaporated and all the disappointment and hurt feelings I felt evaporated with them. I found myself on a journey of discovery, to build a very real relationship with a very real person; my wife Susan. At first I had been building a fantasy relationship with a person who did not exist. My season of struggle with the Tainted Cinderella was a vital step toward removing the fantasy notions.

Please note that it is possible for the dream to die and for bitterness and resentment to grow instead. If I had not forgiven Susan for being Susan I could have spent the rest of my life resenting Susan for being Susan. So the journey from the Honeymoon Phase to the Happy Reality Phase requires God’s grace, not just realisation. Forgiveness is the very powerful Repair Mechanism in marriage. Never hold back from using it. And the internal transformation you can enjoy will often surprise you.

This is part of a series of posts on the theme of the Un-Charming Prince:

http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince-thats-me
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/i-kissed-the-frog
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince-forgiven

Sovereignty Attacked

Each of us has a remarkable privilege of presenting ourselves before God, independent of the demands and tyranny of our peers or oppressors. Yet this wonderful privilege is attacked and attempts are made to deny us our sovereignty, at many stages in our life. This first commentary on how our sovereignty is under attack may well be expanded on in future posts, but at this point I want to simply draw your attention to the fact that there are various forces which oppose your divinely bequeathed right to personal sovereignty.

Since we are created by God and the rights we have come from God it is logical that the first enemy to any such privilege given us by God would be from the principal evil spirit, who we know as the devil. The devil is a created angel who rebelled against God and came under God’s judgement. His activities since then have been to attack those things which God has created, especially humankind.

The devil attacks our sovereignty in a number of ways. We know from the records of his influence over mankind that he seeks to prompt people to use their sovereignty in acts of rebellion against God. This results in them coming under God’s judgement instead of God’s blessing. Temptation and deception are two key strategies used by the devil.

Another strategy is to get people to hand over their personal sovereignty to the devil. Strictly speaking it is not possible to do so, but the devil has a couple of devices which work in this direction. When a person submits to some kind of inappropriate attitude or behaviour that person becomes a slave to that thing. For example, when a person gives in to anger, they become an angry person, enslaved to angry responses. When a person gives in to lust they become a lustful person, enslaved by lustful thoughts. This does not strictly take their sovereignty from them, but it imprisons their soul and seems to them as if they have lost sovereignty. If the person was to repent and cry out to God for deliverance they still have the right to do so. They may still call upon God, as a sovereign creation, and find God’s help.

The other way of getting people to hand over their personal sovereignty comes in the form of a contract with the devil. The ancient German folktale character, Faust, is a classic case of someone who made a deal with the devil. In recent times youth attending rock concerts have been encouraged to sign themselves to the devil, in their own blood. The act of making such a commitment is a major compromise of a person’s will and results in a tremendous inner sense of slavery. While the person’s personal sovereignty is, in reality, intact, the insistent claim upon them by the devil can seem irrevocable. I have heard testimony of people who have sought Christian help to break such contracts and who have become free from the tyranny of the devil’s claim.

So, temptation, deception and intimidation are typical methods of compromising personal sovereignty. While these methods are used by the devil, they are also employed by other people who wish to assert their will over others and to deny people their rightful freedom. The carrot and the stick, used by governments and other social structures to direct people’s wills, are expressions of temptation and intimidation. Propaganda, indoctrination and deception are also widely used by regimes intent on controlling the masses. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Dr Goebbels implemented the Big Lie theory, that the bigger the lie the more likely people are to believe it.

Fear is another tool for making people give up personal sovereignty. Fear could relate to simple avoidance of rejection by others, such as social pressure to conform in order to be accepted. Or it could relate to the immediate threat of reprisal, death or torture if compliance is not given. Totalitarian regimes often resort to abductions, murders, genocide and other atrocities to instil fear and compliance in the community.

At a more personal level, there are those who seek to enslave others, including their family, employees or people in their care. Manipulation and control may involve just one subject, such as a parent manipulating their child, or a wife manipulating her husband. In such cases the manipulator seeks to turn another person into their slave, at least within certain behaviour patterns, and so resorts to various means of control to get the other to give up their sovereignty. A similar condition is that of domination, where an assertive person will project their personality over others, simply to indulge their own pride and self-centredness. The right to personal sovereignty of those around them is impacted by their domination.

In each of the cases I have outlined, our personal right to come into God’s presence and make appeal directly to Him, remains intact. We may be in physical danger if we do so, but we have not lost the divine right to do so. This is the Divine Right of Everyone! No religious or political domination, nor sin or deal with the devil, can take from us our right to cry out to God and present ourselves before Him.

Un-Charming Prince – That’s Me!

Most husbands and wives come to the sad realisation that their spouse is less than they hoped they would be.

Just a few weeks ago I saw a young bride shaking her head toward her loud-mouth husband who was obviously performing below what she had hoped and expected. I have worked with men who have, similarly, shared how their wife has not been the person they thought she was. I have talked with men and women whose parents and friends tried to warn them about the person they were marrying, but they would not listen.

Eventually, even the giddiest emotional ride or the most determined intention to see only delight in our spouse must yield to the reality that the spouse is made of the same mud as the rest of us. We are each human and therefore imbued with weaknesses and limitations that only the most disciplined and blessed have moved past.

Susan and Me

My Susan made a number of assumptions about me that proved to be disappointments for her. She wrongly assumed that I, being the son of a builder, would be a good handyman, like her dad. My failure to reach this expectation was a sore point for her for years. She bought me handyman books for Christmas, chided me and even went off to do a handyman course of her own in frustration.

Another sore point for Susan was that I was all talk and no action. I was a wonderful dreamer, but not a person who knew how to bring reality to the very things I could conceive. This was more than a frustration for her, as it caused her pain that our economic circumstances could be so much better if I only pursued just one of my dreams.

At the same time I had my own suite of disappointments with Susan. She was more angry and demanding than I ever expected. She also became focused on things important to her and I had to compete for her time and attention. We ended up in more of a battle of wills than I ever expected.

So, I was an Un-Charming Prince and Susan was a Tainted Cinderella. This kind of situation is not uncommon. I suspect it is almost universal. And it is part of the process of the maturation of a relationship, where people learn to love and accept each other, not because the other is ideal or perfect, but in spite of the fact that the other is neither ideal nor perfect.

Needed Keys

The Keys to working through the ugly realisation stage in a relationship are to apply forgiveness and to commit to love the other unconditionally.

I refer to ‘forgiveness’ as the Repair Mechanism for marriage. However, it may also be valuable to put on the table the issues that are challenging each other. This is a tough thing to do without speaking from hurt feelings, desire to change the other, manipulation or the like. Nonetheless it can be very powerful, if done with a good heart.

If you are facing the ugly realities of an Un-Charming Prince or a Tainted Cinderella seek to apply forgiveness, grace and unconditional love. Once you have done that successfully you can look at bringing problems into open discussion, if you need to.

Coming Up

In a future post I will tell you about my own process of dealing with the hurt feelings I had from Susan, when I realised she was not all I expected her to be. It was vital for my own freedom and the development of our relationship. Look for a future post called ‘Un-Charming Prince – Forgiven’.

This post is part of a series on the Un-Charming Prince:

http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince-thats-me
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/i-kissed-the-frog
http://chrisfieldblog.com/topical/un-charming-prince-forgiven