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

Woman of Faith

I was blessed this week by an email from one of my team sharing about her challenges as a wife. She prompted me to realise that women have a possible advantage when it comes to faith. To help you appreciate what I am perceiving let me share with you an observation out of my family teaching.

Children are required to obey their parents. The Bible reveals that this is an act of faith. Children are instructed in Colossians 3:20 to obey their parents. In the same sentence Paul points out that this is “well pleasing” to the Lord. “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” That doesn’t directly say anything about ‘faith’, except when you correlate that with Hebrews 11:6, which says that “without faith it is impossible to please God”. If children’s obedience is ‘well pleasing’ and only faith can ‘please’ God, then children’s obedience is an act of faith.

Faith kicks in when a child has to suppress their own idea of what is good for them, to comply with the requirements of their parents. Many a child has been afraid of missing out, being looked down on by others, or otherwise suffering because their parents make decisions which they would like to change. For a child to happily honour and obey his or her parents in the face of those challenges the child needs to be trusting that God has everything under control.

Similarly, everyone who is under authority must exercise that same kind of faith. This includes wives. So wives are often more in a position of conscious faith than their husbands might be. This is compounded for the men because men are more likely to be in the workforce seeing a direct correlation between their effort and their income. This can block their awareness of God’s provision, and prompt them to think of themselves as the ‘provider’. A wife who is reliant on her husband’s endeavours and the favours he bestows on her must turn to God and look to God’s grace to see her needs and wishes met. Herein is the seed-bed of the ‘woman of faith’.

A dependent wife should find it easier to be a woman of faith. It should be easy for her to take a faith posture. Note, however, that a grasping woman, who wrests control from her husband or who manipulates him to get her way, has missed the special faith posture which other women have. A grasping woman fails to be moving in faith and so fails to please God.

There are many examples of godly women who have been strong in faith, despite their vulnerability, while their husbands have found it hard to trust God. Even when a husband does well financially he can simply lift his expectations, and hoard what he has, rather than trusting God to bless him. This is not to say that all dependent wives are women of faith or that all working men are devoid of faith. But I do recognise that a woman of faith is a precious thing and that the limitation which some women struggle with is seen by others as an advantage – helping them stay reliant on God.

I’ve just remembered a time when I was the man of unbelief and needed my wife to prompt me out of my lack of faith. I will share that incident with you in a future post. I have been blessed over the years by having a woman of faith in my wife, Susan. I commend each woman, child and youth reading this to not resent their place of dependence but to see the advantage it offers them to be a person of faith.