Growing up, I often dreamed about what it would look like to be a wife. I was the little girl who loved to play princess and the story always ended with a wedding. As I grew older, I actually spent time trying to learn what a good wife looked like and praying to be that some day. I remember doing a study of the Proverbs 31 woman when I was just a teen and trying to make mental notes of how to do it “right”. When I got married the first time, I tried so hard to be a good wife. I was a different person back then: dependent, quiet, meek, trusting. I was not a perfect wife (whatever that even is), but it was a constant goal nonetheless. With the end of that marriage came feelings of failure in relation to my lifelong goal of being a good wife.
I am now a newlywed again. I have another chance to be a “good wife”. Silly me, I thought it would be easy this time. I have a caring man, a beautiful family and a marriage firmly grounded in Christ. Somehow I had subconsciously accepted the lie that circumstances dictate the ability to have a good marriage. Truth: It’s never easy! I am still an imperfect human being, married to an imperfect human being, and we are constantly surrounded by a bunch of imperfect little human beings.
Before entering this marriage, I spent a few years as a single mom. In that time, I learned how to be more independent, which is something I was never great at before that season of life. The only One I needed to consult about my decisions was God (which I did a lot of because I didn’t trust myself to make even the smallest of decisions). I raised my kids with the methods I thought were best. I cooked the food I thought was best, made financial decisions I thought were best, developed routines and future plans and traditions. I took time to try to learn who I was and some would say I “found my voice” in this time. I learned how to speak out my thoughts and opinions. I learned how to be Ashley.
All that sounds wonderful, and it many ways it is, but it means I entered this new marriage as someone almost unrecognizable to me as a wife. I had no idea how attached to my ways I had become. It is new to me to feel so passionately about things and to want my own way. Sometimes I will find myself three sentences into my argument for why something should go a certain way and only then realize that I even cared. I feel as though I learned how to be independent when it was necessary, but independence and marriage don’t mix.
In the four months since David and I married, I have had moments of being too hard on myself. I felt like the wrong man got a better version of me-an agreeable, positive, patient, submissive version. I now know that was the enemy speaking to my heart. Satan is a liar and a jerk. He knows my weakness is self-condemnation and he knows how to bring me to that place with ease. He wants me to live there, but I will not. The truth about that earlier version of me was that I was young, inexperienced and lacking in wisdom. God has done a lot in me since then and it is not truth that I am a worse version of myself. What is true is that I am still learning and always will be learning how to be the best version of me. “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 And that is ok…as long as I don’t settle to stay where I am. It is a constant journey to seek the Lord in how to love my husband well and put him and our children before myself. This goes for the man I love as well. Expecting perfection from him is not fair. We are both works in progress.
Why am I writing all of this? When I started this blog, I promised to be transparent. I don’t want the world to look at this family and see a false picture of perfection. In this family there is beauty, and there is chaos. There is a fairy tale, and there is real life. We have our things just like you have your things. This is one of my things I am working through, praying through, seeking through. For all of us who are spouses or may be spouses one day or may be spouses again one day, I pray that we may be able to see the difference between:
- Seeking the right way and seeking our OWN way.
- Speaking in anger and speaking in love.
- What really matters and what is just pride.
- What is important and what is not.
- What is necessary and what is unrealistic expectations.
- Holding on to something that is important and just plain stubbornness.
- The enemy and the person we married.
Even in the most beautiful of stories, being the spouse you wanted to be doesn’t just come naturally. It is deliberate. We did a time capsule on the day we got married and filled it with memories from us and guests at our wedding to be opened on the day of our 5th Anniversary. It sits displayed in our bedroom filled with all of its happy thoughts, prayers and well wishes. While it is surrounded by wedding pretties which can sometimes cause a mirage of perfection, the front of it bears an important reminder: Happily Ever After is not a fairy tale – It’s a choice.
A fellow imperfect human being learning how to love her husband well <3