Did I Marry a Jerk?

Shawn’s* story:

When I got married I had this idea of what my husband was going to be like. I imagined someone gracious and talkative when I introduced him to friends and family. I imagined everyone recognizing how wonderful he was. I would beam when I introduced him to friends. A beam that would fade as I witnessed how people strained to talk to him while he just stood there, arms crossed, barely uttering an audible response. He was definitely not engaging with those around him; in fact, he didn’t even seem to try.  I thought, “Oh no, did I marry a jerk? What will people think? I was an extrovert who married an introvert. Did I just commit social suicide?”  I loved my husband deeply and I decided to chalk his attitude up to a “hardened heart.”

I always prayed for my husband but now it was time to pray for his heart to be softened. Arguing with him about his attitude didn’t change him and only frustrated me. I noticed how every little thing he did wrong started to bother me. For example, we had countless spats in the car when I became frustrated with his driving. His driving was not bad; I just didn’t like the attitude he had when someone cut him off.  When I started nitpicking my spouse it was like a pebble that hits my windshield. It may start off as a barely noticeable knick in the glass but as times goes on that little knick becomes a huge crack creeping across the entire windshield. As I focus on the knick it gets bigger and spreads, eventually becoming the only thing I see.

I started to pray for my husband’s heart attitude. In addition, I invited several women in my neighborhood to also come pray for their husbands. Each Friday morning we enjoyed coffee and pastries while reading through Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. We also recited together her companion book of prayers. All of the women were grateful for the mornings and reiterated the change in their own hearts. One of the ladies mentioned later how our prayer time touched her marriage in life-changing ways as her perspective shifted.

My perspective also shifted and when God showed up it wasn’t how I imagined. In God’s perfect way, instead of changing my husband, he changed me. He altered my focus. I no longer fixated on the crack in the windshield; rather my whole vision became clear and I enjoyed the ride. I learned so many wonderful things about my husband. For instance, he actually enjoys entertaining. We often find ourselves hosting small dinner gatherings as well as large parties with more than sixty guests. Though he may be introverted he is actually very intentional, kind and loyal to friends. I have learned how to be gracious and generous from his lead. I recently asked him about my prayers for him during that time and he said, “The fact that you didn’t nag or pester me to change, but instead chose to love me in spite of my faults or stubborn nature, made me more open to change…”

Instead of occupying my thoughts with what he wasn’t doing right, I started being intentional about truly loving him. I now focus on ways in which I can love him how he most feels loved.  Whether it be taking care of our son so he can work out and teach classes or encouraging him to go on a week-long mountain biking trip, I love to help him live out his passions. God gave me a heart for building him up rather than tearing him down; in that effort I experience freedom and a happy husband. Consequently, the love I receive from my him in return is ten-fold, which only perpetuates the cycle of loving him even more.

I am happy to say we are celebrating 10 years of marriage this year and loving him only gets better. Any frustration that comes my way doesn’t stay because God opened my eyes to see the whole person instead of focusing on the cracks. I value and respect him for the wonderful man God created him to be.

*The author’s name is a pseudonym.

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