The copy arrived a few months ago, having been discovered among forgotten keepsakes. The letter’s author passed away years ago, yet her voice spoke clearly through words penned a decade before that. Sad words. Words of regret. Words of wisdom realized too late. Reading them, my heart broke, for her and for many whose marriages have ended after one spouse finally realized they needed to change, but for the other, it was too little, too late. I share her words with permission. I believe every woman who is married, may get married, or longs to get married should see them. Heed them. Learn from them.
The woman behind the correspondence was getting divorced. People close to the couple pointed fingers at what seemed the most obvious reasons, but the letter holds the confession of a wife whose drive and passions drew her attention to accomplishments and commitments and away from home.
“I was leaving him a lot, mentally and physically,” she confessed.
When her husband stopped saying anything about her unavailability, she misunderstood the quiet for peace. Engaged in her own career, she heard with her ears but failed to listen with her heart to “the complaints, the unhappiness, what he really wanted for us.” As her marriage crumbled, she wrote:
God had to use this situation to awaken me to my misplaced priorities. I began to see the specifics of many, many things which troubled him that I had neglected to rectify. Even though a lot of my activities and efforts were not wrong in themselves, i.e. work, speaking, professional meetings, commitment to exercise, studying, long hours at the office, separate recreation, Bible study, etc., they were all gratifying. They were placed ahead of the relationship God had joined together. I was the one who was tearing the relationship asunder.
I have been convicted on simple, everyday things, i.e. spending time in uninterrupted conversation, listening carefully, without being judgmental or critical of anyone or situation being discussed, going to sports events enthusiastically – not wishing I was “getting something else done,” helping with the yard, appreciating the many things he did for me, not edifying him, making him feel stroked, treating him like a friend – someone really special in our house, going to bed and getting up with him, looking after him, caring, asking, being willing to go with him on his choice of vacations…
The result?
“Pretty soon, he gave up – no response, no fight, no argument – just a broken heart,” she reflected.
Whether it was Bible study, fitness, calorie counting, or work commitments, she saw herself as “pleasing that master.” She made a decision about it, closed the door, and threw away the key. “Perhaps he felt like he was on the other side of the door.”
Then she concluded: “When I was ready to turn my sights on our marriage – pour everything into it, no conditions attached – the trouble was he was no longer receptive. I worry I have pushed him beyond the point of return. The scary thing is to think there may not be enough of a dying ember, that the draining of emotion has been too great to ever replace – even though finally after all these years he has gotten my attention.”
Many of us women are wired much like her. The “be all you can be/you can have it all” message has been pounded in our heads until we’re torn in so many different directions we aren’t effective in anything at all. The most important people in our lives – our husbands – often pay the highest price, all in the name of pursuing what makes us feel good about ourselves.
As I read her letter, God immediately brought to mind a missed opportunity in my own marriage and a new perspective on a “culturally controversial” scripture directed at wives.
Will you join me Thursday for the rest of the story?
Until then, may the Lord soften our hearts toward our husbands, giving us His exorbitant love for them as we become more wholly His today.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His