From Best-Selling Author Mary E. Hanks
If only I could fix my husband and every problem between us, our marriage would be perfect! Make that an instant fix, please, because I like quick solutions. You know, fast food, self-checkout, instant deposits. Can I have that coffee to go?
Sometimes, we have such high expectations of our marriage partner. Like he’s supposed to be Superman or the most tender hero from one of our favorite author’s novels. Yes, I like those heroes too. But aren’t we expecting something artificial/fake/fictional of the man we pledged our love to that we would never expect of ourselves?
I’m flawed. You’re flawed. We’re all flawed—right?
So the idea that I could fix him is silly. Think of the beam-in-the-eye business. How can I extract a piece of lint from his eye when I have a twig jutting out of my eyeball? Yet—I’m cringing—sometimes, that’s what I want to do. (See the first sentence above.)
Have you ever felt like stuff in your marriage, or in life, would be so much better, more peaceful, more loving, if you could fix your spouse and coax him to change? If not him, maybe your kids, family, or circumstances. Maybe even change the world.
Now, changing the world sounds fabulous. But hefting that weight on our shoulders? How can we change others when we, too, are broken, flawed, and in need of change?
I’ve read that if I have the tiniest bit of faith, I can remove mountains. Imagine that! Move mountains? Whew. That’s a powerhouse of possibility right there.
So, with my little bit of faith, I pray for my marriage and family. I believe for God to do amazing things in my tribe. But sometimes—here’s that cringe—I want to add some action to my faith! We’re supposed to do that, right?
And while I believe God is the great transformer, the One who can change every situation in a heartbeat, maybe, just maybe, He needs my help!
I love to solve things. If something’s lost, I search until I find it. If something’s broken, I try to figure out what’s wrong. I love tearing a room apart and putting it back together.
But sometimes I can’t fix the damaged thing. I can’t find the misplaced item. I can’t resolve the problem.
Marriage is complicated and multi-layered. As are most relationships. Things go wrong that you never expected. During our marriage vows, we didn’t say—and maybe we should have—“I promise to stick with you even if we have crushing financial difficulties, if we argue constantly, if one of us sins against the other, if the world crashes down around us with crisis and loss, if I feel like you don’t love me, or if I don’t love you anymore.” I believe vows should be more realistic, but that’s a thought for another time.
When I was a young bride, I imagined that we would always feel like we felt then—wildly in love and so connected emotionally. You know the lyrics from the Beatles’ song, “Will you still need me … when I’m sixty-four?” When you get married at seventeen, it’s hard to picture how you’ll feel toward your spouse when you’re in your sixties. People say they want to grow old together, but do they consider how much both will change over thirty, forty, or fifty years?
We all change. That’s a good thing, right? Living things change and grow. But when our husband goes through a problem, or a season of personal change, sometimes we mentally shoulder the weight of blame and responsibility and think we must fix it.
I used to inhale blame and guilt like a thirsty sponge. I thought I had to be the peacemaker. Always saying I’m sorry. Trying to mend things. But at some point, I realized that, while I’m flawed—goodness, yes—I am not the healer or repairer of our marriage.
I am not the answer for fixing us.
In the book I’m writing, Judah wants to be his wife’s refuge. Paisley left him. Now she’s back, and they’re working on reconciliation. He desperately wants to be her everything. To keep her from ever running again. But he isn’t, and can never be, her savior.
If you’re like me, you may grasp for ways to solve stuff. If only we’d read another marriage book. If only we’d pray together for twenty-one days, holding hands, for twenty minutes a day—you get the picture. If only he’d talk to the pastor. If he’d just listen to me!
After forty years of marriage, here’s what I’ve found to be true—Jesus is the fixer! Not me. What a relief! He’s our refuge. He’s our peace in the middle of a storm. He’s the forgiver of all forgivers. He’s the grace giver when our grace bucket is dry. He’s the ultimate big shoulder for you and me to lean on.
If there’s a secret ingredient in marriage, or in life, it’s God’s love. His love is balm and healing. His love restores. It’s a dynamo of radical change if we’ll let it happen in us. Because only then, when we are full of His supernatural love, can we truly walk in love.
At fixing people, including my husband, my kids, church people, or even strangers, I am totally inept.
At accepting, loving, and showing God’s grace unconditionally? That’s something I can get excited about and do, and so can you, because that’s what Jesus did for us.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8
Mary Hanks writes Christian romances about second chances and reconciliation in marriage. She believes that second chances change our story.