Guest Post from Kathy Collard Miller, author of Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory

Who holds your heart? God or your spouse? Kathy Collard Miller shares a story with honesty and vulnerability about how she learned the hard way that depending on our spouses to take care of our hearts brings inevitable hurt. She learned, as I have as well, that only God is capable of meeting all our needs.

Kathy is the author of over 50 books including her new one, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory, from which this blog is adapted.

Resist Hurt Feelings in Your Marriage

by Kathy Collard Miller

I have a long history of being easily offended—especially in my marriage.

When my husband, Larry, wouldn’t immediately respond to what I believed was important, I felt justified to react with criticism, anger, and manipulation.

If he seemed to indicate I was imperfect, incapable, or unloving, I felt hurt and told myself he never did anything right either. I didn’t recognize I was giving the key to my heart’s contentment and peace to him when only God could provide what I longed for.

Now, I know I can bring glory to God by seeing the truth: being offended blocks my ability to see any of Larry’s motives to protect himself. His comments say less about me than it does his own emotional wounds and needs.

How It Began

I thought I married my Prince Charming. He seemed so committed to being what I wanted while we dated. His confidence and fast decision making skills made me feel secure when I was with him.

But then the real life of marriage set in. What I believed were his wonderful qualities while we were dating, soon became sources of feeling unloved and uncared for. I’d felt unloved in my childhood and without realizing it, I was trying to avoid feeling that way again. His confident decision-making seemed to ignore my opinions.

After seven years of marriage, when Larry and I were at odds with each other, I was furious at him for not meeting my needs. I believed his lack of care communicated I was unimportant. Of all people, he was supposed to be the one telling me I was important.

I felt trapped and uncared for and resorted to anger to defend myself, thinking I was justified in feeling hurt and offended.

What I didn’t realize was my “offense” blocked me from seeing his needs. I could only focus on my needs. I thought if I stopped being angry, I would be exposed to more rejection. I didn’t look to God to be my defender and refuge. And of course, I had no thought of God’s glory. As a result I wasn’t loving my husband well.

In turn, my anger gave Larry the impression he could never satisfy me and that he was a failure as a husband. To protect himself from feeling weak and powerless, he not only resisted but actively avoided interaction with me. He chose to work as a cop and a real estate agent, which kept him away. Plus, he flew planes as a hobby. If he happened to be home, I complained and pointed out all the ways he wasn’t being “good” to me.

Hitting the Wall

One morning Larry announced he was flying north to San Jose for the day. Although I begged to go with him, he countered my reasoning with deftness. I again felt belittled, like I was a little girl who could be easily ignored.

Larry walked away down the hall and then through the laundry room into the garage, closing the door behind him. I was eating an apple and before I realized it, I hurled the half eaten apple toward the closing door. The apple shattered on impact and red and white apple pieces flew throughout the laundry room adhering to the ceiling and the walls.

I whirled around and marched into my bedroom, dropping to kneel beside my bed. “Lord, make his plane crash! I don’t care if he ever comes home again.”

During the following many months, the pieces of apple remained adhered to the walls and ceiling of my laundry room and then began rotting. I saw them as a memorial to the rotten marriage I believed God could not or would not change. I felt there was no hope.

One day while doing housework, however, I sensed God say to me in my heart, “Tell Larry you love him.” I was shocked to hear God’s prodding. I didn’t love Larry and I believed he hated me. I reasoned that if he heard those three little words, “I love you,” that I hadn’t said or thought for over two years, he might think I was approving of his negligence. I flatly refused.

God persistently repeated the message and I adamantly refused again! Then I sensed the Holy Spirit giving a different message: “Then think it the next time you see Larry.

OK, If he doesn’t hear me then he can’t use it against me. Then I’ll do it, even if it’s not true.

That evening, Larry returned from a flying trip and as he walked down the hall toward me, I stared at him, gulped, and thought, “I love you…” and then after a pause, I added, “but I don’t really.” Although I was obeying God, I still couldn’t believe it was true.

But by making that choice to love Larry and as I continued to make loving choices, more loving feelings took over. I also recognized I’d been holding Larry responsible for my happiness. Larry couldn’t meet all my needs—only God could. My perspective was corrected when I realized my motive had been to not feel uncared for and to force him to be what I needed. But I couldn’t change Larry, I could only change myself as I surrendered to God.

That day I went into the laundry room and washed off those rotting apple pieces. I no longer needed a memorial to my rotten marriage.

In time, Larry noticed I wasn’t as angry and demanding of him and agreed to go on a couples retreat with me, which God used as a turning point in our marriage. God graciously healed us, slowly but powerfully. That was in 1978 and soon we’ll celebrate our 48th anniversary. We are best friends and tell each other several times a day how much we love each other.

For a long time, we didn’t fully understand our motives. Purifying our heart’s motives has become a very essential contribution to the happiness of our marriage.

Something to Think About

Have you considered your husband or wife’s motives to protect himself or herself? Have you considered their hurting heart? You are not responsible for their reactions, but you are responsible before God to love them well by seeing them through God’s eyes of love. Then your love will honor God.

The next time you are tempted to be selfish, ask God to reveal if feeling offended or blaming others is involved. If so, you may be trying to avoid taking responsibility for your own choices.

By Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy is making a copy of Pure-Hearted available to the winner of a book drawing. To win, enter by making a comment below . The winner will be drawn on January 24 (US addresses only can win.)

Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books that include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, and Bible commentaries. She is a speaker who has shared in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US states. Kathy and Larry have been married for 47 years and are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California and often write and speak together. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory is available at: http://amzn.to/2jzYdWi

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Linda, thank you so much for including me with a guest blog. I hope, pray and trust that my sharing will be meaningful for your readers. I’m looking forward to sending a copy of Pure-Hearted to the winner of the drawing. Linda, keep up the great work for God’s glory!

  2. Been there! Done that! Wish I had known this before my husband and I divorced!! I would like nothing better than to reconcile and restore my marriage. This was an excellent article, making me realize how both of us contributed to the “death” of our marriage.

    • Oh Deborah, my heart breaks for you. It is so sad that the knowledge we learn later can’t help the past. I’m sorry for you. I can only say God isn’t finished with you yet and I’m sure He uses you in other lives for His glory. He never wastes anything. Thank you for commenting here and for putting your name into the drawing.

    • Linda Rooks says:

      Hi Deborah,
      I’m gong to jump in here too with a comment. God uses all these things to grow us and make us more into the people He first envisioned us to be when he created us. As Kathy says, your realization about all this will not go to waste. God is awesome. And He does amazing things when we just keep focusing on Him and letting Him do His work in us. Since you’re divorced, you need to continue moving forward with your life and not let the regrets overwhelm you. But keep praying for that man you were married to that God may open his eyes also. Miracles do happen and we need to allow God the privilege of doing them while not burdening our hearts by expecting them. God bless you, Deborah!

      • Thank you, Linda! I agree! I am finally able to see some growth within me. For one thing, I probably would not have become as involved with my church if we were still married. My separation and divorce has changed the way I look at life around me. I focus more and more on Him every day. He has definitely helped me open my eyes to what is important. Thank you for your encouraging words about continuing to pray for the man I was married to, and for understanding that I still love him—not for the way he is now, but for what/who he has the potential to be.

        • Linda Rooks says:

          Exactly! Pray that he will have an encounter with God and become that man God intended him to be. Meanwhile, keep moving on with God! Many, many blessings!

  3. Stefani Smirnes says:

    I have been separated from my husband for 17 months now. I pray for the day to come that we will be reconciled and I can live with and be loving to mu husband again. Thank you for wisdom.

    • Thank you Stefani, for commenting, and we pray that also for you. In the meantime, you are growing and drawing closer to God and that’s more important than anything. You are bringing glory to God by letting Him sanctify you, so be encouraged. And thank you for commenting and putting your name into the drawing.

  4. It’s so hard to take a close look at what my needs really are. When I do, they actually seem much simpler &basic than the big ugly monster I let them become in my head. It’s that monster that lashes out when hurt, not the little girl that lives inside who is kind and gentle, and only wants to be loved. Thanks for helping others to take a good look at the women God desires us to be.

    • Hi Teresa, thank you so much for stopping by and also commenting. I value your input. You have given a valuable insight that I think we all do to some degree. We blow things out of proportion–but they seem so reasonable. So thank you for reminding us and also for putting your name into the drawing!

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