For most of my life I have been an avid journaler, but I am sad to say that I have been pretty neglectful these past few years. It’s unfortunate because these have been break-through years for me. I wanted to share a little of the journey that I have been on, but I didn’t document it well at all. However, I pulled out all of my old journals today, and what I read was a painful reminder of where I’ve been, as well as a joyous celebration of what my heavenly father has done in my life. I talk a lot these days about how great my husband is, and how happy we are. Those things are true. My marriage is wonderful, and I love my husband very much. It truly does get better all the time. I absolutely love him more than I did 20 years ago and I look forward to growing old with him. But, I have to be honest and tell you that we had some tough years. Last week while we were snowed in my daughter did personality profiles on various family members. My husband and I got a good laugh over the fact that our personality types are among the most incompatible. We laugh because it’s true. Imagine a friendship between Napoleon and Bob Dylan. That’s us. In most ways, we are not alike. We process things in totally different ways, we communicate in different ways, we have completely different ideas about how things should be done…the list goes on. Early in our marriage when he was dealing with the stress of building a career and I was dealing with the stress of caring for young children, things got a little crazy. He’d come home and want everything “just so” and I would want him to sweep me off my feet and tell me how much he appreciated me. He would get frustrated because the toys weren’t picked up and I would get frustrated because he didn’t ask me how my day was. Sometimes the frustration was overwhelming and…well…explosive. Truth; Our pastors and small group leaders have had to help us settle many heated and tearful arguments. Usually it was the same argument that we kept having over and over. We took our vows seriously and we were committed to our marriage, but working through those things was difficult. I know that we were at the stage where many couples decided to go their separate ways, but that was not an option for us. Thankfully we had our church family and friends to help us through it. During those difficult years, I thought that the problem was him. I thought that he was too harsh and demanded too much, and if he would just love me the right way, everything would be fine. Then came the revelation. It was painful. It turned out that I was not an innocent victim. I was a whiny brat who liked to feel sorry for myself and wanted things my way. My husband has very high standards. I did not want to rise to meet them. Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not saying, and he would not say, that he was totally perfect. But, I realized that I was continually trying to fix him and make him adjust to me. Through prayer and conversations with friends I started to see that our issues were not all about him. There were some things in my heart that needed to change. I could probably write a whole series about what those things were! I’ll try to give the quick overview. First of all, I was selfish. I had a certain way that I wanted him to love me. When I felt that he failed to meet my various needs, I got mad and bitter. And he had certain needs. He is a guy who needs order. Coming home to a messy house stresses him out. When he would try to communicate that to me, I would get mad and bitter. So, yeah, I was mad and bitter quite a lot. God showed me that I needed to love and honor my husband by cleaning up the house before he got home from work. That should have been a simple thing, but I fought against it for too long. Also, I needed to take better care of my appearance. I had babies and small children and it was not uncommon for him to come home and find me in sweat pants, with unbrushed hair and spit up on my shirt. I thought I was noble because I was caring for the kids. I thought that should be enough for him. He needed me to love him enough to make myself look nice for him. Also, I had a painful revelation one day as I was walking through the grocery store. I looked awful and my kids were looking pretty rough as well. It occurred to me that we are a reflection of my husband. He is a man who cares about his appearance, and there we were looking like slobs. I was embarrassed for him and I knew that I had to change things. I’m still not a fashionista and every now and then the younger kids get out of the house looking a little ratty, but I have worked hard to improve this area. And in case you are thinking that my husband must be a hard man, read on. I don’t like to spend a lot of money. I always try to get the best deal possible and find things on sale. A few months back he informed me that I was to stop looking at price tags when I go shopping for clothes. That’s not an easy thing for me! He told me to find nice clothes that look nice and just buy them. How many wives would love for their husbands to say that to them? There were two really big revelations that changed everything. First, there were a lot of things that I did because I thought I was loving him. If I did dress up, or clean up the house, I thought it was to make him happy. What I realized was that even that was based in selfishness. I wanted him to come home, tell me I looked beautiful and what a spectacular job I had done. It was not about honoring or loving him. It was about getting praise for myself. This was a heart-wrenching revelation as I realized the depth of my selfishness. I had to change the whole way that I think about things. I don’t clean the house so that he will come home and tell me I am amazing. I clean the house because (some are about to get offended) it’s my job. My husband goes to work and works 12 hour shifts at a very stressful job, and I clean the house, do the laundry, cook the meals, educate our children and a few other things because, that is MY job. I know people have different situations, but in my family, this is how it goes. It’s not about making him love me. It’s about doing my part to keep this operation running smoothly. And then, I realized that I was lazy. Ouch! That was the most painful of all. I used to call it the “L-word”. There’s not much to say here, really. I still struggle with it. I can say that I hate cleaning or doing laundry, but the truth is, there are other things that I would rather do, and those things usually include doing things I like, rather than what’s needed. I didn’t think I was lazy because it’s not like I sat around watching soap operas or taking naps. I was always busy. But, I ran off to do more “fun” things when there was work that needed to be done. When God showed me this about myself, it broke my heart. That was not who I wanted to be. I am purposely not sharing my husband’s issues here. Partly because I realized that you can’t force a person to change. But mostly because I realized that I desperately needed to change. My change in heart and attitude changed our entire marriage. Yes, we still fight occasionally. Yes, I still get my feather’s ruffled and over react sometimes. That’s life! We talk through these things, whoever needs to apologize apologizes, the one who needs to forgive forgives and we go on. I am being 100% honest when I say that my husband has made me a better person in every possible way. I know God more because of him. I love other people more, because of him. I am more productive, because of him. I am a better mom and a better friend, because of him. He has always pushed me to go further than I thought I could and to demand more of myself than I thought I was capable of. He’s a good man and I am one very blessed lady. On that note, I’m going to curl up next to this perfectly incompatible guy who is already asleep beside me.