I write a lot of personal stuff on here, and a lot of controversial stuff as well. But I am shaking just thinking about hitting post on this one. But I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has had to think through these things, so here goes.
The next man. First of all, I have no idea if there will ever be a next man, which in and of itself leaves me at times sad and at times perhaps a little relieved (do I have what it takes to be a good wife? I have no idea really. Most of the time I think I don’t).
I’ve been thinking recently that I want to be this kind of wife: the kind who doesn’t care what her husband does as long as he isn’t hurting himself, or me, or my kids, or anyone else. I know that may sound restrictive but really, this means that I want to be the kind of wife who doesn’t freak out, who doesn’t place rules, who is fine with a husband who travels or climbs mountains or rides motorcycles or has a beer while watching the game. (To be clear, I don’t want to do most of those things, but I want to be okay with a husband who might want to.)
I want to be that kind of wife.
But here’s my truth: I was not that kind of wife. Like, at all. And so I therefore do not know if I am at all capable of being that kind of wife in the future.
If I thought I were a Pharisee in my staff position at my former church, that was nothing compared to my pharisaical leanings in my former marriage. This is one of my biggest regrets and one of my biggest failings. I was a type-A, anal-retentive, control freak who was the opposite of the go-with-the-flow kind of wife I say I want to be who didn’t let my ex-husband be himself. (I could attempt to explain this all away, I’m sure, but that’s not my point here.)
I placed rules on him. I did. It wasn’t until I started attending a twelve-step group and I learned the slogan “live and let live” that I began to pry my hands from his life and let him do as he pleased.
I teach this now when I share with women’s groups but I wish someone would have said this to me early on in my marriage:
Do not be your husband’s mother.
Do not be your husband’s Holy Spirit.
Let your husband live his own life, making his own mistakes and creating his own victories.
I was his mother. I was his Holy Spirit. And I was wrong.
Next time – if there is a next time – I want to walk into it leading with grace and the newer understanding that God creates each of us so differently and beautifully and that no one’s walk with the Spirit will be or should be identical to mine and that if I’m going to love someone, it needs to be as he is and not as I want him to be.
Side note here: there is a line between sin and difference of opinions, and sin needs to be called out and lovingly confronted. I’m not saying, you know, I’ll let him date or anything. I’m not saying I’ll just learn to live with and tolerate abuse and addiction. No, sir.
However, I would want this next man to love life and love living it the way God created him to live it, even if it’s freakishly different than how I would live it. I would want there to be grace flowing back and forth between us. I would want there to be freedom. I would want there to be mutual support. I would want there to be a celebration of who we each are and how we each see life. I would want our rules to be things like “it’s better to be kind than right” and “let’s take care of each other’s hearts” and “I’m not the boss of you and you’re not the boss of me” and “if it brings you joy, go for it” and “let’s do something cool for God together”. Stuff like that.
For the first time in my life, I have no idea what my future looks like. It’s kind of scary; it’s kind of cool. It’s kind of freaking me out; it’s kind of not. I don’t know if there’s a next man. But I do know that I would want to try to do things differently next time around, if given the chance.