Want to know the truth about sacrifice in marriage? Embrace it for the sake of your husband and learn to let him love you.
In the late fall of 1999, my husband dumped me on the steps of our university chapel.
Reasons were given; excuses were made. I drove home more harried than heartbroken.
It had taken great effort to let him in.
He appeared on my front steps three months later. It was Valentine’s day in West U, and pinpricks of light had just begun to peek through a Houston twilight haze.
He wore a faded flannel, tattered jeans, and a pair of ancient Chuck Taylors. He held a six-string guitar in one hand and a dozen roses in the other. I gripped the doorframe, hesitant.
My roommates gawked in the hallway, dumbfounded.
He set the roses on the doorstep, confident, and began to sing.
I was of two minds.
One whispered from the hallway: Are you kidding me?!?!? Ginny, go!
The other stood frozen at the Chapel of St. Basil, watching our shadows in the lights of the front walk.
A neighbor’s dog barked. He stopped singing.
My wallet and keys were in my hand, courtesy of the two cupids behind me.
I exhaled and followed him to the car.
We went to dinner, then to the Water Wall in Hines Park.
Pride let go, my heart unlocked, and I learned to let him love me.
Seventeen years later it appears I have forgotten.
This morning at 3:20 AM I found myself in physics class. I’d forgotten my books and my homework. Someone was trying to get my attention. Was it the teacher?
Why would a teacher call me mama?
Movement beside me. A muffled voice. “I think I hear F. I’ll go.”
“No – I got it.” I forged into trip number five. The blanketed form beside me had a long day of work ahead of him. He needed his rest.
I slogged down the hallway secure in my vocation. My children need me; I don’t need sleep. My husband needs me; I don’t need help.
My vocation is sacrificial, alright. Sacrificially dripping with pride.
I fall into this mode all too often, as I suspect most women do. We put our roles in neat little boxes placed smartly on a shelf, making life easier on the surface but forging resentment in the heart. We deny the true nature of sacrifice, the burnt offering in which our gift of self is irreparably transformed in the fires of our faith.
So it is with marriage, a transformative relationship in which we give of ourselves completely. God created us for one another: even Adam saw it, declaring when he first saw Eve: “here at last is flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.” Because of this, we owe Christ not only full surrender in Him, but also full surrender into the man he made for us.
When we empty ourselves this way, we open our hearts to our husband’s love and the love of Christ himself. We allow Christ to burn away that part of us that clings to our selfish pride. We become a new creation: no longer “I” but Him; no longer “me” but Us.
How quickly we forget this in the trials of our daily lives. We take them on alone, uttering a simple “I’m fine” when he asks how we are. In truth, we are not fine. We are tired and we are lonely and we are bored and we are stressed. But we don’t want to bother him. We don’t want to frustrate him. We don’t want to burden him.
We don’t want to let him love us.
My sister, let your husband love you. You don’t have to do this alone. You took your vows for a reason: “as life goes on, [you] become not two compatible beings who have learned to live together through self-suppression and patience, but one new and richer being, fused in the fires of God’s love and tempered of the best of both.” (Fulton J. Sheen, Three to Get Married)
True sacrifice in marriage is giving of ourselves. It’s letting him get up with the children at night. It’s telling him what’s wrong when he notices you are down. It’s letting him comfort you when the day has been ridiculously hard.
Let true sacrifice burn away your pride.
Let your husband love you.
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