Written by Jonathan Hayashi, USA
My wife and I fought a lot in the early stages of our married life.
We argued over mere trivialities and our usual way of ending disagreements couldn’t be more different. My wife would be emotionally tense and make attempts to fix the problem, whereas I would be emotionally distant and try my very best to remain aloof and indifferent to the actual issue of contention. I would even go to the extent of waiting for my wife to make some irrational comment just so that I could nitpick at her every word and conduct a “fact-check” on the points being made. I would also conjure up theories just to justify my stance.
Our relationship was turning sour—something had to be done to salvage it. I knew this, but the thing was, I had not the slightest idea of what to do.
Finally, we decided to go for marriage counseling—together. I remember thinking this of my wife at the time: “Baby, you got to start fasting and praying. Repent, girl! Whatever the counselors tell you to do, do it! They will tell you what I’ve been telling you this whole time.” To my self-centered mind, my wife was the key problem in our marriage. For our relationship to improve, she had to change. So, I went into counseling with this fixed mindset.
In His love, God graciously intervened and showed me how wrong I was. Halfway through our counseling sessions, I realized that it was I who needed help—I, Jonathan Hayashi, was the problem. This was a key turning point for me, and God led me to see how pride had utterly consumed my heart and affected my relationships with people around me, my marriage being the most precious of all. These counseling sessions were a timely reality check as God grew my self-awareness and helped me to recognize and acknowledge the deep need for repentance and change in my life.
As I spent much time in reflection, God revealed these three things to me.
1. My Incorrect View Of Marriage
I had bought into the media’s lies and over-romanticized marriage. I set unrealistic expectations on my wife and of what she ought to do to make our marriage work. I had idealized the whole notion of marriage and wrongly thought that marriage would complete me and bring that long awaited “happiness”—that there wouldn’t be any conflict, and love would constantly be in the air. I thought life would be much easier now that my wife and I could face the troubles of the world together.
But oh boy, was I wrong—my wife and I brought entirely new troubles into our lives. When my bubble burst, I was left in a state of misery. Divorce was not an option for us Bible-believing Christians, and I remember thinking “Wow, I guess I’m stuck in this for life. I will have to stay miserable for the rest of my days.”
By God’s grace, He revealed this misconception I had and taught me this truth: God created marriage for us to complement each other and point us to Christ. It wasn’t created for us to complete each other’s needs—only Jesus can do so. Marriage was never about my wife or I. It was all for God’s glory and was a means to reflect that glory to all around us. I realized that I had been looking to the wrong source (my wife) for the security and safety I so desperately craved. The only One who could truly and fully fulfill my longings was Christ Himself.
As St. Augustine once said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
2. My Incorrect View Of Myself
“Why don’t you respect me? Why don’t you support me?” were some of my oft said retorts to my wife. This would lead her into a downward spiral of self-blame and shame and she would try even harder to please me.
As I spent time in God’s word through my personal devotions, He opened my eyes to see the deep-seated insecurities I had about my identity and masculinity. I was trying time and again to gain the approval and affirmation from my wife for who I was and all that I did. When she didn’t give me what I wanted, I got upset and took it out on her.
God led me to realize my folly and convicted me of the need for repentance and to turn to Christ for forgiveness and assurance. My worth does not come from tearing other people down. Instead, my worth comes from Christ’s sacrifice for me, not anything I do or not do.
3. Christ As My Perfect Example
I recall a specific incident that happened while we were travelling from one place to another in our vehicle. As I was talking with my wife, I was hurt by a statement she made. This led to my usual tirade of silly accusations and rationalizations that all stemmed from a place of hurt. Being the ever gracious and compassionate wife that she is, my wife extended her hands towards me and lovingly said, “I don’t know what’s going on, Hun. But remember: I’m for you, not against you.”
This act of Christ-like love struck me to the core and reminded me of Jesus’s unconditional love for an undeserving sinner such as I. As I reflected on the passage of Ephesians 5:21-33, I realized that I’d fallen far short of the call of the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church to the point of giving up His own life, and here I was, nitpicking over issues that were of no eternal value. As I looked at Jesus’ obedience on the cross and His sacrificial love, it began a redeeming work upon my heart firstly as a follower of Christ, and secondly as a husband.
In His divine love and patience, God has shown me the beauty of covenant marriage.
I have grown to appreciate my wife and our marriage. I will never be able to fully express how thankful I am to God for her—the wonderful mother of our children, my dearest friend and closest companion. Her steadfast love and constant support motivates me daily to walk and grow in greater Christ-likeness in the way I relate with her and our children.
I trust that God has placed her in my life for His work of sanctification, and our marriage is an ongoing, growing relationship that continues to transform us both to become more like Christ, by the grace of God.
God saved my marriage and I trust that He can work in your life too.
Would you allow Him to?