Mark: When I met Jill I was drawn to her spunk. Her faith. Her no-nonsense attitude. After we got married that turned into black and white thinking and strong opinions.

That wasn’t what I signed up for.

Jill: When I met Mark I was drawn to his compassion and his sensitivity. After we got married that turned into him being a feeler, a pleaser, and passivity.

That wasn’t what I signed up for.

Mark: After talking to hundreds of couples over the years, our experience isn’t unique. What we’re initially drawn to becomes magnified and seems to morph into something different.

Jill: Somewhere along the way a friend challenged me with these words, “You’ve gotta grieve the loss of the husband you thought you had and love the one you have.” 

That was just the perspective I needed to change my thinking.

Mark: I wish I’d had a friend say those words to me early on because I needed to hear them.  I spent way too many years trying to change Jill and eventually thinking the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.  That was an incredibly painful detour that I hope I can prevent others from taking.

Jill: Even though I had a change in thinking, there were still plenty of times when I prayed “God change him,” and should have been praying, “God show me how to love him.”

Mark: There are two parts to the wisdom Jill’s friend shared with her: Grieve and Love. We first have to let go of the loss of our imagined partner. No one person can probably live up to the dream spouse we have in our mind. Every person is imperfect in some way. Grieving the loss of what we imagined, helps us move into reality.

Jill: Once we grieve, then we love well. Love is a choice. A decision. It’s not a feeling. Often love can actually the impetus of change. When God was teaching me most about love, he took me to Romans 12:9-21:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Mark: So is it time for you to “grieve the spouse you thought you had and love the one you have?”  I’m so glad I’ve learned to love the one I have.  I invite you to do the same.

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