Have you ever felt like your husband just doesn’t make you happy?
Like no matter how many gifts they give you, or how much time they spend with you, or how well they treat you, something is just missing?
I was reading an article in Psychology Today called “The Deeper Reason for Affairs,” and in it a world-famous therapist Esther Perel was interviewed about her newest book. In it she discussed the reasons why people have affairs.
One thing that stood out was her belief that affairs little to do with sex and more to do with people trying to fulfill a need that’s not currently met in their lives-a need for companionship, affirmation, adventure, or even identity.
Perel felt that it was unrealistic and unfair to try to have one person (your spouse) fulfill all those needs, so it’s okay to have polyamorous lifestyle. Polyamory is where a couple decides to have intimate relationships with other people with the knowledge of everyone involved. The idea behind this is that everyone’s needs get met in an open, honest way, and everyone ends up happy.
But did God really intend for our spouses to fulfill all our needs?
I really don’t think so.
As Christians our perspective gives me a lot more hope: instead of going from person to person trying to find fulfillment, I don’t need to look any further than my Creator.
As women, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in raising kids, supporting our husbands, and running our homes-not to mention our careers outside the home! So many of us feel like we don’t even know who we are anymore! We get bored with the monotony of our lives and start to wonder what else is out there for us. We start to crave excitement and adventure. We wonder what life might have been like if we had stayed single or married someone else.
But that doesn’t mean our husbands aren’t enough!
We simply need to stop looking to our husbands for fulfillment, and look to God instead. And I know it may sound cliched, but this is something I’ve experienced for myself.
Three years ago, when my daughter was around 7 months old, I felt like I was having an identity crisis. I was on summer vacation from work, and I spent each day caring for our daughter all day. On top of that, I had volunteered to babysit a younger cousin of mine and have him spend the summer with us so that he could go to summer camp during the day and get tutoring from me in the evenings. After a while, each day felt the same-breastfeeding, cooking, cleaning, tutoring. I felt like all I was doing was making everyone else’s life easier, while losing a part of myself in the process.
I complained to my husband that he didn’t spend enough time with me, or take me out enough. So he tried spending more time at home and taking me out more often, but I still didn’t feel happy. There was something missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
My husband suggested that I start spending more time alone with God. So I did. At first, I found it hard to pray. I found that I lost focus easily and my thoughts wandered. But after a while I started just talking out loud to keep myself awake. I started journaling my thoughts and prayers, and reading Bible stories in the Gospels. And I found myself in the story of Mary and Martha. I realized that I was Martha, scurrying around, trying to make sure things were perfect for everyone else, when God really just wanted me to focus on being Mary.
Being Mary meant that my very first priority wasn’t my husband, or even my daughter. My first priority was spending time with Him. I realized that the better the quality of time I spent with Him, pouring out my heart, and listening in return, the more I felt satisfied. I felt centered. After that, no matter what happened later on in the day, my thoughts and emotions were anchored and things didn’t feel so overwhelming.
At the same time, my husband and I started working on PureCouples. We launched the website in 2016, and I started blogging about marriage and relationships more regularly. Blogging made me feel like I had something to contribute to the world beyond changing diapers and doing laundry. People across the world read my blog and found it helpful, and more importantly, I loved the feeling of satisfaction I got from writing. Writing made me feel like my world had clicked into place.
That year taught me several important lessons:
1. God wants me to find fulfillment in an intimate relationship with Him.
No matter how much my husband affirms me and does loving things, I will feel empty if I’m not connected to my Creator. My relationship with God is where I get my sense of self. It’s in His presence that I recognize who I am. When my heart connects with His, I find unconditional love and fulfillment. I recognize that my life here isn’t by chance, but that everything I am and do matters to my Father.
2. God wants me to find fulfillment in our life’s work-using our talents to help transform the lives of others.
God has placed talents in me that will make the people around me better because I was in their lives. It doesn’t have to be anything that gets awarded a Nobel Prize. Being that loving mother, caring teacher, or encouraging friend that someone needed makes a huge difference in life! I’m part of the tapestry God is making of this world.
3. God wants us to find fulfillment in the companionship of like-minded people.
Yes, my spouse is one of those people, but it doesn’t stop there. We’re part of a community of other believers who need our encouragement, and whose experiences can encourage us and give us hope-and fun times! A community of like-minded friends will challenge my thinking and make me a better person.
I agree with Esther Perel on one thing: we do need to receive fulfillment from our daily lives, or else we end up unhappy. But the remedy isn't for us to go from person to person looking for the next high. There’s no way another human being can bring us complete happiness; they're just as flawed as we are! God intends for us to find fulfillment in living a life of intimate communion with Him.
As long as we’re connected to the Source of our being, He gives us a sense of identity. Once our identity is secure, and we know whose we are, we can find further fulfillment in doing work that transforms other people’s lives with our talents. Working to help other people transforms us in the bargain and makes us better than we are.
And when two secure, fulfilled people come together in marriage to build a life together, the results are amazing!
But it can begin and end with our spouse. If we do that, we’re putting them in the place of God, and that’s unfair. It’s also dangerous because it centers our lives around someone who may be just as lost as we are.
So if you’re feeling unfulfilled or empty, try reconnecting with God. Figure out a routine where you can connect with Him on a daily basis so that you start off every day getting anchored in the One who created you and loves you.
I promise you it works!
Till next time,
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