Welcome to my first guest blogger, my wife Ellen. Enjoy her thoughts!
I may not be the best writer but I want to be an honest writer
specially when conveying my thoughts on a particular topic that is dear to my heart. My hope is that this is a testament to how marriage can work even when things are stacked against you. When my husband and I started dating, we dated for merely two weeks and then decided to get married and then was engaged for six months and then married. After we were married for a couple of years, our pastor had made a comment saying that he didn’t think we would last because I am so black-and-white and my husband Jon is so flowery and emotional. We were given advice on how I need to become softer and how he needed to step up and be more masculine (whatever that means).
Well, I know what that meant. You see, my experience in the Christian world taught me that women are like a wine glass or a champagne glass – very delicate and fragile – and men are supposed to be more like a beer mug, sturdy and useful. With that kind of imagery, I want you to understand that my goal is to be truthful and honest. I have lost many friends in my life due to my abrasive and blunt responses. My lack of sensitivity has gotten me into a lot of trouble. But if one were talking to me, they would never describe me as a fragile wine glass. I am one who knows my shortcomings and I tried so hard to fit into this Christian mold of a housewife who is always constantly supporting her husband and being his “helpmate”.
After having kids I admit that I have softened a little and learned to grace my words with gentleness — some. However, inside I could never feel right.
I felt constant tension between my cultural Christian surroundings and the depression I was sinking into, knowing I could never live up to the social pressure of being a ministry wife.
I was told by leadership in the church that I should not hinder my husband’s calling in life and be supportive. He was juggling a 60 hour work week, worship team and youth group. I was left at home with the kids with nap times and feedings and all of the stuff that comes along with raising children. Don’t get me wrong, it was having children that saved my me. They gave me something to do and wake up for in the morning, or at least they woke me up in the morning. It’s safe to say though, if I had not had them, I would have left my marriage being bored of sitting on the sidelines and watching my husband fulfill his dreams. Then I would’ve gone to some jungle with a machete, collecting fruit with the natives or some other crazy adventure.
One day we looked at each other and decided it was time to get out, so we moved to Virginia. To some people, it may have seemed very whimsical, but to us it was what saved us. We took all of our problems with us and I took all of my struggles with being a wife, a mom and a Christian woman with me. But what moving did was help us slow down to really learn and understand each other. Jon, being very supportive great man that he is, took the time to research and try to understand about personality in order to help me.
I was in a very deep depression over the last few years. I never had needed medication, however I was starting to develop many physical ailments that go along with depression and it was beginning to complicate our marriage. We had stopped everything when we move to Virginia meaning all of the extra things, all of the church things that we were doing. In his searching for answers, Jon found typology and discovered that I am an ISTP. Now, I’m not going to go into what that means but I will tell you that only about 2.5% of the population in the world is an ISTP female. I lead with a very strong thinking process and where all of my feelings in the backseat which would account for why I’m perceived as so abrasive and black and white about things. What encouraged me the most was Jon’s willingness to learn about me so that he could help.
After we made this discovery, we slowly have been adjusting our lifestyle to accommodate less what culturally is OK for Christian women and started to take in account who we are as people. My duties as a woman moved out of the home and in to the workforce. Even though I’m still discovering where my gifting and strengths lie, I know that this has made me a healthier person. Without a willingness to discover new things and discover answers to old problems, we would’ve stayed stuck on a path that neither of us was enjoying. My encouragement is to take the time to learn who your spouse is. Do not just follow the superficial cultural norms of marriage. To me that is just the easy way out, but to sit down and have a discovery talk with your spouse. Learn each other. There is no template just raw human individuals that need to be discovered and loved.
What do you think? In what new ways have you answered old problems? Are you feeling stuck? Tell me how you are enjoying your life today.