This is a guest post written by the lovely Jen Daniels of We Ask Always.
Many weary nights I have rocked and nursed, fallen asleep cross legged, upright, Boppy pillow perfectly placed. Startled awake by fear of a fallen infant only to find an exposed, engorged breast leaking liquid gold (I can’t be the only one!) and a lap full of tiny, slumbering infant whose need to nurse will come before my getting horizontal again.
It’s a weary life, this motherhood, and beautiful.
And more often than we care to admit, disappointing.
Something changes in us when we become mothers. We give more of ourselves than we knew we could give, and yet still we know we have more. I found myself giving and flowing out to my family over and over, seeing the fruit of that labor, and feeling empty all the same.
Weary and tired, no family nearby to support this raising of children.
A husband working long hours and often gone over night as a resident taking hospital call.
I have known weary.
Looking back at the last seven years of raising children, the thing I wish I could turn back the most, is my choice to hold tight within my heart the expectations I had of my husband.
I wanted to support him fully as he pursued his career as I knew his heart was (and is) to care for our family well, yet there was always a longing deep, an ache that went to bed nightly unfulfilled. You see, I wanted him to see the simple things he could do to help me, mostly to show love and affection and concern, but I never told him.
Instead I expected him to just KNOW what I needed, what would encourage me.
And it poisoned our marriage.
In my lack of wisdom I failed to see that just as I had never navigated all the giving away of oneself that motherhood would require, he had never walked as a father either.
Instead of telling him it would make my day if he would offer to hold the baby so I could take a long shower, or that calling in the afternoon to tell me that he would bring home dinner would be, to me, just about the sexiest thing I had heard all week, I bottled it all up.
The wage I earned was a heavy heart of stone, growing more and more dense as each day my hopes and needs became more and more invisible to him, to the point that I felt it was actually me, in my whole person-hood, who had become invisible.
I read once, that “resentment is like drinking poison, and waiting for the other person to die”, and this is how I lived. Bated breath, waiting for him to notice all he wasn’t doing for me, in light of all I was doing for him. Each meal prepared, the caring for our children, the house, all giving that is good and right, became a threshold for my sin against him.
Throughout this time I had cried out to God so often,
“Lord help him to see how selfish he is!”
“God teach him to make me radiant!!”
“Father, make him more like those husbands who jump in and help!”
What I failed to realize?
Those husbands who help more, had wives who shared their needs.
I saw it as a sign of weakness in our marriage to have to spell things out for him over and over, once more. But is this not the grace we receive from the Father day after day after day? He is so patient with us as we learn. He reminds us time and again of who He desires us to be, giving us gentle reminders and nudges, sometimes even spelling out His hopes for us in plain sight.
He tells us in Job 5:2 that “to worry yourself with resentment is a foolish, selfish thing,” and oh, how it is. My heart and home has been burdened by my pride and selfishness too often, until I broke the wall down.
And that is what I ask of you, dear mother and wife.
Don’t let life and time in these precious and challenging years be wasted in a wallowing of unmet expectations. Pray over your marriage. Ask God to give you wisdom in how to approach your spouse with any resentment you have let fester.
Walk in humility with the man who loves you.
Choose to help him be your partner.
It’s a journey I have chosen, and the fruit is good.
This post is part of the “31 Days of Middle of the Night Motherhood” series.
Have the lonely hours in the middle of the night become a breading ground for resentment against your spouse? You are not alone, sister! Let us know how we can pray for you.
Jen is wife to a professional student, unexpected homeschooling mother to four spunky rug rats and a lover of hipster coffee shops. When she’s not cleaning messes or reading stacks of children’s books to squirmy listeners you might find her running a trail or curled up with a good book just for her. Read more of her reflections at We Ask Always.