Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Pretend Spouse

Tall dark and handsome. Full of mystery and charm. Never mean or hurtful. A perfect gentleman at all times. Never fails to complement me. Loves every tiny thing about me. Thinks I can do no wrong. Perfect father. Perfect husband. Perfect man.

Any of this sound like a real person? Not to me! However this was my idea of the perfect man as a young girl and he became my pretend husband. I just knew I would find this perfect man and would live in complete bliss for the rest of my life. Poor Colby, he never had a chance! I walked into our marriage expecting a life of ease, perfection and completion and instead got lots of work and hurt.

I walked into situations with him expecting him to react the way my pretend husband would, and he very rarely did. We had our first child and I expected him to be the kind of father that my pretend husband would be. He wasn’t. I expected him to be as romantic as my pretend husband would have been, and he wasn’t that either. So I punished him. I began to close myself off to him and shut him out. I had so envisioned this perfect man that I had no idea how to handle the imperfect man that I had married.

After making a lot of mistakes and almost losing my marriage I finally had a light bulb moment…I wasn’t married to my pretend husband! I had married a human man, not a prince from a Disney movie. This man made mistakes. This man had a lot to learn as a husband and father. But this man was willing to pour himself into becoming the best man he could be. This man loved me for me, mistakes and faults and all. This man was real, and this man chose me. Those were all things that my pretend husband had never done.

It took time and a lot of work but I finally stopped comparing him to my pretend husband. I stopped punishing him for not acting or reacting like my pretend husband would have. I backed off and stopped trying to shape him into my idea of my pretend husband and let him be him.

When I finally backed off and allowed Colby to be Colby and left changing him to God, he was transformed. He was never meant to be like my pretend husband, he was meant to be him. My pretend husband did nothing but hurt our marriage and we were not able to build our marriage until I kicked him out and put all of my attention and focus on my real husband.

If you struggle in this area at all I encourage you to do a couple of things.

1. Kick your pretend spouse to the curb!
It is wrong to make your spouse compete with anyone, much less a figment of your imagination! You do nothing but harm your self and your relationship with your spouse by allowing your pretend spouse a place in your marriage.

2. Accept your spouse for who they really are.
There is not a single person on this planet that is perfect, and that includes you! Yes your spouse has faults, some of them may even be pretty big faults, but until you can fully accept them for who they are your marriage will never go anywhere but down. I am in no way saying that you have to live with major character flaws, but stop jumping down his throat because he came home late or forgot to take out the trash. Accept the fact that they may be a very forgetful person and you may have to remind them of something more often than you’d like to. It’s ok, you will live through it. Promise!

3. Understand that you are at fault here too.
It is not your spouse’s fault that they are not measuring up to your pretend spouse. It is yours. Your spouse should never have been put in that position in the first place and they’ve done nothing wrong by not keeping up. When you expect perfection you will be disappointed. Never forget that you married a flawed human being. Allow them to make mistakes and move on. You know you aren’t perfect and never will be, so stop expecting perfection from them!

4. Talk to your spouse.
As hard as this may be, you need to confess your thoughts to your spouse. There is a very good chance that they had no idea they were in competition with a figment of your imagination all this time. You have been unfair to them by having them compete and you need to come clean with your spouse about your thoughts in this situation. This may also open up a huge opportunity for the two of you to grow closer to each other. He or she may have no idea some of the things you would like from them and by talking about all of this, you may actually gain some of the things you’ve been wanting all this time.

5. Pray.
Jesus knows every thought you have and every desire of your heart, both pure and impure. Never forget that! Anytime you struggle with comparing your real spouse with your pretend spouse stop, and give it to God. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.


Me said...

This is so, so true, Jamie! It is not fair to expect a spouse to be perfect. Doing so sets up your spouse for constant failure. I am enjoying this series. :)

Leslie said...

Excellent! Wise words. So, this is one of your big secrets to the healthy marriage I witness regularly! Thankful for it. :)

ET @ Titus2:3-5 said...

I've heard it said that a woman goes into marriage dreaming of all the ways she can change her husband and a man goes into it praying his wife will never change at all. And it all comes down to our expectations. I read a lot of romance novels as a teen (bad idea) and my hubby was never as wildly romantic as I dreamed he should be. It took me a long time to kick that pretend husband to the curb, but I am so glad I did! Just in time, too. Sounds like our stories have some parallels. :)

the domestic fringe said...

Great post! Somehow we all too often grow-up with fairy-tale ideology. Real life isn't like fairy-tales.

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