It’s no secret to those who know me well that my marriage isn’t perfect. Whose is, really?
So maybe you’ve spent time there lately, struggling in marriage, battling through in that part of the vows that we all like to ignore – the “for worse?”
And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, your pain is magnified because while everyone else is celebrating love, you’re left wondering where the love has gone.
Perhaps you don’t even want to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all?
You’re not alone.
I’ve been in that place, too.
Early on in our marriage, my husband revealed a secret about past trauma that he had kept hidden for years. He had survived things as a child that nearly made me vomit when I heard them, yet he never spoke a word!
That revelation (and other difficult circumstances) led to a really dark time in our marriage.
After talking with some trusted friends, we finally sought professional help, but it was years later before we learned that my husband really struggled with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes, the kind that soldiers get when they’ve been to war, only his was induced by childhood trauma.
At some point, I began to wonder – who is this man that I married? Followed by the thought - this isn’t what I signed up for.
We continued to struggle in marriage, partially because of his own personal fight with demons from the past and partially because I was believing lies from the Enemy about myself, about him, and about us.
I worried a lot about whether we would make it.
Sometimes I even longed for the release and relief of a separation. Wouldn’t it be so much easier on my own?
But I knew that divorce was a sin. I also knew I didn’t want that life for my children, and I knew that part of me still loved my husband in spite of not feeling the love at the moment, so ultimately we decided to stick it out.
Yet it wasn’t easy.
And then came Valentine’s Day, a day for celebrating love and marriage.
The problem was that I didn’t feel “in love” anymore. In fact, at times I didn’t even like my husband, and I don’t think he liked me very much either. I didn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.
So, how can you buy a Valentine’s Day card for your husband when it feels like a lie to even say a simple, “I love you” or “You’re wonderful?”
There are no Valentine’s Day cards that talk about staying committed even though marriage really stinks right now.
There are no Valentine’s Day cards that talk about how you weep at night, yet you hold onto hope for better days.
No, those cards don’t exist.
What could I do? To buy a sentimental card felt like a lie; it would be dishonest. Finally, I settled on a more general card, then added my own note to it.
I wrote about how hard life had been lately for both of us.
I wrote how sorry I was for my own failures as a wife. I wrote about what I saw in him when we first fell in love. Most importantly, I wrote how I planned to stick by him, for better or for worse, even though marriage seemed so much more than “worse” at the moment.
In so many words, I told him I believed in us and I believed in our God.
My husband still keeps those cards, even the ones from the rough years (yes, years). They mean something to him. They mean something to me, too.
We survived that rough Valentine’s Day and some painful anniversaries, too. Although I’d love to tell you we never visited the dark times again in these last 15 years, it would be a lie. We have.
I’ve since learned that every marriage has its ups and downs. That’s just normal.
So, this Valentine’s Day, my heart goes out to you, the wife who doesn’t feel like celebrating love, the wife who feels so unloved and maybe even trapped. I know that Valentine’s Day shines a great big spotlight on your source of pain. I know you are tired of struggling in marriage and you long for just a small slice of peace in your life.
I know you often feel alone in this. And I know the loving feelings just aren’t there at the moment, as much as you wish them to be.
Take heart, lonely, wounded wife.
You are not alone! The Father has not forgotten you!
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
This is just part of my story of surviving Valentine’s Day when you feel unloved… and unloving. I hope you’ll join us for Part 2 in which I share six practical tips for stirring up love when marriage just plain stinks.