We had been married for about three months. I was standing there in the kitchen, face swollen and tear-stained. I was overwhelmed by guilt, failure, and an intense feeling of inadequacy. I just knew that I was a failure as a wife.
If you have been married for any length of time then you know this exact feeling — knowing that you have messed up in one of the most important jobs you’ve ever had and let down the person you love the most. It’s not only heartbreaking but it makes you feel completely inadequate. I’ll never forget that moment and how I explained through my sobs exactly why I was a failure as a wife. I began listing things off to David that made me the world’s worst wife.
- I haven’t had time to do laundry
- I yelled at you for leaving that towel in the floor
- I lost my patience when were waiting in line and took it out on you
- I forgot to pray for you this morning
- I’ve gained 5 pounds since our wedding
- I haven’t swept the floors in over a week
- I speak to you too harshly
- I’m not as attractive as the day we met
- I fell asleep before kissing you goodnight
- I have nothing planned for dinner and the thought of cooking is stressing me out
- You are a much better husband than I am a wife
I gave all of those reasons to my new husband. I practically yelled them to him. And he stood in complete shock. I’d been bottling those feelings up for weeks and he had no clue that I was feeling like an absolute failure as a wife. He could not believe the crazy list I had just rattled off to him and it took a few moments for him to gather his thoughts and finally speak.
When he did finally speak it was to calm me and reassure me that at no point in our marriage had he ever thought of me as a failure or a bad wife. Though I knew he wasn’t lying to me, I also didn’t believe him. I walked around almost every day with these feelings of failure and inadequacy…how could they not be true?
Friend, if this sounds like you then I want to share with you a few things that I have learned as I’ve navigated these feelings…
1. Failure & Falling Are Not The Same
One of my biggest obstacles to overcome in the early months of our marriage was understanding the difference between failing as a wife and falling as a human.
Failing as a wife would mean that I neglected my marriage – I abandoned the relationship I promised to honor or intentionally hurt this person that I promised to love and obey.
Falling as a human would mean that I had a bad day – I lost my patience, spoke disrespectfully, dropped the ball on a responsibility, or let stress get the best of me.
“I simply had to learn that just because I fell, that didn’t mean I failed”
I simply had to learn that just because I fell that didn’t mean that I failed. It just meant that I was growing as a wife. It meant that I was figuring out how to be the partner that David needed and the person that God was calling me to be. I’m still learning this — every single day. I’m still falling. But, I’m not failing. And neither are you.
2. Marriage is Not About My Success
I think somewhere deep inside, the main reason I felt so disappointed in myself was because I wasn’t living up to my own expectations. There are only two people that I need to be concerned with when it comes to my marriage: my husband and God. But somehow I had moved my own expectations for wife-hood ahead of both of them. I wasn’t feeling like a failure because David was voicing that to me or because God was laying it on my heart — I felt like a failure because I kept convincing myself that I was.
The main reason I was convincing myself I failed? Because I hadn’t lived up to the insanely perfect idea I had in my head of the type of wife I would someday be. I would see other wives have emotional moments, get impatient with their husbands, or get lazy with things like health and housekeeping and I would always say things like “not me! I will be the most loving, patient, and perfect wife.”
Just by saying that in my head a few times, even years before I was married, I set myself up for disaster and disappointment.
“Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife…the pressure to be perfect was lifted.”
Finally, I realized that my marriage is not about ME. It isn’t about me being the perfect wife. My marriage is not about my success. But rather the MIRACLE of marriage. It is about David and I being examples to the world of what God can do with two hearts and how He can use two people, bring them together as one, and do something amazing for His Kingdom. Our marriage is about being a picture of Christ and His love for His Church. How could I, the wife — the church, do that if I was more focused on myself than the one that is loving me, my husband — Christ.
Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife and focused my attention back on the two other people that were in this relationship — David & Jesus — then the pressure to be perfect was lifted.
Feelings of Inadequacy are Straight from The Devil
There is just no nice way to say it.
Those feelings of perfectionism, failure, and inadequacy were lies whispered from the Enemy. I let this world’s perception, — and often-times the church’s incorrect perception — of what success in marriage looks like, seep deep into my spirit and convince me that I wasn’t good enough to be anyone’s wife. And I bet Satan just sat back and laughed, pleased with how he had convinced me to disregard everything that I know God promises me — which is the following:
- That He will finish every good work He starts inside of me
- That I have everything I need to be a good wife when I turn to Him
- That marriage is meant to be a picture of His love
- That for everything I lack, He provides grace, mercy, and hope
“THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. ”
Fellow wife, you are not a failure. You are not the world’s worst wife. You are an imperfect human trying to love and respect another imperfect human through all of life’s demands. THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. It’s about showing up when you feel like you can’t. It’s about looking to Jesus every time the enemy’s lies come sneaking in. It’s about rejecting the enemy’s lies and resting fully on who God says you are and what He says makes you a good wife.