Not What I Expected …

Written by Kimberly Green
Messy Marriage Team Member

… Or even what I thought I wanted. 

My parent’s divorce in my adolescence had left scars but had also given me a wonderful gift—the gift of KNOWING their model was broken. My mother playing the perpetual victim and my father continually looking for her to validate him didn’t work. I didn’t know what functional looked like in “real life”, just on TV.

Somehow, along the way in my cultural Christian upbringing, I got the idea that people who were married were the “haves” and those who weren’t were the “’have-not’s”. I had committed my life to Christ, and part of my penance and sacrifice for the bad decisions I had made in my life was to forever remain single. Only “good people” could have “good marriages”.

I wasn’t “good”, and I was determined not to make the same mistakes my parents did. I didn’t understand that single-hood is its own high calling rather than some punishment, or that marriage requires its own sacrifices. But God’s goodness is, thankfully, not dependent upon mine.

I had expected and accepted that I would never have a family. I became guarded, but not unfriendly. It was, frankly, easier—no games, no lies, no disappointments, no one to disappoint!
My goals became those of an independent woman.

On a Monday in 1995, a woman asked me, “Kimberly, what can I pray for you in a husband?” I regret to say I sort of dismissed her, but thanked her anyway. On Thursday, my husband walked into my life.

He was wonderful, but he hadn’t made the same sort of poor choices I had made, and he came from one of those TV type families—the kind with “teachable moments” and after school cookies. I felt inferior, but not because he did anything that encouraged me to feel that way. He was too good for me. I just thanked the Lord for His abundant grace.

When I realized this wonderful man was trustworthy, I went from being guarded, into Damsel Mode. He appropriately responded with Hero Mode. Thirteen months later, we were married.
I loved being with him. I loved his attention and affection. I loved that for the first time I felt truly protected. I loved it so much that when his attention needed to be elsewhere, I would become passive-aggressive or pout. When I would behave this way, he would become insecure. Then I would manipulate. Then he would please. Then the cycle would start over.
Eventually, I realized that this “Codependently-Ever-After” story sounded very familiar. I looked at my family of origin and knew why I was so comfortable, but not necessarily happy. Once it was understood that I was starting to fall into the exact same roles I SWORE I would never play, the work of marriage actually began. I would start to learn that I could take ownership and responsibility, and he would learn he didn’t have to fix everything. It isn’t either of our jobs to make the other happy or feel valuable.
Everyone comes into marriage with their own brand of Mess—even “functional TV people”. Marriage is a process, not an event or contract.  And the messier it is, the larger the opportunity to grow toward one another, become more like Christ, and glorify God.

No, my marriage isn’t what I expected, or even what I thought I wanted. But it’s becoming more than I could have ever asked for or even imagined for it to be.

5 responses to “Not What I Expected …”

  1. Great post! My husband and I used to be in a similar cycle. We’ve finally broken out of it and are on the road to a much better marriage. Thanks for sharing!


  2. I love this post,..for lots of reasons: not the least of which your marriage is to my son,..and you’ve given us two Fabulous grandkids,..along with your Fabulous self! Praying for you every day,…


  3. Rog, The only good piece of advice I was ever given on “screening” a potential mate was not “look at how he treats his mother”, but “look at the way his FATHER treats his mother”. Thank you for being such a “Fabulous” example.


  4. I so relate to this… I have realized several years ago, I needed help fixing me. When I went to get help from counseling, then realized I couldn’t fix him either. I took that responsibility of what is mine and have tried to stick with it since. It has helped so much!


  5. I think this was a great article. I am 4 months into my 2nd marriage and my husband wants out because he says it “wasn’t what I expected” and it’s more stress than he thought it would be. 4 months ago, I could do no wrong and was the person he had waited for his entire life. Marriage takes work, marriage can be extremely stressful. He is trapped in his negativity right now, not even able to see the beautiful aspects of “us.” I am choosing to focus on the positive, and see a bigger picture in the future. If he can work through and deal with his disappointments, I know he will be a stronger person for it and we will have a stronger marriage.


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