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My Husband’s Happiness is Not My Responsibility

June 30, 2002, I walked into a random church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Little did I know that a handsome man would hit on me there and later become my husband. Fast forward 18 years and three kids: what a joy filled and a hard fought journey it has been. A journey I would not trade for anything. A journey that has brought me to a place of discovering the beauty, freedom and healing in releasing my spouse to tend to his shit. Or maybe a more kind phrase would be, becoming a more wholehearted man. Releasing my husband to his journey provided him with the courage to release me to mine. When we were no longer being contained or controlled by the other, it allowed us to step aside making room for God to step in. 

Journey to Becoming Wholehearted

The journey to becoming a more wholehearted woman has been a type of excavation for me. A slow process whereby lies, agreements, and wounds are being uncovered and identified. In the early years of my marriage, I wanted to please my husband in everything I did. I believed he was the report card on how I was doing not only as a wife and mother but as a person. This was not something he ever communicated to me. Instead, it was a lie that had gotten in long ago. The lie that my husband’s happiness is up to me. With that thinking in play, the perfectionist and fixer in me comes out in full force. And when I try to “fix,” I communicate to my husband that he is not good enough. I open the door for shame to enter in to both of us and in between us. 

Through the process of excavation, I have come to see that becoming wholehearted is living with my entire being. The good, the bad and the ugly. It’s allowing myself to be seen, even in those messy places. From her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brené Brown defines Wholehearted Living as: 

“…engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.” 

The Fruit of Excavation

As I tend to the soil beneath my feet, I become aware of the places in me that react and rush to fix. I become increasingly aware of what my triggers are, and when I armor up in a conversation or in an interaction. As I make the daily choice to lay down judgment and offense and replace it with empathy and compassion, I am investing in the development of a landscape that, in union with my Father, will bear much fruit. Fruit that looks like a wife who releases her husband to be himself and discover more deeply who that person is. Who continually steps aside so that God can step in. 

One of the sweetest fruits of my excavation has been the development of a deeper level of communication with my husband. A communication that is not hindered by our defenses. A communication that cultivates unity. It tears down the walls and tears up the lists of how the other should change or all the ways they’ve blown it.  A communication that offers up our hearts and allows us to be deeply seen. Deeply loved. And, deeply fought for as we are and in who we are becoming. That honors one another’s hearts by asking, ‘Would you like me to listen or would you like me to respond?’ 

Unity Cultivates Intimacy

In the book, Becoming a King: The Path to Restoring the Heart of a Man, Morgan Snyder says: 

“Unity cultivates intimacy. And intimacy – in marriage with our partner and in union with our God – is the goal and the prize of this story.” 

Choosing the posture to release my husband – to get out of God’s way and allow Him to step in – has grown in me a deeper love for my husband than I ever dreamed possible. There is a beauty and a freedom that comes with knowing that I get the joy of being my husband’s wife. Period. I do not need to take on any more than that. My husband’s happiness is not my responsibility. I do not need to carry the weight of being his savior. His problem solver. His buddy. I simply get to love. And that brings a life and a joy that cannot be contained. My eyes aren’t clouded with the lists of his shortcomings. I can see more clearly his strength, courage, and love for me.  And that gives him even more permission to see the beauty and love that I want to offer.

What roles are you fulfilling in your spouse’s life that aren’t yours to play?  What if your spouse was free to enter into their unfinished places at a pace of THEIR choosing, not yours?  Where do you feel the nudge of God to step aside and let Him work?

Robin Pantusa

Robin lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband and three children. She taught kindergarten and first grade for ten years before making the choice to stay home and care for her children. She enjoys the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the laughter of dance parties with her family. Robin finds life in honest and vulnerable conversations and in the partnership of writing with her Father.

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