It was never something I thought I would do as a wife. I would have rebuked myself if I knew I was doing it purposefully. And yet, as our marriage slowly developed, I began to do the one thing that started to hurt my marriage:
My husband and I had dated all of 6 weeks before our first Valentine's Day together. I had already been whisked up for a weekend in Tahoe to meet his parents, we had already said "I love you!" and we had already discussed marriage … we worked fast folks.
So our first Valentine's Day together was covered in sentimental emotions and became overwhelmingly special. With a full heart and lots of smiles I received roses at work and at home with the most loving cards filled with sweet words, a romantic candle-lit dinner at our favorite restaurant where we adoringly stared into each other's eyes, and then a surprise trip to go see "The Phantom of the Opera" where Zac cuddled me close the whole play. I felt so, so, so loved. It was such a sweet day.
Fast forward to Valentine's Day the very next year. We were newly married and still getting used to living with each other. And I had very high expectations for Valentine's Day. I couldn't wait for all the romantic and thoughtful gestures again from my very loving husband. However, we woke up on Valentine's Day with Zac pretty sick. He rolled out of bed with a coughing fit, went downstairs for a minute, came back up with a bouquet of flowers which he handed to me. "Happy Valentine's Day babe," he sleepily said. Then he crawled back into bed and fell asleep. I was a little disappointed but then grew excited a few hours later when he presented me with a large box. I opened it to find an ice cream maker … and I felt disappointed again. This didn't seem very romantic. I failed to notice Zac's sad look at my response. I just worried about me missing out on "romantic" gestures. We spent the day inside because Zac was sick and I inwardly declared it a miserable day.
What I realize now is I made it miserable.
And then I did it again. And again. And again.
Because I began to love my husband conditionally. I began to love him based off what he did and what hesaid and not because of who he IS.
I didn't look at him unloading the dishwasher as a blessing; I looked at how he put the plates in the wrong spot.
I didn't look at him letting me sleep-in while he watched the baby as a blessing; I looked at the messy living room he didn't clean when I woke up.
I didn't look at the countless hours he worked hard to support us as a blessing; I looked at him not coming home in time to help make dinner.
I didn't look at the hugs and kisses he gave me in the morning as a blessing; I looked at him notleaving enough "I love you" messages on my Facebook wall.
I didn't look at him taking me out to dinner as a blessing; I looked at him in frustration for not wanting to eat vegan food (yes, seriously).
And I didn't look at the way he bought me an ice cream maker (because it was the thing on our wedding registry I said I wanted most) as a blessing; I looked at the missing candlelight and flowers and violin playing in the corner.
I just didn't love. Love the way I ought to love. The way my husband deserved. The way love is supposed to be.
And friends this is just the surface of all I put him through. We won't even discuss the emotional aspects of it all.
We all know "The Love Chapter" from 1 Corinthians 13 but one verse has clearly stuck out to me lately: "Love does not seek it's own (v. 5)."
And oh, how I was seeking my own. My behavior began to mimic my heart. And it hurt him. It hurt me. And because we are ONE it hurt us.
My husband wasn't the problem. He wasn't who I was at war with. It was myself. My own selfish expectations. It became all about ME and not about WE.
And I was so wrong.
Love based on conditions isn't love. If God loved me only based on my actions I would deserve nothing. If people loved me based only on my actions I would deserve nothing. Love requires a lot of grace and zero conditions. And yet we place conditions left, right and center on our spouses, kids, friends … even the stranger at the store.
Unconditional love has no basis. It just loves … and joyfully so. Once I realized what I was doing I asked God to change my heart and my expectations. And to love freely. I will admit that I am still a work in progress but I began to notice when God changed my heart that I began to look at my husband differently. I didn't look at him based on what he did anymore. I just looked on Zac for Zac. And Zac is a wonderful thing.
I said in the beginning of this post I didn't mean to love this way … It just slowly snuck up after expectation after expectation I had. I pray today that you will stop to reevaluate how you look on your spouse, family and friends with love. Let's all drop the conditions and just love with grace. The way the Lord so graciously loves us.
Finally, to my husband, I will say:Babe, I will always treasure that ice cream maker you got me. It is a symbol of you trying to make me a happy and a forever reminder that I looked at love all wrong. Today I will say you have my heart fully and completely. Unconditionally I am yours … And I am ever SO happy to say so. I love you Young Moyle.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Blithe, A Blog. It has been republished here with permission.
Tammy Moyle writes about her real-life struggles and joys (as well as her passion for cupcakes, lipgloss and coffee) from her home in Las Vegas, Nevada where she lives with her husband Zac and their 3 kids. She has written pieces for various online magazines and currently blogs way too much about her personal life at Blithe, a blog.