Early in our marriage I had lots of ideas and expectations. Unfortunately, my husband is not a mind reader so any time he fell short of those expectations I made him miserable. When he had a stressful day at work and the boss kept him late was often the same night I prepared an elaborate meal and made plans for us to go out and do something fun. (That was when we had no kids, two jobs, time, and money) Anyway, the dinner would go cold, we'd have missed the movie, and the more minutes that ticked by, the worse it would get. Concern would turn to irritation, irritation to frustration, frustration to anger, and anger to bitterness. By the time he walked in the door, he didn't stand a chance. As you can imagine, after a couple of years, home wasn't a place he looked forward to at the end of the day. If his day at work was difficult, he knew that often his home would be worse. He would often stay later to avoid it which made me madder. When given the silent treatment, he often gave the silent treatment...probably just grateful that he wasn't being nagged to death. Irritation turned to frustration, frustration to anger, and...you get the picture.
Thankfully, through a series of events, and often painful pruning, the Lord spoke to my heart. I learned that if I wanted things to change, I had to change. If I wanted my husband to look forward to coming home then home needed to offer something to look forward to. Our home needed to become a sanctuary. Look at the definition of sanctuary.
sanc·tu·ar·y /ˈsæŋktʃuˌɛri/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[sangk-choo-er-ee] –noun, plural -ar·ies.
|1.||a sacred or holy place.|
|3.||an especially holy place in a temple or church.|
|4.||the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.|
|5.||a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.|
|6.||immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.|
|7.||any place of refuge; asylum.|
He needed a place of refuge, he needed immunity, he needed a place where he felt safe and loved and accepted. Those words did not describe our home back then. Now I'll just tell you, it didn't change overnight. After a week of holding my tongue, putting him first, letting the little stuff go...I wanted to give up. It didn't seem to be working. He was still coming home late. He was still withdrawn. Basically, he wasn't buying it. But the Lord reminded me I didn't need to change what I was doing in order to get my husband to change. I had to be who God called me to be as a wife regardless of how my husband responded. Besides, it had taken almost two years for me to teach him that home was not a refuge. It was not a place where he could feel safe and loved and accepted. He was definitely not getting immunity. It probably took another year for me to prove to him that things were going to be different. I would fail miserably some days...I still do. But as I take refuge in the Lord, our home is becoming a place of refuge for my husband.
These past couple of weeks have been rough. Work has been especially draining and challenging for him. But in those difficult moments in his day he called us for comfort. He looked to me for encouraging words and a listening ear. He couldn't wait to get home at night. Because this week when his nights were especially long, when his job was particularly frustrating, when it seemed he was being attacked on every front, he had a sanctuary.