Is Your Husband “Not Enough”?
I stood by the kitchen sink staring at my phone willing that my husband would feel my angry stare and call back to apologize for his insensitivity. How dare he? Didn’t he know all I had on my plate right now? Didn’t he understand that I needed him to lighten my load, not add to it? Completely oblivious to my irritation, he didn’t call back. I put my phone down and stormed through the next moments growing more and more agitated that this man wasn’t giving me what I needed.
After a rather large dose of my own reasoning and recounting the mounting insensitivities from him over the last several days, I felt that ever-so-slight whisper of the Holy Spirit, “Love keeps no record of wrong.” Harumpf. I tried to ignore it. But when I quieted my own mental dialogue long enough to listen, I was reminded that Jon is Jon and God is God. Jon can’t give me all I need, and he was never meant to.
It’s a lesson I’ve learned and relearned throughout our 27 years of marriage. I often want this man to know when I’m hurt or lonely or scared or overwhelmed and step in to rescue me from my hard places. And sometimes he does. But sometimes he’s in his own hard place and can’t see mine. And sometimes he’s just selfish and doesn’t want to see it. And that’s what makes him human. Selfishness didn’t disappear in either of us at the altar.
Saying “I do” didn’t ensure we’d always say “I will.”
The hard truth is that sometimes I expect my husband to fill up all my empty places, fix all my brokenness, and save me from all my shortcomings. If he could, I’m sure he would. But he can’t. Yes, he can be sensitive to my needs. And yes, he can walk with me through the hard places. But my husband is human, and he makes a very poor substitute for God. When I require him to be what only God can be, I set him up for failure, and I set myself up for disappointment. If Jon could meet my every need, I’d have no need for God.
Marriage isn’t meant to fix us. It’s meant to refine us. It’s the crucible through which we die to ourselves and live for another. When we move through marriage with the expectation of being filled up rather than being poured out, we will constantly be frustrated.
The great paradox of marriage is this: the more we pour ourselves out, the more we are filled. But the more we seek to be filled, the emptier we become.
I wish I never forgot this. I wish I could remember that my husband isn’t meant to take away all my loneliness, right all my wrongs, and catapult me into a happily-ever-after life. He was meant to drive me to the One who fills the holes in my heart, redeems my mistakes, and promises a complete joy (John 15:11) rather than a fleeting happiness.
So, if we shouldn’t expect our husbands to give us all we need, then what can we expect? We can expect lessons in grace. We can expect opportunities to love when we don’t feel loved, give when we feel needy, and offer the right for our husbands to be human. We can give them permission to be weak and to be “not enough.” Because the hard truth is, we are also human and weak and not enough. And that’s okay.
Not enough is just enough to keep pointing us to the One who is.
God is God. And God is not weak and He is more than enough to supply all that both of us need. Philippians 4:19 tells us, “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Not some. All.
So my job is to tap into the right source when I’m needy. When I need a friend, my husband often makes a good one. When I need a good laugh to decompress, my husband’s quirky humor usually does the trick. But when I’m a mess and need to collapse in the arms of one who always loves well, always behaves unselfishly, and always saves, I run to Jesus. He saves me from my emotional train wreck and saves my husband from unrealistic expectations.
I don’t know if you need this reminder today or not. Maybe your heart is lonely or broken or overwhelmed. Maybe your husband is having a hard time fixing it for you. I pray that you are able to look at him with new eyes—eyes to see his own struggles—and offer grace for his shortcomings. And I pray that your every need be met as you run to the God who takes delight in you and will calm your heart (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT).