Life After Marriage

God wants to be first in our lives over all other relationships for many good reasons. Little did I know that I would revisit this issue in marriage.


When I was single I was either satisfied with God or wasn’t satisfied at all. I didn’t have a spouse or boyfriend to give me the love I was seeking outside of God. It forced me to seek God because He was the only one around. I didn’t have the option of receiving love from anyone but God. Many single people struggle to find their fulfillment in God instead longing for a spouse. Often we believe that when married, this struggle will be over- but this is a huge lie. If we already struggle with God being enough for us when we are single, then it gets worse when we are dating or married. Now there is someone to take His place, someone who can give us some kind of love when we aren’t receiving it from God. It has become dangerous because it’s EASIER for us to be ok without God (that’s a scary thought) because there is someone else’s love available for us to choose first.


Let me explain…
We got married a year ago on August 12, 2006. Leading up to the wedding day was wonderful: Jimmy’s presence in my life challenged me to grow deeper with God and our relationship was focused and centered around making Jesus famous. Our wedding was beautiful, and we enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon in Hawaii. Then real life happened.


The first thing we did as newly-weds was fly to Nashville so Jimmy could do a few interviews, and appear on a TV show. Until this point, I was not traveling with him (obviously because we weren’t married) and this was my first experience in the music industry. It was probably the most intimidating, discouraging, and threatening thing to me as a new wife. Jimmy had his own dressing room, his own make up lady, everyone wanted to talk to him, ask him questions, get things signed, and take pictures with him. He was doing interviews, singing songs, talking to important people… and I was completely overwhelmed. I had a wealth of thoughts like: No one cares about me, what am I getting myself into, Jimmy doesn’t care about me or love me… all kind of things that weren’t true. I was miserable the whole time. I remember sitting alone in the hotel room journaling all of these emotion to God. I felt like I couldn’t handle being married to someone who was going to be famous; it was too much for me. I felt too alone and scared. But I just got married… I shouldn’t feel alone… but I did. It was a very hard weekend, and I had some very tough days that followed that weekend.


I would sit in the back of the auditorium while Jimmy was performing on stage and cry. “That’s my husband on stage. That’s Jimmy. Hundreds of people came to see him. With all that attention, why does he need me?” I had known Jimmy before he got signed, before his songs were on the radio, before anything happened. His sudden popularity was a shock to me. I felt alone. Very alone and scared.


It was challenging to see my husband surrounded by other girls who wanted his picture or autograph. I’m ok with this now, but imagine for a moment, a new wife, already struggling with issues of insecurity, seeing her husband with multitudes of other girls who want his autograph… Satan spread his lies over my mind so thick that I couldn’t think straight. I had never been this insecure before and I began to wonder why.


In the midst of my insecurity struggles, God began to reveal the root of the problem: I had begun to find my identity and security in Jimmy. Instead of depending on the steadfastness of Christ’s love for me, I was placing my worth in how much Jimmy loved me. I had traded the love of Christ for the imperfect love of my husband.


First of all, it is my prayer that no one would ever read what I write and think that it’s wrong to be excited about marriage. Marriage is an amazing, beautiful, wonderful gift that God created as a picture of His love for us. Our marriage is part of our witness to this world about the love of God. “They will know us by our love for each other.” (John 13:35). As Christians, our marriages should be the most passionate ones in all the earth because of the passionate God that we know and serve. We should be more in love with our spouses than anyone else. This is a testimony and a picture of the love between the church, and Christ. Marriage is a gift from the Lord, just like children are a gift from the Lord, just like our families are gifts from the Lord. This is the problem: often we take what is a gift FROM God and put it in God’s place! This is idolatry!


If you don’t understand why God is against this kind of idolatry, picture this: Imagine you are dating someone. You love and care for him so deeply and his birthday is coming up. So you spend hours searching for the perfect gift. You end up getting him two all day passes to his favorite theme park so you can go together. When you finally give him the gift, he gets so excited that he runs out the door to go right away, leaving you alone. And when he returns you ask what he did with the other ticket, and he says he’s going to use it the next day so he can enjoy going twice.


Obviously, you would feel hurt. You intended the gift to be enjoyed together and to continue to bring you both closer together. But he took the gift, forgot about you who gave it and enjoyed it all for himself. That is what we have done to our God. He has given us the precious gift of marriage, with the intention of it being a means for us to become closer to Him. But we have taken the gift, forgotten the one who gave it, and tried to enjoy it all for ourselves, seeking to use it to make us as happy and satisfied as possible. What was intended to draw us to God, we have used to satisfy our own needs and desires. Without Christ, we are very, very, very selfish people. My own heart is saddened as I think of how I have neglected the God who gave me life and breath to selfishly satisfy the longings of my heart.


So is it possible to enjoy the love of your spouse while also keeping Christ first in your heart? Yes! For this to happen, you must understand that your first identity is a child of God. Second to that is being a wife or a husband. When I wake up in the morning, I must remember that I am most importantly a daughter of God and need to make sure my relationship with Him is right before I can expect my relationship with my husband to be healthy. If I am truly filled up by the love of Christ and walking as a daughter of God, then I can enjoy and receive Jimmy’s love for me, not as a necessity, but as an added blessing. Then, when Jimmy’s love for me is inconsistent because he is a sinner just like me, I am not shaken, but rather able to encourage him in his shortcomings.


But this is not where I was at those first few months of marriage. If Jimmy didn’t love me the way I thought he needed to, I got scared and insecure that I might not be worth very much. My self-worth was varying every day based on my emotions. Because I was not receiving God’s love for me and was not being filled up by Him, I naturally began to try and be filled up by my husband and his love for me. Not only is Jimmy’s love not enough for me and not as consistent as Christ’s, but I began to expect my husband to love me perfectly like Christ does. This put an incredible amount of undue and unfair pressure on him to measure up to Jesus, which he cannot do, and caused me to be frustrated and insecure when I was in a circumstance where I thought he loved me less: namely his concerts.


One night we were in Florida for a concert and Jimmy had a long line of people waiting to talk to him and ask for pictures and autographs. I, like usual, was feeling unloved and jealous and insecure. Then I looked around the room and saw two girls sitting alone. Something in me sparked to life as I remembered a time when I was so filled to the brim with God’s love that all I desired was to give it out to others. I would often talk to random strangers and encourage others I didn’t know in their walk with God. I had been empty of God’s love for so long I hadn’t thought about encouraging others at all. I went over to talk to them and we had a great conversation where I got to challenge and encourage them to fall in love with God and to not settle for lesser loves. Ironically, I think I needed to hear what I had to say as much as they did. That night helped me realize that I had been empty of love and insecure because I was trying to fill up the place in my heart where God’s love was with Jimmy’s love. It would be like trying to fill up a swimming pool with a water dropper.


Through this first year of marriage I learned what I should have known from the beginning: the purpose of marriage is NOT to satisfy my needs. Usually, even if we know that’s not the purpose, we often only know that with our head while our heart is still hoping for the fulfillment of its desires through this union. I thought that I knew what it meant to be satisfied with God and Him alone before I got married. And that was probably true, but as soon as life began as a couple, I transferred part of my needs from God to Jimmy, without realizing it. “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” In my heart I was aching for satisfaction and fulfillment through my marriage, not through my Maker and Savior. And when marriage didn’t satisfy, my mouth began to speak of the disappointment in my heart.


Now I can say that I am learning to have a much better perspective on my marriage. I have learned to never forsake my times with the Lord and to make it a point each morning to remember that my most important role is as a daughter of God. In this way, I can make sure that I am already filled to the brim with God’s love, so that when Jimmy’s love comes, I can enjoy it freely as the added gift and blessing that it is. And when his love is not there because of the struggles he is going through, instead of being angry by his lack of love, I can encourage him and help him through those hard times, because I already have all the love I need from God. This is what I would expect and hope from him when I come up short as a wife as well.


Now, there is much more freedom and joy for me at our concerts. Instead of being caught up in who is talking to my husband, or what is taking his attention away from me, I am able to ask the Lord how I can share His love with others. Sometimes that means encouraging other girls that are at our concerts, or sometimes that means encouraging Jimmy so that he can minister better. I am able to pray that God would give Jimmy words of encouragement for the people coming to talk to him, instead of being jealous for his attention. This is the team mentality that God desires for us in marriage. Not acting because of what we NEED or what we WANT, but acting in a way that helps our teammate to become more like Christ. And the ONLY way to do this is to be filled with the love of Christ, receiving it each day so that we can give it out to each other and to the world.

22 Comments

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  4. Although you’ve posted this years ago, I am also now married for almost a year and a half. At my kitchen-tea before my wedding, one of my friends blessed me with the following Scriptures: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the ways of them… For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee.” (Psalm 84:5, 11-12) Her message to me was that we should remember Who is the Source of our strength (“the LORD God”), and not to try and find our strength in our husbands. I put her card on my fridge as a constant reminder that it is unreasonable to expect my husband to be my strength, and that I need to find my strength in my Creator, Redeemer, Comforter and Friend, Jesus Christ. To me, it’s also a constant battle, and I can identify with your post so much, but as long as we remind ourselves to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth”, God will surely help us! (Colossians 3:2)
    I appreciate your honesty and sharing, and God has really blessed you with a way with words… Thank you for your encouragement, and many blessings to you!

  5. Cortney

    Kelly,
    I am so grateful for your honesty and encouragement. This July will be mine and my amazing husband’s 10 year wedding anniversary. I have struggled with this exact problem for too many years. Just this past year I finally was beginning to realize that my view on how much Love I thought I needed from my husband was this completely unrealistic amount that obviously he could never fill. I could not figure out why I felt like I needed so much from him! This type of attitude was setting my husband up for failure before he could even try. I am so blessed to have an incredible husband. He would often ask me, “What can I do to make you feel more loved?” I could never answer his question because I could not figure out why no matter how hard my husband tried to meet my every desire I still felt lacking! Wow, I have been so selfish! I now realize that I have been putting my marriage before MY GOD! I am now going to let My God satisfy me completely, so as you talked about that when my husbands “love comes I can enjoy it freely as the added gift and blessing that it is.” Thank you so much Kelly. I admire you more then you know!
    Cortney

  6. Larena

    I love this! Thank you for allowing God to use you.

  7. C.

    Thank You for writing your thoughts down here. They are SO TRUE and right, that I thougt, that God must love you very much, because He showed you your failures and lifted you up. You have a heart after God’s heart! God bless You!

    1. Anonymous

      Thanks so much Kelly for posting this! A HUGE encouragement to me as I know that marriage is an idol for me. Being single and satisfied in Christ alone is so vital, but difficult!

  8. Thank you so much Kelly for allowing God to speak through you and post this!! It is such incredible encouragement and reminder! I am not married yet, but this wisdom is only affirming the things that God has been saying to my heart about marriage. Blessings to you, Jimmy, and your adorable daughter!

  9. Grace

    Thank you so much for your transparency !! What you shared is such a blessing. I love the transition from “his concert” at the beginning to “our concerts” at the end !! This has given me food for my thoughts though I’m not yet married. But I believe this could apply to any situation in which we try to be fulfilled outside of God and we forget that we’re His daughters !! Many blessings to you and Jimmy !!

  10. Melissa

    I know this blog is a year old but I just came across your website and this post has been a huge blessing to me today. I’m in a relationship with a wonderful Christ-built man who strives so hard to learn what it means to love me like Christ loves the church and eventually “win” my heart over when it comes time to be married. And even though he tries so hard, i’ve realized the last few months that I find myself in the same situation: “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” My heart has been aching for satisfaction and fulfillment through building our relationship and preparing for marriage. And when I too didn’t feel satisfied, my heat and mouth spoke disappointment.

    Just recently I had been talking to a friend of mine who is single, and she was expressing to me how she has been longing to be in a relationship. She has been trying so hard to allow God to be her one true love and allow Him to satisfy this longing for a man. I told her that this time she has on her own is something to be cherished. I explained that this is the most intimate time for her and her Savior because it was just the two of them. There was no guy there to steal away her attention, or better yet, there was no guy there for her to give more of her attention to instead of the Lord. As I continued talking to her I found myself missing the relationship with Christ that I had back when I was single. It was just me and Him, it was beautiful. I’ve also realized the last few months the same thing that you did, I have been feeling so insecure and often times feeling completely unworthy of being with such a wonderful man of God. All around the same time I had my conversation with my girl-friend I remember God using a specific situation in my life to highlight that I was caring more about how my man valued me (and if I was feeling loved by him) OVER the Truth of how God valued me and loved me. I was crushed. And over the last few weeks Ive been wrestling this with the Lord. After reading your blog, it is clear that I have been putting my identity as a future wife over my identity as a daughter of God’s. No wonder my insecurities were intense. Ive been in the midst of an identity crisis! 🙂

    Thank you for your ministry to women! God bless!

  11. Kelly, my husband and I were married at the end of May, 2009, and have already been blessed with our second baby one month ago. Our relationship has been fast and furious. Not only do we have each other to focus on, but now two babies to raise, as well. I just read this post and the post about your new baby girl (congrats, by the way!). I am a worship leader at our church, and I want to be purposeful in my walk with Jesus so I can be as effective as possible in this ministry. However, it has become so easy for me to put time with Jesus aside in order to focus on everything else. Our marriage is struggling, and I find myself angry with my husband when he doesn’t give me all the love I need. I just want to thank you so much for your blog and the encouragement to put Jesus first (again!). I know I can trust Him to bring healing to the relationship, and in our individual hearts as well. Thank you both for your ministry… Jesus knew I needed to read your blog tonight! 🙂 Enjoy your precious little bundle!

  12. Diana

    thank you for this. I am not married but I hope that when I do I will remember not to find my identification and satisfaction in my husband or my children but in God my first love. truly this is beautiful. God bless you for sharing

  13. Alexis

    This is beautiful! I’m not married, but this is such wonderful wisdom for the future. I love how the picture you paint of marriage is not perfect. So many people get married expecting life to be pure bliss. What a rude awakening they must have when life kicks in. I also love how you talk about what a blessing it is! Such a balanced perspective 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

  14. This is so encouraging to me. Thank you! I have been married for almost two years and often think back to how filled up with God’s love I was before we were married. I struggle with this so much. God has been doing a huge work in my heart and bringing me to a place where my identity is in Him and He meets all my needs. It’s so encouraging to know I’m not the only one who has experienced this.
    Thank you!

  15. Alex

    I’m not a girl but that’s pretty awesome.

  16. Olivia

    Thank you so much for sharing! God really uses you. 🙂 I’ve struggled with falling in love with God before, and reading this helps me.

  17. Clara

    This was a beautifuk encouragement and a conformation of what God has been teaching me. Thankyou so much for taking the time to post this.

  18. Eva

    Thank you so much I really needed this. I’m not married yet but the one who I am currently dating is in the ministry. I have though about this before and said to myself I will cross that bridge (insecurity, identifying myself by who he is) when I get there. But through your post I have learned what I need to do before I get there.
    May God continue to bless your beautiful family, you both are truly an encouragement to so many young couples.

  19. DiAndrea J.

    Thank you Kelly for this. My husband and I married March 7 of last year and yes yes yes! It has been a struggle to keep Christ first and know my worth in Him. Thank you for this encouragement! God bless you for this ministry

  20. Allissa Buseman

    I have been married for 4 years…and I completely get what you’re saying. This has really ‘stepped on my toes’ and brought me back to the realization that my identity cannot be found in my relationships with my husband and son, but in Christ alone. Thank you so much for this eye opener.
    I want to say this also. I saw Jimmy live for the first time last summer at the Big Fish FM Summer Soundfest in Abermarle,NC. I have never met a musician more humble and down to earth. There was another band there that acted like they were being very gracious to stand and get a picture with their fans. Jimmy was talking to people like they were valued and appreciated. I was so extremely impressed by his Spirit. He is one of my favorite musicians and oddly enough, I’m wearing one of the t-shirts I bought from that particular concert:D Earlier on BigFish FM I heard the ‘Firefly’ song he wrote for you and that always makes me smile.
    Be blessed,Allissa

  21. Beautifully written and just what I was needing to read. May the Lord continue to bless your marriage.

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