Is this standing in the way of your dream marriage?

Guest Post: Janel Breitenstein is a married mother of 4 who writes frequently for FamilyLife. Janel and her husband John currently serve with eMi in Uganda. You can visit her blog at www.agenerousgrace.com

Maybe you already know what it is. You know: that one thing. It’s one thing that, like an arm in a cast, its layered hardness immobilizing you from totally embracing your spouse.

Maybe you’re like me; I didn’t even realize it was there. But still, it was a silent, mildly bitter seed I’d unwittingly nurtured when it niggled at me. Sometimes it was watered by a bad day that couldn’t keep pace with my vision of what life could be like if only.

My own Thing was woven so tightly with my dreams for my future that I didn’t realize I’d subtly turned my disappointment on my husband. I’d so wanted to “make a difference” in the world that, ten years into marriage and standing behind a picket fence with four kids and a dog in suburbia, I felt bowled over by monotony and my failed expectations of what my “big” life would be like.

God had a lot to do in me so that I would fully accept my husband—and God’s purposes in my life—in holistic faithfulness whether the issue was resolved…or not. In that area, I was guilty of cherishing my dream more than my husband. (In an unexpected twist, we are now living in Uganda. My husband and I laughed out loud about the “Afro-disiac” that supercharged our romance due to my satisfaction.)

For some, it’s that thing that makes you wonder, Did I marry the right person? It might hover while you’re alone—washing the dishes, or maybe driving—thinking about your marriage. It might find you drawn to other guys, or other women. It may stand between you in the majority of your arguments, whispering in your ear when your mate does something completely unrelated (but still annoying). Maybe it follows you into the bedroom. It could be what makes you hold back, just a little—not telling all, not giving all, not baring all.

Like me, yours might be a dream you held so close to your heart, now indefinitely unrealized because of some factor in your marriage. Perhaps it’s how many kids you wanted (or didn’t), a degree, a career, a level of financial security. Maybe it’s an issue you’re constantly (dis)agreeing to disagree on. It could be the “one that got away”—that one person from your past that sometimes you dream about a little (or could it be what that person represents?). Could be a character flaw that rears its ugly head over and over. Maybe it’s that weight that he or she just won’t be disciplined to lose, or the interest he or she won’t take in the kids, or the way your extended family is treated. It could be an event in the past whose pain is just too great to forgive.

What’s that one thing?

Perhaps more importantly, why is it the one thing? And why does it remain the one thing?

God has a powerful thought on this. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you—i.e. completely—in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15:7).

Maybe at first glance, this just seems too trite. It’s one of those Yeah, dude. Easier said than done things. Or If only He knew.

But that’s the idea, right? Doesn’t He know?

That little word, accept, came at a pretty sky-high personal cost. He didn’t just set His anger aside because it wasn’t a big deal He was feeling magnanimous. He was utterly justified in His One Thing, the Thing that kept us from an embrace. Talk about righteous indignation! Our repeated offense drove the ultimate wedge, capsizing the dream of what our relationship could be like. Whatever your One Thing is…I guarantee His case is better.

So He decided to absorb the cost—Himself. He didn’t say it wasn’t a cost. Didn’t pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. And we still needed rehabilitated, restored: His absorption of our guilt meant we were freed up to work on the Problem together. But He did do what it takes to bring us in close, to rip the veil between us.

So now…the question remains.

Will you?