I won’t come off well at the beginning of this story. But that’s OK. The lesson it illustrates is worthy of the disclosure of my bad form.
For several months, I ruminated and criticized my husband over accumulated small stuff until the small stuff didn’t seem so small. My tendency to memorialize his mistakes blinded me from recognizing the progress my husband was making and kept me from supporting him as I should. This happened in thought, mostly, but also in conversation when I would talk about him to my girlfriends.
One morning I encountered this passage as I studied the Bible: “[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (I Corinthians 13:5-7, New International Version).
I had read this before, but now the second sentence particularly spoke to me. Looking at the Greek words found in the Bible, I found the original meaning can be read as “Love doesn’t memorialize, publicize, or hold onto iniquity, but memorializes, publicizes, and holds onto the truth.”
I felt a message from God showing me my need and pointing out how to do better. Through my study of the Bible and Christian Science I came to know God as divine Love (see I John 4:8) and that our purpose is to express Him in being loving. I could see that I had been doing exactly the opposite of what Love demands and of what Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated, which is to love. I was memorializing and publicizing problems, and it had to stop. It misrepresented my true desire to be a good, supportive wife, and it was dishonoring my husband and marriage.
I had signed onto this marriage to love and support my husband, and this to me meant being a lifelong witness to his true, spiritual nature as the reflection of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27). A good witness maintains a clear focus on, and testifies to, only what is spiritually true, enduring, and indestructible – what is from God. I had seen before that this kind of witnessing shows us more and more the spiritual good that is truly here, and shuts down what is inappropriate and doesn’t belong.
A constantly critical witness is not a true witness. Memorializing evil can tend to magnify evil until we no longer see good or hope for progress. I saw that I needed to protect my husband and marriage from criticism and, instead of magnifying problems, to memorialize every evidence of good I could find. Most important, I needed to pray to discern my husband’s spiritual identity – which, because its source is God, is entirely good (see Genesis 1:31).
My prayers led me to ask my girlfriends for their help in keeping me alert to stop the ruminating and bashing, even if done under the guise of lightheartedness. This was a huge help. But more than this, prayer showed me my husband’s true identity as God’s spiritual, perfect creation, and I began to see more and more evidence of man’s inherent goodness expressed in myself, my husband, and our marriage. I was able to notice very specifically all the good in my husband and all the reasons to be hopeful about our progress as a couple.
Perseverance in thinking and acting in ways more in line with our pure, spiritual nature has led to much healing. I now feel that I am a better, happier wife and that I have a better, happier husband – probably, in part, because he has a better, happier wife!
Since this healing, I have a deeper understanding and appreciation of Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy’s wise words on the subject of marriage in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Our false views of life hide eternal harmony, and produce the ills of which we complain” (p. 62). And “Honesty and virtue ensure the stability of the marriage covenant. Spirit will ultimately claim its own, – all that really is, – and the voices of physical sense will be forever hushed” (p. 64).