Magic City Momma is excited to share an excerpt from the newly released book, Married for Five Minutes: Hope for Living Inside Real-Life Marriages, by Shundria Riddick and Michelle Stimpson with a foreword by Chrystal Evans Hurst.
About the Book
A husband who won’t work. In-laws who let a nine-year-old watch inappropriate movies. A wife who’s been dishonest in bed.
Take a five-minute peek inside real marriages facing challenges that threaten to blur the reflection of Christ that marriage was created to be. Bestselling fiction author Michelle Stimpson teams up with Shundria Riddick, a licensed therapist, to tackle issues rarely discussed but frequently experienced—even in Christian marriages.
Each chapter paints a fictionalized behind-the-scenes picture of scenarios the authors have encountered through mentoring/counseling women, followed by biblically and professionally sound commentary. Readers will be encouraged to know that all marriages have tough seasons, and some marriages are simply more difficult than others throughout their entirety. Nonetheless, we can find encouragement and wisdom from our Heavenly Father to live victoriously after “I do.”
Chapter 1—Angry Spouse
Couple: Alyssa and Brian Kimbrough
Married: 14 years
Children: McKayla—age 14
Other: Two dogs
“Bye, Alyssa. Have a great weekend!” Jamie, her co-worker, sang as she headed past Alyssa’s bright, spacious corner office.
“You, too.” Alyssa waved at Jamie’s back, imagining what a ‘great weekend’ must be in Jamie’s world. Maybe a picnic at the park or a fun night at the movies with friends or her boyfriend.
Unlike Jamie’s probably spectacular weekend, Friday through Sunday at the Kimbrough household consisted mainly of Alyssa going to McKayla’s dance competitions and practices. Alyssa was dedicated to McKayla’s dance career, which they hoped would lead to college scholarships and maybe even a glamorous career as a professional performing artist. Sports teams, Vegas, Broadway—all viable options for a young lady as talented as McKayla.
Alyssa packed her attaché with a few client files and headed home to make dinner before McKayla and Brian arrived, and before she and her daughter had to attend the evening’s practices. The dance troupe usually rehearsed longer on Friday nights.
An hour later, Alyssa finished the spaghetti and took the bread from the oven. The mouthwatering aroma of garlic and butter filled her nostrils. Her mom used to cook like this seven days a week…before she was killed by a drunk driver when Alyssa was a senior in college.
Her mom, stolen from her. Just like that.
Alyssa heard the door swing open and waited to determine who was entering. A few seconds later, Alyssa was certain it was Brian because she’d heard the car keys slam on the coffee table. She heard the grunting as he took off his work boots. And not a word had been spoken to her.
If he doesn’t want to talk to me, I don’t want to talk to him, either.
Alyssa made herself a plate and sat at the kitchen table. She blessed her food, then began enjoying the scrumptious meal all by herself. Today was just like any other day in their household.
Brian showered and then came back to the living room. Alyssa could see his feet elevated in his favorite lounge chair.
After finishing her meal, she rinsed her plate, fork, and glass at the sink.
Brian entered the kitchen. “Spaghetti again?” He opened the refrigerator. “What else is there to eat?”
Alyssa refused to answer. Jerk. She loaded her dishes into the sink.
If only I were so lucky. “You don’t have to eat the spaghetti if you don’t want to.”
“You wouldn’t have to cook only spaghetti if you’d take a class and learn how to cook something else. My mom cooked a ton of different things. Steak, chicken, veal. Not just spaghetti.”
“My mom cooked a lot of things, too, before she died,” Alyssa cut him off.
Brian closed the refrigerator door. He rolled his eyes as he made his way toward the pot of spaghetti, plate in hand. “Are you going to use that excuse forever?”
“It’s not an excuse!”
“It is when the incident happened more than fifteen years ago. You’re a big girl now. And I do mean big girl.” He chuckled slightly. “I don’t know how you keep gaining weight when all you cook is stuff from the kids’ menu at restaurants.” He piled his plate with spaghetti and took a forkful into his mouth. “Needs more salt.”
Brian grabbed the salt from the pantry and shook seasoning onto his plate. “If you’re going to make one dish over and over again, at least get it right.”
I can’t stand you. I wish I’d never met you. The words were right on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak them. She’d seen Brian angry before. Really angry. And it wasn’t pretty. He hadn’t hit her, but he’d gotten all up in her face, yelling and screaming that no woman was going to disrespect him in his own home.
Instead, Alyssa left the kitchen. She went to her bedroom, and waited for McKayla to come home so she could escape the negative, hateful words of the man who’d promised before God and witnesses to “cherish” her.
What a joke.
When we enter marriage, our hearts are full of expectations. Although we might have participated in premarital counseling, read books, attended many conferences, and been told about the issues in marriages, we still created lofty expectations and required our spouses to fulfill those dreams. Sure you mention what you want in marriage. But the magnitude of the expectations is far greater than you yourself can even express. Unbeknownst to your spouse, they are being held responsible for responses or behaviors they are unaware of. Truth be told: Many of us aren’t even aware of the depth of expectation until we enter the marriage and become disappointed in our spouses when we feel that our needs aren’t met. Rarely do we search within ourselves to identify the root of our expectations. If we did, we would realize that many of them began before we’d met the one we have vowed to love until death do us part.
Some expectations entering marriage are due to falling in love with the potential of our mates. We see some sign of them having the ability to be responsible, nurturing, honor commitment, and pursue productivity without actually witnessing the evidence. Some of us may even think we can love this potential into materialization. If they never meet this potential or indicate an unwillingness to work toward fulfillment, frustration sets in and feeds anger until it grows into resentment. It is unreasonable to expect love to change an individual when they are not motivated to make the choices for themselves.
How we are parented, our childhood experiences, adulthood experiences, dating, biblical knowledge, etc., have all formed our expectations of the marital relationship and our spouses. Deciding if they are appropriate does not become part of our thought processes until they are not met, questioned or challenged. We rarely run them through prayer to examine whether they are appropriate or selfish in nature.
In Alyssa and Brian’s situation, it appears there are feelings of disappointment that have led to anger and a need to retaliate towards each other. Alyssa may have needs associated with Brian’s lack of compassion regarding her losing her mother. Brian may have needs associated with feeling like he does not get enough attention from Alyssa since she has all but devoted her life to McKayla’s potential dance career. He may also feel disrespected and unneeded in his own household. As a result of both spouses’ unmet needs, the evidence of this disappointment can be heard in their sarcasm and seemingly constant need to insult each other. Unknowingly they are communicating to their daughter this disappointment which negatively impacts her relationship with them both. McKayla will likely develop a propensity towards anger and poor expectations in her relationships with men.
The thing about anger is that it’s never what it appears to be. Anger is actually a secondary emotion. Something happened that triggered a feeling. The feeling was then followed by anger. Anger can be expressed as depression, retaliation, sarcasm, bitterness, etc. We must examine what initiated the feeling in order to address the root issue.
Alyssa and Brian have rehearsed their disappointment of the other so often in their thoughts, they’ve justified the mistreatment of each other. Each has failed to realize that in hurting the other, they are damaging the relationship both are responsible for nurturing.
Communicating the feelings of hurt and disappointment is vital to establishing a healthier relationship. Although it is important to express these expectations, it is also important to examine them. Is what I’m asking of my spouse appropriate? Is it selfish? Am I expecting behavior that we’ve never demonstrated? Am I expecting my spouse to heal a hurt that only God can heal? Am I placing the responsibility for my happiness solely on my spouse? Am I willing to give to my spouse what I am expecting from him?
It is essential that both Brian and Alyssa cease from feeding their anger with thoughts of disappointment and frustration. This can be addressed through routine self-exploration. Continuing to validate their enmity only clouds their eagerness to meet each other’s needs—an eagerness that could provide healing and restoration. If their attempts of self-exploration prove difficult and ineffective, it is important that they seek the assistance of a counselor. Through professional guidance, both can address inappropriate expectations and negative thinking that have infiltrated their relationship.
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