“You’re not the woman I married,” he said to me yesterday. “The woman I married was fearless. What has happened to you?”
“I had children,” I said. “They changed me. The only thing I really fear in life is having something happen to them.”
This was a snippet of our conversation after an incident with one of our children. (Nothing happened, but it was the whole idea of what could have happened. I know other mothers will understand.) But his question really made me reflect on marriage and how I have morphed in our years together.
I have settled up with a lot of the emotional issues that I brought into our marriage, although there are some battles that will always wage war on my mind and heart. I am much more compassionate. And, though it may be hard for some of you to believe, I am much more guarded in my speech than I was 15 years ago. I am not so prone to arguing these days. I seek peace, not war.
I seek solitude, and I think that may confuse him at times. I was the social butterfly when we met. I was the light in the room. Now, I am happiest at home, creating, knowing that my family is within reach. You see, I don’t have a void in me any longer that requires me to seek attention from outside sources. My family is all I want, all I need–that and my quiet coffee time in the morning.
I’ve also learned that I prefer to be where I can best be myself without facing the judgment of others, without worrying about having my words and my intentions twisted. I’ve noticed that people just think they want me to change. After they’ve finally succeeded in changing me, they wonder what has happened to me. When I’m no longer the girl who speaks her mind, who seeks to right the wrongs, who is the champion of the underdog, then I’m no longer the girl they knew. When you take the passion out of me, I am just a shell of that girl.
Thankfully, my husband has always sought to teach me to retain my passion but to control it instead of allowing it to control me. In his youth, he trained horses. He knows the value of controlled passion. He also knows that it is a lot of work and effort, but the end result is so worth it.
They say that when you spend years with someone, you become like them. I believe what my husband is witnessing is that I am portraying some of his own qualities these days. He is my hero. He is who I most want to be like. But he is so different than me–quiet, stoic, strategic.
Between God molding me into the person that I need to be (as a mom, wife, and pastor’s wife) and my own desires for who I want to be as an individual, it does result in some breaking down at times. But if you are careful with me, if you are patient with me, I promise that you will be amazed at the butterfly that will emerge. I succeed. That’s what I do. I just do it differently than most people.
No, I am not the woman that he married 15 years ago. And that’s not a bad thing.
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Melinda Martin is bad at writing about herself in third person. She has invested many hours worth of mistakes into building The Helpy Helper, where she offers independent publishing services, graphic design, and a myriad of other services on request. But her first love has always been writing, and she still finds time to contribute to the blogosphere at Musings of a Ministers Wife.