There is a funny State Farm Insurance commercial where a man is on the phone in the middle of the night with his insurance agent. Suddenly the man’s wife comes down in her bath robe asking in an accusatory tone who her husband is talking to. Her husband replies, “Jake, from State Farm.” The wife gets on the phone and says sarcastically, “What are you wearing, “Jake” from “State Farm?” The middle age man with a receding hairline on the other end of the lines says confusedly “…Ummm, a red shirt and khaki’s.” The woman hands the phone back to her husband and says, “She sounds hideous!”
In all its ridiculousness the commercial hits home for me. I have been that irrationally jealous woman for more than two decades of marriage. Good reason or not, I have been burdened with the stress and anger that accompany jealously since before Chris and I were even married, but this week that all began to change. Recently while reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I stumbled upon something. Dr. Covey talked about our “center;” that which defines who we are and how we see the world. He said that “Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom and power.” One center we can have is spouse centeredness. When I saw this sub-heading I knew that this was not going to be my center. I am in leadership, I’m pretty independent and I may have other misappropriated centers but spouse centeredness surely was not one of them. As I read on however, I came to the sad realization that in fact I am completely spouse centered. Covey defines spouse centeredness saying “If our sense of emotional worth comes primarily from our marriage, then we become highly dependent on that relationship. We become vulnerable to the moods and feelings, the behavior and treatment of our spouse, or to any external event that may impinge on the relationship –“ “Hi, my name is Laura and I’m in a co-dependent relationship.”
Like any relationship to a spouse, child, friend, habit, resource, or possession there are healthy and unhealthy levels of intimacy and dependence. What I have realized is my relationship to my husband is one based heavily on my self esteem struggles and on my fears. I don’t want him to ever leave us, not find me attractive or find him on the phone with Jake from State Farm… By finding or failing to find joy, happiness, personal worth and security based on Chris’ actions, opinions and responses, I have inadvertently set my husband up to fail and set myself up to be jealous, disappointed and fearful. It is easy to laugh at a crazy cat lady and an irrational woman with jealousy issues but sadly without Christ being the One who I look to for my worth and value I am really just both of those women with a little less nutty looking exterior (at least in public).
Dear Lord, thank you for beginning to free me from finding my identity and worth from anything other than you. I am sorry for the pressure and unrealistic demands I have put on Chris all these years. Lord help me to make You my center and to learn in your Word who I am in you (Psalm 139:13-14) (www.christianliferesources.com/article/your-true-identity-in-christ-seeing-yourself-as-god-sees-you-1121). Thank you Lord that in prayerfully moving toward a greater understanding of who I am in You that my relationship with my husband is richer, deeper and better than it was when I was looking to him to be my sense of worth and security. Thank you for the wonderful husband you have blessed me with and help me to continue to let go of jealousy, my critical spirit and failing to submit to Chris as unto You (Eph. 5:22). In Your Name, Amen.”