Finding Prince Charming
by Varina Denman
As the youngest child in a large Christian family, I learned at an early age that someone would always be around to take care of me. My loving parents took my siblings and me to church three times a week, and we were raised with strict rules and high expectations. I went out of my way to be good, but when I hit the teen years, I tried to appear better than I was, sensing I couldn’t maintain the standards set by my family and myself.
As I began dating, my peers and the media convinced me a romantic relationship would bring happiness, and I searched for the perfect man to “complete me,” someone who could erase my feelings of inadequacy. By the time I met my husband, I had bought into the fairytale mentality that once I was married, my life mate would help me be everything I ought to be, and that we would live happily ever after.
Of course, things didn’t work out that way.
After a few years, my husband and I chose a difficult path when we decided I would stop working. I was home with the kids for long hours while he took on multiple jobs to provide for us. He was a wonderful father, but there was little time for date nights, or help with household chores, or even adult conversation.
I appreciated his sacrifice, but I became bitter because my life wasn’t the fairytale I had imagined. I let my appearance go because I was too exhausted to put on make-up or fix my hair or exercise, and while I felt the dream slipping, I tried extra hard to maintain the image of the perfect Christian family. Our church friends were fooled, but I knew the truth. My husband and I were little more than strangers in the same house.
I felt unattractive, worthless, and unloved, discovering I had a huge problem with insecurity. This baffled me. After all, I had everything—the husband, the children, the house in the suburbs—and I was supposed to have the self-esteem to go along with it. My logical mind searched for a reason to explain my pain, and the obvious explanation came to me: my husband wasn’t Prince Charming after all.
Well … of course he wasn’t.
He was a human being, not a fictional character, and it took me hitting rock bottom to notice. Instead of a prince, I had a strong Christian man—full of faults, mind you—but also full of love, determination, and noble intentions. Soon, the two of us went to counseling, sought advice from mentors, read every book on the subject, and gradually grew closer. We worked through our issues and fell in love all over again.
During the worst of it, a friend suggested I make a list of Bible verses, and when I couldn’t find it in my heart to believe I had worth, I read over those scriptures and remembered God would always love me. Slowly I came to realize I had put my husband on the pedestal where the Lord belonged. The poor man was never meant to be my savior, yet I had placed him above God. When I finally admitted that my first love—my true Prince Charming—was Christ and not my husband, my life story began to make sense.
“[God] alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 6:2
Today, my husband and I continue to study and pray together, and I’m constantly reminded that Christ is the only one who can fill my deepest needs. I realize how selfish I had been to spend so much time thinking about my pain, and so little time thinking about my husband. A relationship is meant to be two people working together as equal partners, and by giving to the other person (not taking), our self-worth is multiplied and our self-esteem strengthened.
After twenty-eight years, I’m still home with the kids, and my husband still works multiple jobs to provide for us, but I’ve found a balance in the madness by putting Christ first in my marriage. I no longer expect my husband to turn my life into a fairytale, and I no longer depend solely on him to boost my self-esteem. Whatever challenges bombard us, I’m confident we can fight through them together because we’re on the same team, and God is our captain.
Varina Denman lives in North Texas with her husband and five mostly-grown children. Her second book, Justified, tells the story of an insecure young woman who believes the right man could make all her troubles go away.
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