We stood at the front of the church, and all I could think about was, finally.
Finally I would be married to my best friend and the most amazing man I’d ever met. Before the wedding, well meaning people kept telling me, it’s a lot of work, and you don’t know what you’re getting into and it’s not all roses. Like most infatuated brides, I could barely hide my mental eye rolling over their comments. It might be true for them, but it just didn’t apply to us. We were ready to teach the whole world how to love each other well through the decades.
Oh yes, I was a naïve little thing.
Seven years and three lively kids later (plus a miscarriage and a career change for each of us), we are still pretty darn crazy about each other. But the newness has rubbed off, and the ring has lost it’s brand new shine. We are deep in the middle of play doh and play dates, teaching the alphabet and manners, potty training and sibling wars. Superman is a natural with kids, and me? Well, it’s what I do now, all day, every day. I live and breathe diapers and dinosaurs and T-Ball and tutus. For better or worse, my life is pretty much wrapped up in the sticky hands of the Oompah Loompahs.
It’s easy to make our lives all about the kids and lose sight of the him+me that started us out.
Anybody else in that boat? I am so challenged to do better about this. In all the good parent stuff, I’ve forgotten how to be a good wife. He is so much fun, and I miss out on the joy of laughing with him when I insist on my agenda. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that my plans aren’t the only valid ones. I used to be spontaneous, but the diaper bag filled with sippy cups and graham crackers and hand wipes and spare outfits all but crushes that fun-loving girl.
I want her back.
Surely, there can be a balance between investing in the kids and investing in our marriage. So, I’m committing right here (and you can too, if you want!) to spending the next 7 days being an intentional wife. I’m going to prioritize him when I plan the meals (I see Philly Cheesesteak Subs in our near future!), when I do the laundry (keeping up on his socks and tee shirts shouldn’t be THAT impossible, right?), and when I fill the calendar (because if we’re exhausted and cranky from overscheduling, I have nothing but overstimulated kids and a whining wife to share at the end of the day.) If you want to join me, let me know! I’ll send you a daily challenge for 7 Days of Loving The Man.
He is worth the effort to love well.
Really, he is. Loving him is not about my convenience, it’s about a promise I made for easy and for…not. They weren’t just words we spoke at the front of that church, they were about the choices we promised to make, day in and day out. In the dirty socks and morning breath and frizzy hair and period days. In the mundane, alarm clock and sick kids days, as well as the newlywed dancing on sunshine days.
I think it’s easy to lose sight of what drew us to our spouse in the first place. He is one incredible man, and I need to pause more often on that fact. I don’t ever want to take him for granted, but it’s easy, isn’t it? Self focus is the poison of marital happiness, and yet, it’s easy to start sipping on it.
Can’t he see that I want a back rub?
Can’t he see that I’m tired?
Why doesn’t he bring flowers anymore?
He never just gazes into my eyes and tells me how beautiful I am anymore.
Satan is out to get our marriages, ladies.
He is sniffing out your weaknesses, and he will exploit them. He doesn’t want you grateful for your husband. He doesn’t want you content with your spouse. He doesn’t want you to love. He wants you to stop communicating, stop being thankful, stop being kind in the little things. He wants you to disconnect your Christianity from your marriage. Nothing will send him into fits faster than looking out not only for your own interests, but the interests of your husband, too. He wants you polite to strangers and snapping your spouse’s head off all the time. He wants your home full of eye rolls, cold shoulders, and selfishness. He wants you to drink deeply of hurts and bitterness and unhealthy coping.
Loving your spouse is only possible when you are filled up on the love of Jesus.
Those needs we have? The buck doesn’t stop with your husband. Only Jesus can fill the needs of our hearts, and we can trust Him with them. Instead of whining to myself about Superman’s failure to read my mind and know I want a back rub, I can pray for God to give me a gentle heart and a servant’s spirit. And then, when I remember to communicate my desire for a back rub, my tone won’t be demanding and filled with entitlement. How often do I set us up for misunderstanding just by failing to have a right heart with God before approaching my man? I can ask Jesus to fill me with His love, so that I am not asking Superman for the impossible. Only God can love us enough to fill our hearts. Our husbands are wonderful, but their love will never be enough all on its own.
Prayer is our secret weapon, our ace-in-the-hole when frustration and tiredness threaten to rock the boat of marital bliss. Pray, pray, pray for that man, and pray for his wife to be the kind of help meet that he needs. And yes, go ahead and pray for God to make him the man you need, too. Pray that you will love each other unselfishly. Get specific, girl! Ask Him to give you kind words instead of mean ones, ask Him to help you smile at your man instead of launching straight into your agenda. Whatever you do, make sure you pray!
All that being said, the burden to have a good marriage is not yours or mine to carry.
I just want to put that out there, that if you’re following hard after Jesus and loving your man authentically (not perfectly, but consistently trying) – then you’re doing all that you can and should. If you still don’t have the marriage you want to have, then get back on your knees. Pray hard. Seek Godly counsel. Don’t give up. And don’t take it as a personal failure if your marriage still needs a lot of growth. God isn’t done with either of you yet!!!
Grace, peace, and INTENTIONALLY loving him for a lifetime,
**Important note: I am only speaking about non abusive relationships. If your husband is physically or emotionally abusive, please get immediate help from the authorities and your church. Do not stay in a dangerous situation.**