Our marriages are designed to be as colorful as the vibrant changes of Fall. The colors that contrast each other come together into one beautiful picture. Just like how two different souls find a way to become one flesh. When that oneness happens, it is such a beautiful picture of love. So men, love your wives fiercely. Women, respect your husbands with the same fierceness. Allow the picture that nature paints to become a reality in your marriage. Take in the beauty and discover how colorfully beautiful your marriage can be.
Yes, those 3 words can be hard! While sleeping one night, God spoke to me and all He said was “Just Love Her.” (Eph 5:25 NLT- For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.) That’s all I heard from Him. As I woke up in bed after this, I was confused and perplexed. What did “just love her” actually mean and why would God tell me this? Let’s see, I love my wife every day and do pretty much all I can to help her with whatever she needs, so why would God tell me this so clearly? As if He was speaking to little old me in neon lighting? You see, I like to think that my wife is my partner in everything and that what happens to her also happens to me. When she is down, hurt, suffering, lonely, weak, etc., I am the one who is there for her. It comes almost naturally to me. She depends on me to be there for her and I likewise, depend on her to be there for me. My wife lives with chronic pain from several spinal surgeries. Her bones and soft tissue are degrading faster than most people her age. I knew this would be something that would be in our reality earlier than most marriages and I promised both her and God that I was up for the task. As such, I believe this is why I was able to retire young and her, as well. Yet, I do find myself sometimes stuck in the monotony of it all, every so often. So, truthfully, I can say to myself that I am doing all that I can to help her, but am I really from my heart doing these things? Galatians 6:9 says “So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” When God told me to “just love her”, I asked God again to help me understand what that meant. Sometimes, it takes more than a neon sign to make me understand! God then revealed to me that sometimes its not just about helping your spouse daily or making sure all is going well. Sometimes, you better expect a trial to happen and be ready to fight it! Honestly, as much as I dislike trials in our marriage, I also understand that this is when our marriage is strengthened the most. Even more, this is when I am personally strengthened the most!
Right around the time that God spoke these words to me, my wife started having a physical trial. Her right eye was injured and was not recovering. After 7 long months, we both finally surrendered that it may never be healed and maybe this would be her “thorn in the flesh” as an ambassador for Christ. My, how this revelation changed each of our perspectives. However, those 7 months of getting to this revelation were relentlessly hard, on each of us. For her, it was a battle with trusting God with her healing and understanding that God wasn’t mad at her. That she hadn’t let Him down in some way. For me, it was releasing control to God to care for my wife, whom I strive to fix everything for. It was a heavy dose of humility for me. See, God wants us both to rely on Him and He knows exactly how to get that across to each of us, individually. As far as I am concerned, God doesn’t waste our trials on just one of us; they are for both my wife and myself.
So, what does “just love her” mean? It means allowing my wife to say whatever she wants to me, and to listen with understanding and compassion. If I am considerate toward Janie, she will likewise be considerate toward me. It also means that no matter how frustrated I get with her physical ailments, I must love her as Christ loved the Church. Paul says it clear in Eph 5:25, that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. We must all knock down our barriers to love and pull up our sleeves, not to fight Christ, but to embrace LOVE for our spouse. So, husbands, just love your wives and wives just love your husbands. Let today be the day you let down your walls and you have an honest conversation with one another and choose together to pursue Christ in marriage.
God’s word says we are to love our wives, as our own bodies. What a high calling He gives us! Yet, if I’m honest, loving her seems to be the easy part. I can listen to her & hopefully fulfill her needs. Yet, when things get tough, I start to question myself. Don’t let the enemy fill you with thoughts of inadequacy. Listen to your wife! Janie reminds me daily that she sees God in me. Although, I may be reluctant to believe her at times, no one knows me like she does. And when I’m feeling less than, I’m thankful to have her to remind me that I am leading our family well. That they see Jesus in me. That God is the anchor in each of our lives. So, go live your life! Pursue Christ & see what happens. You will be sustained & fulfilled.
As a husband, I often find myself stuck in stubbornness as a result of pride. When this happens, I have trouble hearing from God, others and unfortunately, from my spouse. Husbands, can you relate?
See, I know that I am called by God to be the leader of our family, spiritually and beyond. And often, I think I am doing a great job in this role, until something occurs that helps me see the speck in my own eye. Please understand, I am not one that is overly self-critical. I don’t necessarily lack in confidence when it comes to certain things. Nor am I the guy that beats himself up too much for the daily mistakes I make. Thankfully, I know that God’s grace is sufficient. Yet, if I am being honest, sometimes I can hide behind that grace and try to ride on its coattails, rather than do a deep introspection of my own behavior and responses. That is, until God decides that these need to be exposed.
For me, nothing can expose more to me the areas in which I may be lacking, than a complaint from my wife. If my wife is feeling inadequate or she’s lacking faith, I feel like I am the one that has failed. Yet, her complaints aren’t really complaints, but merely are expressions of what she desires for and from me.
The problem is that I perceive any constructive criticism I receive from her, others, and even God, as complaints. Essentially, what I hear is that I am not good enough. That I have failed in some way. That I am not living up to what is expected of me. Yet, when I take the time to eventually bring these things to the Lord, when I choose to let down my defenses, I actually hear His truth. His truth reveals to me that I am not perfect and that I am not without sin. That I have a constant need for my Savior. This folks, is not weakness or inability. This is me, an imperfect son of the Most High, in need of His correction, no matter who He uses to show me, just how much.
I am convinced that the enemy wants me to feel “less than” and like I am doing a horrible job. And he also wants me to make sure that everyone knows that I am NOT less than and I am NOT doing a horrible job! He tempts me to shout it from the rooftops! I am innocent! I am a GREAT father and husband! What the enemy wants is for me to be prideful of what I have already done. To be able to use the good moments from the past to make up for the present. What a deception! Unfortunately, I am often a willing participant in his ploys. I want to believe that I do not need to change or grow; that I am just fine the way that I am.
Proverbs 11:2 says that “pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” I never wish for my actions to lead to disgrace. I do crave wisdom from the Lord! Yet, my flesh and my upbringing often take over these desires. I can pick myself up with telling myself that I am not a bad guy. That I don’t do what other husbands do. I am doing a mighty fine job!
But if I am honest, nothing closes off conviction more than conceit.
Is it possible that God has placed my wife in my life to be the person He uses to help me along and keep me on task? Truly, I do believe He has placed her just in this place. I know He uses me to help her grow, so why wouldn’t He use her to help me grow? She always encourages me and reassures me that I am enough and that I do indeed lead our family well.
Janie and I talk a lot about sanctification. How God has used our marriage trials to set us apart, for His glory. Not everyone can air their dirty laundry and feel okay with it. But we know that we are called to do this, not to promote our growth, but to promote the growth that comes from the Lord!
We are still learning. I am still learning. It has become clear to me that humility is not a character weakness, but rather a place from which God can take the things that need strengthening into submission to Him. The antidote to defensiveness is accepting responsibility. Accepting that I am not perfect. Accepting that I will always be in need of a Savior, guiding me and growing me. And that my defensiveness should not me by response, but that, being teachable needs to be my desire.
Men, my challenge to you is that will seek the Lord in helping you grow. That you would hear your wife when she talks. Not as a complaint, but as opportunity to meet her needs and strengthen your own relationship with Christ, as well as your relationship with your spouse.
How often do you give your wife encouragement? Is it only when something big is upon her or do you make it a daily habit?
I have been married to my wife for over two decades and I can honestly admit that for the first decade of our marriage, I was lacking as an encourager. I can practically count the times on my hands when I gave her encouragement. For instance, when she wanted to go back to college to get her Master’s Degree, I offered plenty of encouragement, but if I am being honest, I would say that encouragement was for my own benefit. The more she worked on her career, the better off I would be financially. I know this makes me sound very shallow and worldly, but this is about as transparent as I can be.
When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior over a decade ago, He began to transform my heart and my thoughts. He grabbed a hold of me and went to work! See, I was deeply in love with my wife. Yet, I did not understand that many of the goals and ideas that I brought into our marriage were rooted in anything but Christ. Yes, I was a great provider; I went to work each day and helped with raising our children and with errands. Yet, when it came down to offering compassion and encouragement to my wife, I often failed. We were both busy in our careers and raising our sons and we were lucky to keep our heads above water. We allowed the busyness of life to take away our focus on each other and our marriage. My mindset was that as long as my wife and I had “teamwork” in our marriage, then we had a good enough marriage. Boy did meeting Jesus personally open my eyes to how much we both were fixated on the wrong things. And He told me to drop everything and follow Him. What? How?
Well, you see, Jesus has taught me a thing or two about encouragement. In scripture, we read how Jesus encouraged His disciples. Jesus even told His disciples to love sinners (Matthew 9:10-11). That’s right, a sinner just like me. We are all sinners. If Jesus can forgive our sins and encourage us to follow Him, then why can’t we encourage our wife when she is down and on hard times?
Sometimes I tend to believe that my wife should think identically to me. Yes, she often has the same issues as I do and we often have the same routine, but let me assure you, she does not think identically to me. Her needs are different. She is also called to a different role than I am, biblically. Thus, she will often see things differently than I. She won’t always agree with what I agree with. You see, sometimes, my wife is fragile, yet I want her to be as tough as I am. This is not what God wants, though. God created man in Genesis 1:26, but man was not yet complete. Man needed a help-mate, essentially an encourager, so we see in Genesis 2:21 that God created woman. Now, man was complete. He had his perfect help-mate. I know how thankful I am that God has given me my perfect complement, my encourager. She is a gracious gift from God. I am thankful for her, even though I wasn’t always the greatest encourager to her. This is how Jesus has transformed me. No longer do I take my wife for granted or view her as an inconvenience. I love to encourage my wife as often as I can to be a godly woman. I can say the simplest thing to her and her face will beam with joy.
So, men, I encourage you to start encouraging your wives as much as possible. Let the words you say to your wife be for building her up (Ephesians 4:29). Let her know that you really see her. Set aside all of your own pride, stubbornness and anger and openly encourage your wife. I promise you that even a small amount of positive encouragement towards your wife will not only bring her joy, but joy to you too.