If you are not a Christian, I hope that you can get something out of this post. More importantly, I also hope that you see that the Christian world-view, especially when it comes to marriage, is a good thing.
After 15 years of marriage, our relationship was, I guess, like most others, if I was entirely honest. We fluctuated through both the good and the survivable, but as things got on, it was more about having a survivable ‘relationship’ rather than a good one. There were disappointments, words that could not be taken back, and the realisation that your spouse isn’t perfect, and that those traits that you find frustrating, aren’t going to change. Perhaps, I thought, the best I could hope for, is to survive them. After all, it’s not bad, but its just not…well… great.
So at the start of the year, I did some soul searching and thought about what I could do about this. I could have chosen to just put up with it and ‘survive’ marriage. But the more I thought on it, the more I decided that there must be something else I can do. What do I have to lose?
Whilst, I realised that I couldn’t ‘fix’ my spouse, and I wasn’t sure that I could ‘fix’ my marriage, there was one thing I could ‘fix’, and that was myself as a husband. I went back to the Bible and looked at its instructions to husbands, which is not hard because it is pretty much:
“Husbands, love your wives” (Eph 5:28, Col 3:19, sort of 1 Peter 3:7)
But what does that actually mean? There are a lot of good books out there on the subject, so I started reading. I remember reading one book that gave me options and I asked my wife about it. She gave me answers that I didn’t expect which made me stop and realise two important things. Firstly, I was working on assumptions that I had been living with for 15 years but were wrong. Secondly, and more importantly, there was a better source of information on how to love my wife than from books: my own wife!
So I set out an experiment: I asked the same question every day:
“What’s one thing I can do today to make you feel loved?”
It’s a scary question, because it is like writing a blank cheque, but if I can’t do this for my wife, well what is the point of being married anyway? The funny thing is that the answers are surprisingly easy, at least so far.
But here are the rules:
- When she gives you something to do, do it. I know it’s obvious, but don’t let it drop off your radar, make it happen.
- Keep it as “one thing”, because let’s face it, we can only do one thing at a time!
- You have to ask “…feel loved”. You love your wife, but she needs to know that. And I think I am right in saying that when she needs to know it, she needs to feel it.
- You need to ask everyday. Even if the answer is the same. Most spouses, if they have a complaint is that they are taken for granted. Doing this every day shows you don’t want to take them for granted.
- You can’t expect reciprocation. This is not about doing this so you can get something out of it, it is about you becoming a better spouse. It might happen, it might not.
- This is not all there is to loving your wife. But it’s a good start.
If you are a wife and you are reading this and thinking “this is great, I should send this to my husband” then I am sorry, you have completely missed the point. This is not about you ‘fixing’ your spouse, it is about working on yourself as a spouse. There is a lot of research that point out that wives cannot live in a marriage without love, yet husbands can. Husbands, on the other hand, cannot live in a marriage without respect1. Feldhahn, Shaunti, and Jeff Feldhahn. For Men Only. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2006. and Eggerichs, Emerson. Love and Respect. [S.l.]: Integrity Publishers, 2005.. You may want to change the question to “What’s one thing I can do to help you today?” Or “what’s one thing I can do today to help you feel respected?” I don’t really know, I’m still working on the husband bit. You may be surprised that it isn’t going to be about sex, at least not all the time!
If you are a husband, then why not join me in the experiment and let me know how it is going? What’s stopping you? If you are afraid of writing a blank cheque, let me encourage you that you may be certainly surprised. If you are afraid of failing, let me tell you, you will. You will forget, you will make mistakes. Man up, get some scars, admit your mistakes, ask for forgiveness and repent.
Really, what have you got to lose?
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||1. Feldhahn, Shaunti, and Jeff Feldhahn. For Men Only. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2006. and Eggerichs, Emerson. Love and Respect. [S.l.]: Integrity Publishers, 2005.|