I am sensitive to the variety of life stages among the readers of this blog. Some of you are married. Some happily. Some not. A lot of you are single—some longing for marriage, some content. Some of you have been abused by your husband. You placed your trust in him and he squandered it, wounding you deeply in the process. Some of you lost a beautiful love, and the pain of that loss is real every day. For all those reasons, I hesitate to post this. Yet, I think, even in light of the variety of our life experiences, it is ok, even good, to admit THIS DAY that God has given me a precious gift in my husband. I am a well-loved wife.
I have not always FELT well loved in my marriage. My experience has confirmed to me the value of Gary Chapman’s assessment of the Five Love Languages. My husband and I both fumbled our early years together. There were many mistakes. Many times, we projected onto each other what we THOUGHT was happening based on our own ignorant assumptions. We each brought our own baggage into the relationship and still must work not to project onto each other latent fears from our individual upbringings. But most of all, we were often oblivious to the other’s attempts to accommodate and serve each other. I need words of affirmation. My husband flourishes under acts of service. He served me well when I was sick, working hard to provide for our family. But it took YEARS for me to recognize that as manifestations of his love for me. He has since learned to speak words of affirmation to me. Tonight, he said some beautiful words to me that made me feel appreciated. Respected. Loved. After a hard day, worn out after house cleaning and child rearing, his words of affirmation and acknowledgement were very meaningful.
We are reaching the witching hours of marriage—we’ll be married 13 years this summer. And I am not ignorant of the marriage strains this stage of life puts on us both. But here are some principles that God has worked in my heart over the years to which I am looking for future hope.
1) Andy can’t meet my deep heart needs. There is a desire placed in me in creation for God, and the curse is that it gets misplaced on my husband with horrible results. This desire placed on my husband is insatiable. I have needs he simply does not have the resources to meet if he tried nonstop 24/7. And most men are not going to try nonstop 24/7. Instead, I first acknowledge my very real needs. I really do need to feel loved, valued, and affirmed. I NEED that! And God, in Christ, has spoken over me great words of love, has spoken clearly of my value to Him (it cost Him His Son!!), and has affirmed me by naming me a co-heir with His Son. That is absolutely unbelievable. And in those moments when I do not feel valued or affirmed in my home, I flee to the throne room of God and bask for a while in His great love for me.
2) God’s most general instructions are the ones to which I need to flee when stress or conflict arise. Help. Love. Really, if I can’t figure out what to do or am stressed by conflicting obligations, I flee to the characteristics of the great Helper and I Cor. 13. I often get caught up in the details of life, and the more the details suck me in, the more pressure I feel in my marriage. The healthiest thing for me in those moments is to force myself to zoom out. Forget getting the laundry done and the kitchen cleaned. What does I Cor. 13 love look like right now? Kindness, patience, giving the benefit of the doubt, never giving up on him. How does being a strong helper created in the image of God inform what I do and do not do in this moment?
There are probably more principles that I could put forward. But these really are the two biggies for me right now. Poured over and flowing through every other response is great confidence in Biblical grace. Grace and love are the oil in the engine that keeps every other working part from friction. Grace gives me confidence that laying down my sword in a conflict, enduring in peace, and returning good for evil (real or perceived) is not a prescription for continuing abuse but God’s great plan for ending sin, conflict, and evil.
I’d like to end with the disclaimer I gave at the beginning. If you are not a well-loved wife, I hope these ideas still encourage you at some level. And remember that God has spoken the same words of belonging, love, and affirmation over you that He has over me. Whether you are loved on earth this way or not, you are most definitely loved this way in heaven.