Give me a word, Lord: LOVING WELL

Ephesians 5:22-31 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Yesterday, I had to go in to work for a few morning hours. My husband, Jeff, was painting at the rent house that we have on the market, and he sent me a text that read, “When you get off, go to Home Depot.” I answered, “Send me a list.” He responded, “Flowers.” He knows how much I love to plant spring flowers, and I still had a few empty pots around the house. He simply wanted to make me happy. He knew that would brighten my day after a busy week at work. I arrived home with the back of the 4 Runner once again full of brilliantly colored flowers, and he met me at my vehicle. He opened the rear hatch and grinned ear to ear, and said, “This is going to make my wife very happy!” I can not describe in words how much I love this man, but suffice it to say that he is my human, and I thank God every day for him.

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion what makes our marriage work. I could respond with the long story of both of our grieving pasts, but the short and most truthful answer is “God!” Jeff and I are not perfect by a long shot. We have made major mistakes walking through this thing called life, but there is truly no one else I would rather have by my side. Today, I want to take a moment to encourage all married couples. No marriage in perfect. There will be hills and valleys, but no matter what, keep God at the center of your marriage and I guarantee you that you and your spouse will grow closer to one another every day.

Grow closer every day? I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. I fear that the problem with most marriage failures is the lack of growing closer in a daily walk with God and with each other. When we first fall in love, we have butterflies in our bellies. Our hearts pitter patter at the mere thought of the one we love. We can’t wait to see that person again. A text message makes our heart leap. We love that feeling. It is a special kind of high that is only felt at the beginning of a love story. But what happens after the first year, the first five years, or even ten years down the road? Are the feelings still there? Yes, they are but unfortunately, we bury those feelings deep beneath a stack of day to day busyness, bills, child care, work, and chores. We forget to place the same value on that person that we did in the beginning. We have to remind ourselves that this person we married is our human. This person is the one we can count on when the going gets tough, and the one who will be there with us through thick and thin. We must be their human too!

I’m not a professional marriage counselor by any means, but I want to share a few tips for making a marriage great. First and most importantly, put God at the center of your marriage. Invite Him in. Ask Him to be the Lord of your marriage and your home. I promise if you get this first step right, all of the rest will be a cake walk, and you will win the cake every time. Pray together and pray for each other. Do this often! The second step is almost as important as the first one. It took a few years for my husband and I to get comfortable praying out loud together (other than meal time), but every time I hear that man pray for me, my heart skips a beat. The pitter patter is still there!

We must make time with our spouse a priority. Do not ever stop dating your spouse. Spend time alone together. I know with kids in the house, jobs, and all of our other priorities, this can be hard, but it is imperative. Don’t wait until the kids are grown to spend time alone. By the time they are out of the house, you will be married to a stranger. Get to know your spouse on a regular basis. We usually take two vacations a year when possible: one with the family and one with the spouse only. Time together is a valuable asset in a marriage.

Laugh together. My husband makes me laugh out loud on a daily basis. He has a natural whit and can make me crack up laughing even when I’m mad. Make laughter the soundtrack of your marriage.

There will probably be arguments, but remember that you do not need to “win”. Work together to find a solution. It’s all about being a team, Peeps! Never keep secrets and never lie. This will break trust. Jeff is fortunate in the fact that I can never keep a secret from him. I tell him everything, probably too much, but hey, I don’t lie! If trust is broken, however, we must forgive and forgive quickly for that is the only way to re-establish trust in a relationship.

Get connected in a local church. Make faith family connections. Surround yourselves with people who are lifting up your relationship and not tearing it down. This will make a world of difference. The people that we spend time with can truly build us up or rip us apart. Choose your friends wisely. And never forget step one. Keep God at the the center.

God has many plans for you, and He wants to use you in so many aspects of life. Have you ever considered that God also wants to use you in your marriage? He does! If you’ve lost that loving feeling, it is time to go looking for it. But wait…don’t go looking outside of your marriage. Look right beside you at the person that you fell in love with all those years ago. Ask God to give you a loving attitude toward your spouse and to pour out His love through you. It is a prayer God will answer. I know that He will! He loves you so much.

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