I’ve made it my goal to work through these 21 days of the Ultimate Marriage Vow, one vow per day – read ‘um and write about ‘um. It’s a good and admirable goal, but life requires flexibility. Yesterday was one of those days with all that was going on with our son’s outpatient procedure and being a present and supportive mama. I had a list of to-dos and don’t forgets a mile long starting the night before and continuing into a 3:30am wake-up call and travel to the surgery center. Nearly all of those reminders revolved around our son and his health, his medications, his diet and his routine. A new specialist brings new information and changes and it can be a bit consuming.
I made a mental note not to forget my husband while caring for my kiddo. (That would be really easy to do.) So, I went to Darlene’s blog bright and early to see what I missed yesterday. This was yesterday:
Putting my husband’s priorities above my own, sure, I can see the merit in that. I can think of about a dozen times that I gave a reason that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do something for him or make a change because of the kids (as recent as yesterday), the schedule, my priorities, my timeline. I hate that I’ve done that. I have disregarded him.
Oh do I hate the feeling of being pacified, brushed aside. We all want to be heard, really heard. We want to be regarded. We want to have someone act on our wishes because in that hearing, regarding and acting we are demonstrating love. Yikes. Truth is, action DOES speak louder than words.
So, as I was pondering how I could demonstrate my love for my husband by hearing him, regarding him, by acting on his priorities as if they are as important as my own (because they are), I moved on to reading today’s vow.
Well played, God.
What better way to demonstrate my love for my husband than to pray that I will be the wife, the divinely-created helpmate that he needs to become the man of God that he was created to be? This isn’t a calling to become a Stepford wife with no thought for what makes me happy and fulfilled, it’s finding myself through serving, by considering someone before myself. That’s not just going through the motions of wife (and mama), it’s demonstrating God’s love for my husband (and kiddos) through those actions.
I was browsing my nightstand (which is really a bookshelf because I’m a booky nerd) and I came across our copy of “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman . I remembered that the book has a profile – a quiz, really – in the back for each spouse to complete. (We did this years ago after a marriage conference weekend. Excellent idea – the book and the conference.) The idea is that the answers to those questions will reveal that spouse’s love language – the way he/she best receives love and how his/her spouse can and should communicate love to that person. My husband scored quite high in the category of Words of Affirmation. That means that he knows he is truly loved and accepted when I communicate encouragement and acceptance when I speak to about about him. He thrives and finds wholeness in my words. When I tell him that he’s a good man, a reliable provider, an active and present dad, a thoughtful husband, when I brag on him at home in front of the kids and in public in front of friends and family, he feels the most loved. (And alternately, when I disregard him, when I don’t take the time to hear him, when I brush past his priorities to make room for my own, he doesn’t feel loved…ouch!)
Today’s vow is the answer to yesterday’s vow, and God packaged it all neatly for me so I could see a challenge to grow and a solution for how to do it. Nice!
So, as I go about my daily prayers for my husband – for safety, for wise and Godly decision-making, for protection for his mind and his heart, for strength – I vow to add prayers that God will mold me to be the encouraging voice of love and support that my husband’s heart needs. I will be asking God to help me be more respectful of my husband, to regard his wishes, to make his priorities more important to me and to remind me to speak the words of encouragement and support that will help my husband grow in his relationship with God.
To recap – to strengthen our marriage, all I’m asked to do is remember that my husband is my friend, to offer him mercy and look for what’s great about him (instead of focusing on his flaws) and to consider him and encourage him. Four days in and it’s not rocket science, but it IS challenging. In a world that elevates ME, God asks me to find my value in how I affect others…especially in how I love, honor and respect my husband, my closest friend. Oh, that I should not only accept that calling, but that I will thrive in fulfilling my ministry in my home.