Valentine's Day swirls our heads with thoughts of love and romance. Sometimes the two go hand-in-hand, other times we confuse the two, or we confuse the role each one should play in our lives.
In this series on learning to Titus 2 love our husbands, Part 1 dealt with the issue of losing our love when our husbands don't meet our unrealistic expectations for them or when they can't perform that expected art of mind-reading.
Part two deals with a more serious and heartbreaking reason why women can lose their love for their husbands. Some of my observations come from personal experience, others come from encounters with other couples we have counselled.
*We can lose our love when our husbands don't meet realistic expectations.
Husbands will fail. They are human. This isn't a forum to expose our husbands failures, but to focus on our reactions to them. There are times when husbands don't meet basic needs required by the Lord, the wife and/or society to make a happy marriage. They might not be reading the Bible daily. You might think they're putting work first. They might not be leading the family in devotions as often as you would like. You might feel like you are doing all the parenting. Some of these problems are one-sided, the husband may actually think he is doing a pretty good job in these areas. Or he may think that being a good provider and working hard is putting his family first. It is a Biblical obligation, and while he views it as a win, the wife might view it as a failure because he isn't home often. But, there might be times that last for hours, weeks, months or years when the wife has to face the lonely reality that her husband is not holding up his end of the marital bargain according to her standards, the Bible's standard and common sense.
This is the best time to pour out the love, not withhold it. This is the time when your Biblical role as a "helpmeet" comes to test. Can you help him through this time? Can you endure? Can you live your Christianity before him with joy? Can you discover the WHYS to his problems and help him overcome them?
Women can easily discern their husbands' failings, they aren't always good about discerning how to handle them.
We know this, we don't always follow through. Nagging just comes so naturally.
Judges 16:16, "With such nagging she (Delilah) prodded him day after day until he was tired to death."
I met a young mom with many undisciplined kids who immediately began talking nonstop about her husband. As I kept trying to bring the focus more to her faith, she kept haranguing. I was being verbally assaulted. Somewhere in the middle, she angrily talked about how her husband worked many, many late nights. Claiming she wanted to encourage him as a good Christian wife, she and the kids brought a meal to the office. There was daddy, relaxing at his desk, watching a movie. She was livid! I actually found myself secretly applauding his creativity in escaping the nagging. I was worn down in a 15 minute conversation, he had to go home to her every night.
Although, Biblically, he should have just crawled up on the roof and lived.
When you argue, you weaken your stand. If you are right, arguing makes you appear wrong because of the way you approach the situation. Does it matter if you are right? Isn't your goal to help him become right?
Proverbs 27:15, "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day."
Save your energy for prayer.
I was soon introduced to that women's sport called husband-bashing. I worked at a bank and breaks were filled with juicy stories of how stupid, selfish, and unromantic husbands were. I started eating lunch alone to avoid this scene.
My husband and I promised each other to never talk about one another, unless the issue was resolved and by mutual agreement we shared the situation to be a spiritual encouragement to other people. Just as I feel loved because I know he never shares those humiliating moments where I have failed as a wife, he knows his secrets are safe with me.
When I needed to talk, I only confided in older women I know do not gossip. They are hard to find, so I didn't often talk to anybody but the Lord. People don't forget. Long after your husband may have changed, he may still be viewed in the way you first portrayed him.
Even under the guise of a prayer request, revealing your husband's deepest weaknesses could be harmful. Would you want him to go to the men's Bible study and say, "Hey, please pray for my wife. She's really been a nag. She's letting herself go, looks like a slob when I come home and she yells at the kids. We just really need to bring her before the Lord."
Don't tell your children your husband's faults. Find honest things to praise him for in front of the kids, friends and family members. Be real.
Once I was trying too hard and my husband stated, "You've been reading those marriage books again, haven't you?"
Don't turn to another man in any way!
It seems so obvious that it shouldn't have to be mentioned, but I've read about Christian affairs that have been started with "spiritual purpose." A woman is not getting the fellowship she craves from her husband, so she starts talking to another brother about spiritual things. A spiritual bond can lead to an emotional bond, which can lead to a physical relationship. I am not saying do not have fellowship with brothers, I am cautioning you to guard your heart.
Some women just take this step in their imaginations, where they think about how spiritual other men are, what it would like to be married to a man like that. Do not covet even the noblest characteristics, even in your mind.
Do focus on yourself!
There are always cause and effect matters in relationships. Are you causing any of his behavior? Is there anything you need to change first? I am not advocating a husband's innocence in all matters, again, just a challenge to look inward before looking outward. If you have removed the beam, work on the speck.
If you shoot down all of his opinions, he may stop offering them. A healthy discussion, where each side is received without scorn or ridicule, is important.
If you criticize the way he deals with the kids, he may find it easier to keep peace by not dealing with children. Sometimes men honestly think that since they can't do anything right at all, it is better to just do nothing.
Is your reaction so wrong, that it justifies his actions? Be blameless.
Of course we know we should pray, but we need to pray very specifically about what we think our husband's failings our. It is better to tell the Lord so He can let us know if we are right or wrong, and then He can tell us how to proceed.
The Lord gave me this guideline early in our marriage. Before I approached my husband with an alleged fault, I prayed about it three times. By taking your concerns honestly before the Lord, you clear out your own selfish ambitions, your own critical spirit and your hidden agendas by holding them up to the light of the Savior. Then, if you still feel led to speak, you are approaching as Esther did, with spiritual preparation.
It is unproductive to throw something like, "You just aren't being the spiritual leader" out in a fight. Trust me, it doesn't work.
However, if after praying about it at LEAST three times, the Lord might lead you to pray through a portion of Scripture, to open up a discussion about each of your roles in marriage or lead you to be silent. Maybe a more submissive and encouraging spirit would give freedom for leadership. I can't give you the answer that will help specifically. The Lord will reveal it if you are faithful to reading His Word and praying.
If you leave it with the Lord in prayer, you can't take it back with worry.
You married him for good reasons. Remember those. Appreciate those.
If this blog is about older women teaching younger women how to love their husbands, you might be a bit frustrated that I would give a command instead of instruction.
The instruction is in the Word. I Corinthians 13 is a perfect guideline for you to follow. The Lord will tell you how to apply this as you pray for each of these characteristics to be evident through your love as a wife.
PROMISE OF GOD:
I Peter 3:1, "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives."
Husbands can be won over. It may take hours, it may take days, it may take weeks, it may take months, it may take years. Do you have the spiritual perseverance to believe the promise of God for your husband?
Are you excited about the make-over He is going to do in your life while you are waiting?
Just keep loving your husband, even when he doesn't meet realistic expectations.