As I wrote, I realized I was basically writing down all the areas in which I consistently struggle in my own marriage. This isn't me writing a list of all that I've done right; it's a list of what God's Word says I must do. It's me reminding myself to STOP doing wrong! :) I need to hear this advice better than anyone I know. Seriously.
"Hmmm... great question! And honestly, you will know how best to answer that-- remember that you are called to be a helper to your OWN husband, not any other man, so your submission and helping will be uniquely suited to him! (1 Peter 3:1- "Wives, be subject to your own husbands...") One bit of advice I was given that's been helpful was to make it a point to ask him daily or weekly "what is one thing I can do to help you today?" or "what is one thing you'd like me to prioritize this week?" His answer could be as simple as praying for a family member or making a batch of cookies, or as difficult as getting up early to pack his lunch for work, or re-arranging dinner at a different time than usual.
As far as "my own" advice, here goes:
|Let's be honest- we all look at our husbands this way sometimes!|
1. Don't expect marriage to be all that you expect it to be. :) Your husband is a sinner, and at some point, you will definitely think "how did I marry such a total jerk?!" It's in THOSE MOMENTS that you have to remember "I am submitting to my husband out of trust in CHRIST, not him." We are to submit "as unto the Lord," being Sarah's daughters who "do not fear what is frightening," and calling our husbands "lord" even when they pimp us out to foreign kings to save their own skins (like Abraham did regularly). Why/how? Because we are serving and trusting our perfect Savior, NOT our imperfect husbands. (1 Peter 3:6) (Note: just as often, you will be shocked and discouraged by your own sin, saying "I never thought I would be this terrible of a wife!" The Gospel of Christ's perfection in our place is for us then, too!)
2. Be quick to forgive. Oh so hard for me... but we entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly (like Christ did- 1 Peter 2:19-23), and we draw love from the Great Love with which He loved us, so that we can forgive as the Lord forgave us. (Eph. 4:32)
3. Bite your tongue... a lot. It's so easy for us women to criticize, to nag, to suggest, to TALK!! And done in the right way/right spirit, out of love for your husband and your Lord, that will be a huge asset... but most of the time, we just need to bite our tongues in the moment, take it to the Lord in prayer, and wait. "Each of you should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for the anger of man does not bring about the righteousness God requires." (James 1:19-20) When we speak it is supposed to be full of grace, respectful, honest, and aimed to build up (Eph. 4:29). Even when we are confronting our husbands about sin, we are called to do it for their good and Christ's glory. Someone told me that the glory of God is seen in the difference between how you'd act/speak naturally and how you'd act/speak because of God's grace in your life. All that to say, if you are crying and he wants to know why, you should tell him (another great tip I was given the day before my wedding)-- guys usually are pretty clueless about that sort of thing,-- but tell him in a way that doesn't vent your frustration on him. ** Let him hold you while you cry (even if you're mad at him); it will help you both!!**
4. Be committed to righteousness, period. Even when your husband fails miserably in the area of spiritual leadership. This is hard because we naturally want to try and take over, yet super-naturally we absolutely do NOT want to do that, but there will probably be a time or seasons where your husband is unavailable or not functioning as a spiritual leader. In those times, keep striving after godliness; be fulfilled by times with CHRIST instead of just wishing your husband would "step up to the plate." Keep reading good books on God's character, His work, and godliness, not to mention the Bible! Do not neglect the great duty of prayer!! Kind of like Jesus told Simon Peter when he asked about John; "What's it to you if he ___-- YOU follow Me." (John 21:22)
5. Treat him like a hero-- respect him verbally as much as you can... the more specific, the better (guys like straight talk). "You are so good at giving honest compliments." "Your heart for the church is so encouraging!" "Thank you for taking out the trash without me even noticing-- you bless me so much." Love notes, Scripture and encouragements in dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror are fun! When all you can think of is the bad times, look at old pictures or scrapbooks to be reminded of all the good times. That will help you remember that you do love this man, this very dear man, and that you actually are glad to be his wife. :)
PS- favorite marriage books: A Love that Lasts; when marriage meets grace, by Gary & Betsy Riccuci, When Sinners Say I Do, by Dave Harvey, and A Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (read this after being married a year or two). I also found Reforming Marriage by Doug Wilson, and The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman helpful, even if you don't agree with every single thing in there. (I just realized that 'Gary is apparently a good name for marriage-book authors...)"
Please, my married friends (especially those of you who are wiser and/or more experienced than I am!), chime in with your own advice, tips, and bits of Truth! Husbands, this includes you!