This chapter of How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids came at an appropriate time – my hubby and I celebrate our anniversary next week! Although, I must confess, I almost didn’t read this chapter. We had a hectic week and I kept putting it off, figuring I would just skip it, we’re good in this area, I can come back to it later. Yet something kept pulling at me to just do it, so last night I read through the chapter. And boy, am I ever glad I did as I was shown a few things in my heart that need to change.
Enrich. I decided to look it up in the dictionary to get a good grasp of what the word really means. It’s a verb, which would imply an action. Hmm, not sure I am always doing this as an ACT, rather I’m pretty sure I just settle into the IDEA of it.
Enrich means “to supply with riches; to add greater value or significance to; to make finer in quality, as by supplying desirable elements or ingredients”. When I look at the definition and I look at our marriage, I certainly love and value my marriage – but I don’t always actively seek to add greater value, to make finer in quality by supplying desirable elements. I thought I was, but there is so much more, so much deeper that I can go!
To start with, R-E-S-P-E-C-T! My hubby will tell you I’m not the same “girl” he married almost 8 years ago. Which is a good thing! I can see how the Lord has been at work in my life, my heart, to change me. RESPECT was one of the first areas that had to change. Being a firstborn, super independent type, I was used to making a lot of my own decisions, having been given freedom with guidance to do so. When we got married, I struggled with submitting to my husband’s leadership, even for silly little things! Yet as we grew in our marriage and our relationship with the Lord, I began to realize my sin and my NEED to respect and submit to my husband, as the head of our home.
As Rachael said “When I recount God’s faithfulness during our journey, I am overwhelmed by His patience and grace. He has been so good to me especially.” I’m a stubborn one, yet God continues to work on my heart to soften it toward him, and my husband. And The Man has so much patience toward me also, I am so grateful.
Now, I think I can honestly say that my heart’s desire is to follow the lead of my husband. Though I may want him to do certain things, I have learned that the worst approach is nagging and pointing it out – the best approach is in prayer. For example, I wanted my hubby to start doing devotions with us as a family. I nagged him for a while, then God showed me it was better to pray. He mulled it over for a while (without me knowing), spoke to a Pastor friend, who encouraged him to go for it, and started leading our family devotion time. It has been amazing ever since! But in order for it to happen, I needed to get out of the way, and let God do the work in his heart.
Unconditional love – not the kind that says “if you do this for me, I’ll do that for you”; not the feeling of love; but the kind of love that only comes from God, and that loves and gives and serves no matter what the situation or circumstances. No matter if he’s left his clothes lying around the room again (yes honey, I put them away for you today! ;p) or forgotten to give you his coffee mug to clean out and there’s a sludge swimming in the bottom….no matter how you FEEL in the moment, we need to nurture and PRACTICE a love that loves no matter what. I need to bite my tongue when I feel like reacting. I need to put him first and serve him, looking out for his needs and meeting them, even if I’m tired or don’t want to. Have you heard of “I Am Second“? As a wife, it needs to be “I Am Third” – God first, then The Man, then me.
I need to humble myself and be the first one to ask forgiveness (because I’m usually wrong, but stubborn too :D and pride brings about destruction in a marriage!). I need to pray instead of nag. I need to stop and receive or give the hug and kiss, even when I’m busily working, not pushing him off quickly. Oh that’s a big one.
And I wonder, how does our marriage look to our children? Oh, I know the boys get all bashful sometimes when we kiss, but do they see us enjoying each other? Making time for each other? Pursuing each other? Serving each other? Certainly my husband is a fantastic example to my boys of dating his wife as he likes to supply me with roses and take me out on dates. But I know there are times I have not shown him respect and love in my attitude or tone of voice in front of the kids, and I know that can be very damaging – to us and them.
So there are some changes I need to make in my heart and how I pursue enriching our marriage. But on the same token, we do have a lot of really good things in our marriage! I am learning to serve (giving a shoulder massage, cleaning up his clothes, slowing down for a hug) instead of being too busy or complaining. I am learning to talk more about what’s going on in my heart, to not let things build up and blow up, and savouring the time of getting to know each other deeper. I enjoy being under his leadership, praying for the Lord to lead him and us, giving him opportunities to lead. I am learning to find ways to encourage and build him up, writing notes and leaving scripture for him throughout the day.
But most of all, I am learning to put God first, then him, then me. If God is at the center of our relationship, he will provide the grace, strength, wisdom, patience and forgiveness we need to have a godly marriage. My desire and my commitment is to spend time enriching my marriage and being the Proverbs 31 kind of wife my husband deserves.