Originally published Monday, 21 October 2013.
“Your love is better than wine...” Song of Solomon 1:2
Life is so full of pursuits, passions, needs and responsibilities. It’s unfortunately all too easy for those things to pull at the tapestry of our relationships--especially our relationship with our spouse. If you were to write down the top three things in your life that keep you from spending quality time with your husband (or wife) they’d probably fall into one of two categories: work or entertainment.
Most of the time, I feel like it’s my responsibilities (or my perceived responsibilities) that pose the most threat to steal all my attention. But recently, I’ve heard a number of women who were older than me confess a lack of desire to listen to or converse with their husbands for entertainment’s sake. They just wanted to watch their TV programs or do their “thing.” It really caught my attention because social scientists have been saying for years that it’s the men who don’t want to listen to their wives, not the other way around. Did the men listen to the studies and could they be trying to engage their wives? I don’t know exactly, but it surprised me. I’ve known a few women who were so involved with hobbies that the people around them suffered for their lack of attentiveness, but not many. We get emails from wives who struggle with their husband’s need to unplug after a crazy work day...but then he gets fixated on a his “unplug” activity and doesn’t ever engage his children because of video games, etc. Man or woman, we are all susceptible to misplacing our priorities.
We live in a world that makes quality connection quite a feat. We have so many little devices that inform us, entertain us and allow us instant, but shallow communication with other people. It’s easy to become shaped by those devices. A hundred years ago, relationships didn’t face the everyday dangers ours do today. No, “back then” wasn’t perfect, but it’s fair to say they had a few less distractions than we do.
Whether it’s a mild addiction to your smart phone, your ever-increasing life responsibilities, or just the need to unwind, if we let those things or any other thing in between us and our spouse, we’re walking down a path of relationship destruction or at least severe damage.
Solomon and his beloved made it clear to each other that the love they shared was more precious than anything else. When they said "Your love is better than wine" they meant it was sweeter than the sweetest thing this life could offer, more consuming and intoxicating than anything else. If they had lived in today’s culture, they wouldn’t have been distracted while eating a meal together because of a text or a video game or a TV program. They would shut work off at a decent hour because there was nothing more important than the one they’d come home to. Their love captivated their attention. It cemented their focus.
I think the Lord designed our marriages to be this way. But for me, it’s all too easy to let my easy-going man be his wonderful self and get all tangled up with other things when I should be listening and focusing on him. We work together and so sometimes it’s hard for me to see the line between working with my hubby to be supportive and when that work is taking me away from my man. We’ve had to (OK, mostly just me) work hard at making sure we take our one day a week off and truly make it about rest or family tasks and not about church. Our spouses shouldn’t ever feel they need to compete with our responsibilities for our focus and we should be careful to not equate the desire to do well at a job that provides for our family as the same thing as giving attention to our family.
Early in our marriage I read a great book on being a supportive wife (embarrassingly, I wanted to be one, but hadn’t really much of a clue what that actually played out like) and the author said she asked her husband each morning, “What can I do to help you today?” I started asking Eric that question and didn’t get much of a usable response. Most of the time, he didn’t need my help. So I started asking myself if I had spent enough time listening to him to know his biggest concerns for the week/day to know how to best pray for him. Do you know your husband’s biggest pressure today? His wishes and dreams for your life together? If you don’t, it could be a good sign that some focus needs to shift.
Solomon and his beloved had a love that couldn’t be washed away by distractions or troubles or anything else in this world. I want that, and I bet you do too. So let’s spend some quiet time in prayer today asking the One who designed love and gave us the one we love how we can best honor Him in our marriages by shifting a few priorities. Let’s guard the preciousness of our love by kicking out anything that has threatened our husbands (or wives) being secure in the knowledge that there’s nothing (except the Lord Himself) that is more valuable to us.