Originally published Wednesday, 05 February 2014.
My Beloved is dazzling... Song of Solomon 5:10
When was the last time you described your husband to someone else? What was the first adjective that bubbled to the surface of your mind and conversation?
Our short passage from Song of Solomon reveals a small but important aspect to retaining a lasting love: describe your sweetheart affectionately. Our bride from the passage uses affectionate, positive words to describe Solomon. By looking at the rest of Scripture, we know Solomon was a wise man, but also a very imperfect one.
You might be married to a man you struggle to feel affectionate, positive words for, but the truth is that all men (and women!) since Adam and Eve have been a mixture of wonderful and messy.
In our marriages, we don’t have control over our spouse’s shortcomings (no matter how much nagging or cajoling we might invest) but we do have control over what we focus on. There’s always some good quality tucked in our husbands. After all, he was fashioned in the very image of our Lord, so there’s something in there that reflects the Lord and that quality is good.
Too often we get focused on the half empty part of the glass instead of the half full part. When it comes to marriage and fostering a passionate love, it seems to me that focusing on the wrong half of the “glass” can dry up the part that was full. I’ve watched husbands wither under the criticism of their wife, romance turn stale and even bitter, all from a heap of words. I’ve also watched patience and grace feed a difficult marriage and grow their love to be deeper, more mature and satisfying.
As I write these words, I hear words of other women echoing through the hallways of my mind. Focusing on the good in your man won’t erase the bad, though it might give him the grace he needs to mature in an area of difficulty. But if you are in a dangerous situation or your children are because of your spouse, just focusing on one good quality won’t protect you or fix everything. Speaking well of your husband doesn’t mean living in denial of a dangerous problem. So please don’t misunderstand me. It just means thinking the best of him, not holding a record of wrongs against him, believing the Lord is at work in his life, and cheering on as he grows.
James 2:13 tells us that “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” All of us could use a dose of mercy. Your hubby needs God’s mercy through you today.
Consider how the Lord, who knows every fault of yours, describes you. He calls you His child (John 1:12), His friend (John 15:15), the temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:27), a saint (Ephesians 1:1), chosen (1 Peter 2:9) and many more beautiful things. When I used to read how God lavishes His love on His children, it was easy for me to think “Well, maybe that’s true for so-and-so, but not me.” As the Lord convicted me of the unbelief in those thoughts, I allowed His words of love, affection and grace to permeate my heart. If the Lord knows my every flaw and still declares that “His Banner over me is Love” (Song of Solomon 2:4), then how can I withhold the same response to my husband? The more we personally taste the grace and love of God, the better we understand it and have more of it to share.
Like the bride in Song of Solomon, we can focus on our husband’s shortcomings, or we can build him up with affectionate words. Pray over how the Lord might want you to grow in this area as a wife. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
- When you are talking about your husband with friends, family or co-workers, use words that affirm your love, affection and admiration of him. Use the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
- Next time your husband does something that rubs you the wrong way, grab your prayer journal and talk out your emotions with the Lord. That way you can talk about the issue with your husband rather than just blast him with a heap of emotions. None of us react at our best when we feel attacked by someone else’s emotional response.
- When a fault of your spouse comes to your attention lift it to the Lord. Pray for Him to be strong in your husband’s weakness. Also pray for the Lord to use this issue to accomplish something good in you. Many times the Lord has used irritants in life to refine my heart. Amy Carmichael made a profound statement that always comes to my mind when I respond badly to others: If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.
- When you feel burdened by your husband’s weakness, ask the Lord (and this one is a little hard) to give you a fresh reminder of your own weakness so that you could respond with compassion and grace. We all need grace, however, sometimes we forget just how much we need it. And whether that is in our marriage or another area of life, that is a dangerous place to be.
I’m praying for words of love, mercy, help and faith to spill readily from your lips about and to your husband and that those words would bear a great harvest in your marriage.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:26 NAS