August 19, 2011
I Fully Intended To...
"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)
When I married my husband over twenty years ago, I fully intended to unconditionally love, respect and admire him. I had great intentions of being the perfect wife, offering kind words, a romantic kiss and dinner on the table every evening.
But then careers took off, bills increased, children were born, laundry piles grew, and life became chaotic. Along the way I subconsciously created a measuring stick of expectations for whether my husband actually deserved my love and respect.
When marriage doesn't meet those unrealistic expectations we had before the wedding, and real life kicks in, it's easy to fall into the habit of tearing down our husbands and our marriages as well.
In fact, the longer couples are together, the easier it is to not only see each other's flaws, but to mercilessly criticize them. This eventually leads to short tempers, less tolerance, minimal patience, and a lack of marital bliss.
As a result, those gifts of unconditional love, respect and admiration that we fully intended to offer become gifts we are not so willing to give.
A few years ago I picked up a book for wives written by my friend and author Rick Johnson. I was hoping to rekindle some passion in my marriage. Little did I know, God would use truths shared in that book to get my attention and help me make some inward changes.
As I read, God convicted my heart about things I had said to my husband just days earlier. I recalled critical comments that rolled off my tongue so easily, which I now regretted deeply. Although I had fully intended to be my husband's biggest encourager, I had become one of his worst critics.
Over time, God helped me see the powerful influence I have on my husband and my marriage when I choose words that build up. Words that encourage instead of discourage.
As women, we have the power to build up or tear down our husbands every day, merely by the respect we give and the amount of faith we let him know we have in him.
Respect and admiration are two of the most powerful tools a wife has to influence her husband. When I realized I had fallen short in giving those two precious gifts to my man, I asked God to help me control my tongue. I asked Him to fill my heart and mouth with words that would make my husband feel admired, respected and loved, regardless of whether I felt he deserved it.
I wanted His help following through on what I intended to do from the beginning, so I asked Him to convict my heart when critical thoughts crept into my mind, and help me avoid the temptation to say them out loud.
Within just a few weeks, I saw a change — in me, in my husband's demeanor, and in our relationship. A change that rekindled unconditional love, respect and admiration. A change that reflected what I set out to give him all along.
Through our words of respect, and admiration, we can help our husbands become the great men God created them to be, and in turn, have the marriages we fully intended to build.
Dear Lord, help me to tame my tongue and focus on building up my man. Help me break free of the habit to criticize, even when warranted. Open my eyes to the positive, not the negative. Draw us closer, and help us both nurture a strong and loving marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Tracie's blog and sign up to receive her free e-book "14 Days to a Happier Marriage."
Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues
Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst
Think about how important your husband's love is to you and consider how your respect means just as much to him.
If your marriage seems strained right now, think about conversations with your husband lately. Have your comments been encouraging and uplifting, or discouraging and destructive?
Am I in the habit of tearing down my husband? How can I make sure our daily conversations leave him feeling respected and admired?
Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (NIV)
1 Corinthians 13:2-7, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (ESV)
James 3:5b-6a, "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." (NIV)
© 2011 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 19 August 2011.