September 15, 2017
Love at First Fight
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Like all relationships, the marriage relationship has a certain dynamic. If one person changes, then the whole relationship will change. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate making personal change. It is hard work and more often than not, extremely painful! So when it comes to the marriage relationship, I attempt to make sure that it is my husband who does all of the changing instead of me. Unfortunately, that tactic is not only contradictory to God’s plan for marriage, but it never works and inevitably leads to frustration and friction in the home.
In every relationship, but especially in marriage, God calls us to encourage one another and build each other up. During our first year of marriage, I approached my relationship with my husband, Dan, kind of like I would contemplate buying an old house. I couldn’t wait to see it remodeled! And I was just the one who could draw up the plans and do the demolitions work.
I focused on those things I did not like about my husband and tried desperately to change him. But the harder I tried, the more “set” those things I wanted changed seemed to become.
I finally realized that my efforts were in vain and my motives impure. The ugly reality was that I simply wanted Dan to be more like me - when what I should want is for him is to be more like God.
Everyone needs encouragement. At the heart of of encouragement is acceptance. It is important to understand that acceptance and approval are two entirely different things.
We need to accept and celebrate the differences in each other instead of trying so hard to eliminate them. We can be different without being right or wrong. Differences can rip us apart or add great flavor to the relationship. Differences fill in the “gaps” we all have.
Many times the things that we try so hard to change in our husbands are the very things that we once found attractive. He once was carefree, but now he is irresponsible. When we first met, he was determined, but now he is stubborn. He used to be more concerned about inward qualities than outward appearances, but now he is just plain sloppy!
I wonder what would happen if we made the deliberate choice to unconditionally accept our husband – as is?
How would our marriage relationship and the health of our home be affected if we took the energy that we waste trying to change each other and used it to change ourselves?
How would your husband respond if you became his biggest fan and looked for ways to encourage him every single day? We all need a cheerleader! Every husband ought to be able to trust his wife and what she says about him. Ladies, don’t criticize your husband to your friends, your children, or to other family members. Instead, be his biggest fan and most loyal encourager.
I know what you are thinking. What about me? I need to be encouraged just as much as my husband does. I could not agree more! And the amazing thing about encouragement is that it is cyclical. It always comes back to you. The more you give, the more you receive.
It is impossible to out-give God. The One who loves us unconditionally, accepts us just as we are, and encourages us every step of the way is calling us to do the same for each other. He longs for the world to see Him and His stubborn love at work in our homes and marriages.
The question is - are we willing to change?
Dear Father, I come to You today, asking You to forgive me for my critical spirit and rigid heart. I lay down my expectations and agenda for my marriage. Today, please help me build up my husband and encourage him toward You. Give me the strength to accept him just like he is. Please pour Your unconditional love through me. Please work in me, in my marriage, and in my home so that others can see you.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Make a list of the good things you see in your husband. Read that list every day this week, thanking God for each one. Every day, encourage your husband in some way; write him a note, call him at work just to tell him that you love him, or show up at his office to take him to lunch.
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Originally published Friday, 15 September 2017.