Are you married to someone who’s really different from you?
Have you ever asked God what on earth He was thinking when He chose this man to be your spouse?
If so, you are not alone!
My husband and I are both Christians. There are some major issues that we are absolutely on the same page about. For these two foundations, I’m totally and utterly thankful. But he is an engineer, while I most definitely am not. He is an optimizer of systems, whereas I seem to create a wake of chaos wherever I go. He is an ultra-focused driver and gets frustrated with others who aren’t so focused (…why are you looking at me?!).
The Lion & the Golden Retriever
When we went to a marriage conference and took a compatibility/personality test, he was a “lion” and I was a “golden retriever.” Need I say more?
We were even cautioned that this mix of personalities would be a challenge in marriage, and although I’d classify myself as happily married, I would never pretend that our 20 years of marriage have always been easy.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles in this area. Most of my married friends are paired up with spouses who are very different from themselves. Even just the male vs. female classification brings its own set of differences in the ways we generally think, communicate, and act.
So really, God. What were you thinking?
4 Ways to Love Your Husband & Reclaim the Joy in Your Marriage
For me, one answer to this question came from the book “Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?” by Gary Thomas. I think the title speaks for itself! But I think this idea of marriage serving to grow us and sharpen us is only one side of the coin; I really do believe God wants us to have joy in marriage.
So I wanted to share several ways God has been working in my heart lately to help me not only grow and become more like Jesus in my marriage, but also to reclaim the joy of being married to my best friend, particularly during times when our differences feel like they’re overshadowing our love – or at least like – for each other!
Below are four ways to love your husband like Jesus. But they aren’t just for you, they are based on what I’ve been learning.
1.) Remember What it’s Like to Listen
The first way to love your husband like Jesus is to remember what it’s like to listen.
Remember when you were first dating and you could literally sit for hours just listening to whatever he had to say? He could be talking about his favorite flavor of toothpaste and it would seem like the most interesting topic in the world.
Now, you just wish he’d put the cap on the toothpaste.
Now that things are comfortable and the initial magic of courtship is gone, I know that I’ve forgotten the art of listening. Listening. Particularly when we disagree on something.
Remember how I’m a golden retriever? I like to please people. But now that my husband is a familiar, safe person, all the energy I spend on choosing my words carefully and not offending anyone means that when I’m with my safe person (my poor husband) I let out all of my opinions, all of my pent-up desire to be heard and understood (more on this later).
Actions Speak Louder Than Words…
These days when I listen to my husband, often it’s during a disagreement with the purpose of finding just the right time for the “mic-drop” moment that will prove my point.Are you really listening to your husband? Click To Tweet
I want to remember how to really listen to my husband. To retain details about work projects that might not be super-exciting on the surface, but are really important to him. I know that when I get details mixed up about things he’s told me before, it makes him feel like I don’t care about the things that are important in his life. So I’m trying to make an effort to not only hear what he’s saying, but ask questions about how these situations make him feel, to look him in the eye and take the time to make him feel important to me. Too often we listen with the intention of finding a window to speak, never really hearing the person who’s speaking.
2.) Find Something You Both Love To Do
The next way to love your husband like Jesus is to find something you both love to do.
We might be really different, but there are some things we both love to do together. Working on home improvement projects has become one of them. Just yesterday my husband was working on rebuilding a deck that we had to take down so we could have some post-earthquake foundation repairs done. He was having some trouble and I could tell he was a little frustrated. I had plenty of work to do inside, but I thought it might make him feel loved if I offered to help. He actually took me up on it, and we worked together. Just that short time helping him made a difference in his whole demeanor, and we got to a great stopping point and were both really proud of what we’d accomplished.
Now that our kids are a little older, we can do other things together like taking short bike rides while our oldest keeps an eye on the younger two. But my husband is usually the one to initiate these things. I’m going to try to suggest the next bike ride. Maybe you don’t have the option of a built-in babysitter, but implementing regular date nights by either hiring a sitter or trading kids off with another couple could be a great way to reclaim your marriage!
3.) Treat Him With the Same Respect You Treat Others
Another way to love your husband like Jesus, is simply to treat him with the same respect you treat others with.
I mentioned earlier that when our opinions differ I don’t always offer him the same respect and courtesy I would to a friend or even a stranger. The same goes for all areas of life. Overall, I don’t put him first. I often put outsiders first, the kids next, and him last. That’s painful to write, but for many years I’ve allowed the expectations and needs of people outside our family to take priority over my own people. I’ve come to understand that people-pleasers sometimes identify their family as an extension of themselves – so the people-pleasing stops at the front door. I have definitely had to make some hard choices, say “no” when the golden retriever in me desperately wanted to say “yes,” in order to consciously put my family ahead of the wants and needs of the outside world. I have in no way mastered this, but I’m learning!
What Are Your Priorities Showing Your Husband?
So I am committing to try and treat my husband with the same respect I would treat a friend or stranger, whether it means listening to his opinions that differ from mine or making sure that there are times when I put his wants and needs above my own – and above others (even our kids!).
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
I’m fully aware that it’s important not to be all-consumed with my kids or my husband – Philippians 4 affirms that we do need to look to our own interests as well. But just as there’s a time for everything, I really think there is a time to be selfless and put my husband ahead of myself, and it’s long overdue.
4.) Pray for Him
Of course, I saved the best for last. You might think this is just an obligatory Christian-ese tack-on. But I’m a firm believer in prayer. I don’t think it’s an afterthought; I believe prayer is the backbone of every single thing we do, and along with a saving faith in Jesus which makes it possible, it’s the foundation of our relationship with God.
I’ve become convicted that I need to pray for my husband at least as much as I complain about him in my mind – or to others!
I really try hard not to tear my husband down when I’m talking to other people, but I’m not perfect. There are times when my frustration with him bubbles over into a conversation and I overstep or over share. Worse yet, my “prayer request” for my husband turns into complaining about him (you know what I’m talking about…). But even just cultivating negative thought patterns about our husbands is damaging, even if the words never leave our lips. So I’m committing to try and catch every negative thought, complaint, or under-my-breath muttering captive and make it obedient to Christ by turning it into sincere prayer for him.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
Love Your Husband Enough To Pray…
Notice I said sincere prayer. Not the “O Lord, convict my wayward husband of his bad attitude and failure to appreciate all I do for him…” kind of prayer. But the kind where I pray that God would pour out blessings over him, where I thank God for him – even when I don’t want to. Even when he’s hurt my feelings, or made me so mad I don’t know what to do.
And I know that it’s in these sacrificial moments of obedience that a miracle happens and the Holy Spirit generates an attitude of authentic love and forgiveness where before in my flesh there had only been bitterness and anger.
Thus, the final point on my list is praying for our husbands. Because if we want to love our husbands like Jesus, prayer is a big part of that.
Join the Conversation
This is my plan, my hope. I want to become more like Jesus in my marriage. To experience joy in it. I think we can do both, with God’s help.
What about you? What are some tips you have for reclaiming love and joy in your marriage? When you read the title of this post “Love your husband like Jesus” what was the first thing you thought of? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!4 Ways to Love Your Husband & Reclaim the Joy in Your Marriage Click To Tweet