We know what we want in a man when we’re young. Yet, we don’t have a clue what we need. An all-consuming fantasy fills our minds of what this man will do for us. He’ll rescue us from boredom, vanquish our loneliness, and whisk us weightless in his arms toward that multicolor sunset. He’ll be the key to our lock, the hand to our glove, he’ll be everything we’ve dreamed of since childhood. We’ll be so happy!
(Oh, if we could only go back and slap our past selves silly.)
Years later, our disappointed tears collide with God’s mercy as He wakes us from our self-absorbed reverie. We learn to stop focusing on who our husband isn’t and begin to see him as God does. We wake to God’s illuminating knowledge that He gave us this man for our spiritual good.
Welcome to Christian Wife 101
This series is meant for all wives, newly married and decades married, living the oft-times difficult journey of marriage who want to rediscover the blueprint for joy and peace that God made possible and laid out in His word.
I’m in no way an expert on godly marriage nor am I a perfect wife—far from it. But thanks be to God’s merciful Spirit, He has taken my past mistakes and opened my eyes to how I was sabotaging my desires for a peaceful life. When we try to rewrite God’s design, we will fail every time. But, oh, that illuminating moment when we finally get it: only God’s way works!
Christian Wife 101 is about getting back to the basics of what God says marriage is. Getting back to what God says a “help meet” is. Christian Wife 101 is a study for wives who want to thrive (not merely survive) in their role as a Christian wife.
What happened to happily-ever-after?
Have you ever looked up from your book or your phone, noticed your husband approaching, and resented the interruption? It’s a far cry from your ardent reaction when you were dating that fine specimen of a man, isn’t it? Back when you breathed happiness, fed on love, and life was good.
Like a bouquet wilts over time, the strain of work, children, financial struggles, and huge disappointments in your husband you weren’t prepared for wilts the silky petal dreams you had as a smiling bride holding your tender spray of hope and joy. You gaze at your husband now and your smile hesitates (something you never dreamed possible poised at the altar).
Too often in the course of marriage, hurts don’t get resolved or forgiven. Blame becomes your go-to response to pain. You see your husband as someone impeding your happiness instead of being the reason for it. All because you’re looking at life and marriage through a me-centered lens.
However desperately we want it to be true, happiness is not our right nor can we expect husbands to create it for us. That’s just fairy tale gibberish. “And they lived happily-ever-after”—bah!
Christian Wife 101
Happiness is a fickle child. It waits for the sun to shine in its favor before coming out to play.
No one can make us happy, especially a husband. We fool ourselves into thinking he should, but God never gave him that responsibility. Happiness birthed by the world needs comfort to live. Constant comfort. But TRUE happiness and godly joy can suffer and still smile. It has a strength not dependent on what it sees.
Happiness is possible when you trust God, not man, to fulfill your needs and when you accept God’s hand in every event, instead of blaming that same man beside you. (That same man that could do no wrong when you first met, remember?)
Happiness in marriage is a choice not a right. It is, dear wife, a blessed by-product of living a God-centered life.
A husband’s job
A husband is a teacher, confidante, buddy, handyman, a hero in his worn, all-purpose cape, lover, partner, and friend like no other. He’s also the chief mess-maker, schedule-interrupter, and keen noticer (like some personal Sherlock Holmes) who can detect the slightest change in your mood and spirit.
When it comes to you, the wife of his youth, your husband’s super-sleuth abilities give him the power to decipher a certain look, the set of your mouth, the subtle difference in the sigh of your breath, the strain or speed in which you go about your work. He can sense when there’s a nagging weight on your mind and when you’ve let the spirit of the world take hold of yours.
But this ability of husbands to sense our moods can leave us wives feeling annoyed. We want to be left to our thoughts, sometimes, without intrusion or explanation. We don’t want to be reminded we might be slipping into dangerous territory by wrong attitudes or actions. But that’s his job.
A husband’s job done right is to cultivate his family and oversee its care, tending to its physical and spiritual growth. You, as his wife, are his most cherished plant. “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table” (Psalm 128:3).
When we dare to live with a separation mindset, a let-me-do-my-own-thing mindset, a husband becomes just a man we happen to like most of the time, a man to split the bills with and share the work of raising kids. And he becomes an enemy-antagonist-nemesis in the midst of our worst arguments.
But that’s not how a godly marriage works. Like the Father and the Son, like Christ and the church, the blueprint and mission for godly marriage is oneness. We can’t be one when we aren’t transparent with each other, hold anything back, or secretly resent the role God gave husbands. But as you yield to God, you will flourish under your husband’s care. Because your husband, under obedience to Christ, will lead you well and help you stay strong in Christ. His is a job description of eternal value.
Christian Wife 101
You grow best as a wife when you embrace all that a husband is and was meant to be.
A husband for your spiritual good
Your man loves you single-heartedly. His role as a husband is not to keep you down (like you secretly suspected all along), but to lift you up, to help you become better than you were before you came alongside him “till death do us part.”
How better to learn patience than to live with the annoyance of your husband’s bad habits? How better to practice humility than when confronted with your sins by a man who struggles with his own?
How better to exercise self-control than to willingly accept when he won’t budge on the budget. Or when he waits f o r e v e r to make a decision that for you would be a snap (but a snap decision is not necessarily a wise one. Your husband is ultimately responsible for the outcome, no matter who decides).
When you see your husband as God does, this man becomes a friend to lean on, a comforting soul to give yourself to. He becomes your strength when you have none, a calm when you’ve lost yours, and a burst of laughter when life is dull or insane. I’m glad my husband didn’t stay the same man I was so eager to marry at nineteen—the man he’s become is far more dreamy.
Love and respect
Every woman deserves a man who loves and respects her. And every man deserves a woman who appreciates his efforts.
We tend to focus on the first part of this quote, don’t we? The part that drives our dreams of love and marriage. The part that hopes and prays for a man who will love us the way we want to be loved and who will respect us for who we are.
We don’t want this man to promise to love us then force us to become someone else. Yes, marriage will shape us into what our husband needs, but the essence of who we are, the substance of our soul, wants to be loved unconditionally. And that goes for him, as well.
Your husband has his ways and modes of thinking you may never understand. But he needs you to appreciate him for who he is (mess-maker, style-resister, chronic forgetter, contrite breaker of things) and not insist he be someone he’s not.
Yet, how often has his attempts to please you been met with false smiles and disappointment? You think, doesn’t he know my heart by now? Do I have to spell it out?
Your man, your strong and handsome, imperfect man, can’t read your mind (even with all your hints!) and won’t magically change into Mr. Tidy Rememberer (no matter how much you sigh).
Welcome the man God gave you with his outstretched hands full of love and mistakes. Thank him though he chose the wrong color, flavor, style, or size. (He’ll get better at it as time goes by.) Give him the gift of a genuine smile and the grace you’d want in return. And he’ll keep making every effort to please you, his best girl.
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall man give unto your bosom. For the same measure ye met withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38
A true husband
A true husband doesn’t merely love you and leave you unchanged. His love reaches past the surface of what he sees in you and desires more. If he’s a godly man, he’s aware of the seriousness of his role in your life. (And if he’s not aware or godly, that doesn’t negate his responsibility.)
Likewise, Christ loves us, His bride. But His love doesn’t leave us as we are. He nurtures, cultivates, and encourages growth in our fallow hearts. When we yield to the lover of our souls, we become more lovely through the pain of transformation (John 15:2) and glorify God as we bring forth our fruit.
A true husband works to nurture, cultivate, and encourage spiritual growth in you, his wife, that will glorify God and lead you to the kingdom of His dear Son. This work isn’t always pleasant—for him or for you. In those stretching moments, you wish he’d just leave you be. But like the servant’s reckoning in Luke 19:15, your husband knows he must stand to give an account (he dare not bury his pound). Christ will ask him one day, “What did you do with the gift I gave you?”
God knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). The best gift you’ve been given, dear wife—believe it or not—is your husband. A husband for your own spiritual good.
Abiding in the Vine,
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