I have been quite introspective lately in the wake of my husband’s recent heart surgery and subsequent recovery period. An unexpected, serious health crisis can have that effect on a person. As I’ve thought about the early years of our marriage and how we’ve grown and changed as a couple and as individuals, one question keeps floating to the surface of my mind: “Have I loved my husband well?”
It has been heart-breaking to see my strong, active husband struggling through a major health crisis for the first time and it has definitely brought out the “mercy” in me. I have cared for him in a way that I (unfortunately) haven’t in years…tenderly, self-sacrificially, pro-actively, attentively. And he has been so very appreciative. If you have ever studied spiritual giftedness, then you understand me when I say, mercy is not at the top of my list of spiritual gifts. But that doesn’t in any way give me an excuse to not be merciful and loving to my husband (nor to others). Through this health scare, God has reminded me that I could do a lot better at showing mercy to my precious husband.
Here are some thoughts that have come to mind as I have evaluated my relationship with my husband and how I can be a better helpmate to him. Maybe these ideas can help you, as well, as you think about your own relationship, regardless of which stage of marriage in which you find yourself:
Have I let him know how much I appreciate his hard work in providing for, and protecting, the kids and I?
Our husbands put in countless hours of work and planning to make sure that we have shelter, food, clothing and other essentials. We sometimes take that for granted and forget to say, “Thank you for all of the hard work you do to provide for us.” We can also teach our children to show appreciation to their Dad in concrete ways.
Have I gone the extra mile to treat him tenderly and lovingly, taking the time for a back rub after a hard day…or making his favorite stove-top hot chocolate on a cold evening?
In the busyness of daily life and child-rearing, things like back rubs, foot rubs, cuddling on the couch, and romantic interludes can be put on the back burner repeatedly…day after day. Doing little things that your husband especially loves can really make him feel appreciated and cared for. The laundry can wait.
Have I established a peaceful setting at home and refrained from spewing issues and problems at my husband as soon as he walks in the door? Have I established routines that allow for some “kiddie quiet times” when my husband can truly relax in peace and quiet.
Sometimes its hard to hold our tongues…especially when our husbands have been gone all day and we have been stewing about some issue that needs to be taken care of right now! (Has anyone else intentionally let the kids continue squabbling or fighting when your husband walks in the door, just so he can have a little taste of what you’ve been dealing with all day? I may have a bit of a mean streak.) It’s so important to allow our husbands to decompress when they come in weary from struggling with the world all day. Hopefully our homes can be a place of peace and positivity that they will look forward to coming home to.
Have I allowed my husband to be a nature-loving, competition-seeking, “manly man”, as God intended him to be…or have I de-masculinized him by complaining too much about the time he spends enjoying masculine outdoor pursuits?
If you and I think about it, we really do want a “manly man”! Our husbands were made by God with different interests, desires, and drives than us. They were made to be strong, competent, competitive, protectors. It is detrimental not only to them, but to us, to try to change that…and it is fruitless in the long run. Let your man be a man. Give him the time in the outdoors that he needs. He will come home refreshed and empowered because it has revved that manly engine of his.
Have I been encouraging…or discouraging? Positive…or negative? Does my husband see me as a help or a hindrance?
In the weeks since my husband’s surgery, I have been his cheerleader. I have repeated numerous times and in many different ways, phrases like, “You can do it!”, “You’re doing great!”, “You’re getting stronger every day!” “You’re my hero!” It shouldn’t take a major health scare for us to become our husband’s cheerleader. We should be his cheerleader all the time. The work world can be tough with many demands placed on our men every day. They have a lot on their shoulders, including the responsibility for an entire family. We should be there to encourage and uplift them.
Have I made my husband a priority over the kids?
My husband and I are fast approaching the empty nest. Our last child is a busy high- schooler and is driving herself everywhere now. That, along with the fact that my husband has not returned to a full schedule at work yet, has led to a lot of time at home with just the two of us. It has been really nice! I love spending time at home with him. It has been sort of a precursor to our impending empty nest and I’m thinking we just might survive (insert sarcasm). It’s tough when you have little ones at home, but always make your husband your number one priority and make sure the children know it. He is the one with whom you will hopefully grow old, therefore, you should always be fostering and building that relationship. Actually, knowing that their parents have a loving and strong relationship makes children more secure, not less so.
I am thanking God these days for reminding me to appreciate the husband he has given me, and to show him more love, mercy, understanding, and attention each and every day! God is good and wants our marriage to be strong, fulfilling and inspiring…a reflection of his love for us!
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10 (NIV)
“But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord, God made a woman out of the rib he had taken from he man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,’This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:20-24 (NIV)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which bind them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)