February 11, 2010
Love, Respect and Admiration
"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 wonderful husband twenty years ago, I fully intended to unconditionally love, respect and admire him. I had great intentions of being the perfect wife, with sweet 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 got 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 the unrealistic expectations we imagine before the wedding, and real life kicks in, women can inadvertently get lured into tearing down their husbands, and their marriages as well.
In fact, the longer couples are together, the easier it becomes to not only see each other's flaws, but to mercilessly criticize them. This eventually leads to low tolerances, short tempers, minimal patience, and a woeful lack of marital bliss. As a result, those gifts of unconditional love, respect and admiration that were once offered so freely become gifts that we are not so willing to offer at all.
A few months ago I picked up The Man Whisperer, written by my friend and author Rick Johnson. The title intrigued me, as I was anxious to rekindle some passion in my own marriage Little did I know that God would use the truths shared in this book to step on my toes and cause me to take an inward look.
Many relationship topics are covered, but as I read, God convicted my heart about things I had said to my husband just days earlier. As I recalled some of the critical comments that had rolled off my tongue so easily, I became overwhelmed with regret and disappointment. I had fallen into a bad habit of tearing down my man with my words, not fully realizing the toll it was taking on him. Most importantly, I began to realize the powerful influence I have on my husband and marriage by simply choosing 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 woman has to influence her husband. I realized I had fallen short lately in giving those two precious gifts to my man.
I prayed, asking God to help me control my tongue and fill my heart and mouth with words that would make my husband feel appreciated, admired, respected and loved, regardless of whether I felt he deserved it. I prayed that God would 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 that unconditional love, respect and admiration that I set out to give him all along, and that I also wanted in return.
Through a wife's gifts of unconditional love, respect, and admiration, we can help our husbands become the great men that God created them to be, and in turn, create the marriages we always dreamed of.
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 for more about this topic and to enter for a chance to win an audio CD by Rick Johnson called Power Tools for Women
The Man Whisperer by Rick Johnson
Love Notes on His Pillow: And Other Everyday Ways to Keep Your Love Alive by Linda J. Gilden
Think about how important your husband's love is to you and consider that your respect means just as much to him.
If your marriage seems strained right now, think about your conversations with your husband lately. Have your comments been encouraging and uplifting, or discouraging and destructive?
Instead of chocolates this Valentine's day, give your husband what he really desires- respect, admiration and love.
Am I in the habit of tearing down my husband?
Do our daily conversations leave him feeling respected and admired, or unrespected and criticized?
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)
© 2010 Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105