As I was doing a craft show, a customer picked up one of my poetry pieces, reading the title out loud, “I’d Marry You Again.”
After she finished reading the poem, she said, “You must really love your husband.”
Giving her a faint smile, I nodded.
That night I asked my husband Mike, “Do you consider me your friend?”
Without a pause he answered, “Yes.”
And then I calmly responded, “Because I don’t consider you my friend.”
Now before you pick up a stone, let me explain. It was becoming clear to me that I treated my husband differently than I treated my friends.
In discussing this with the Lord, God showed me the problem. I didn’t honor Mike.
And then God began showing me what honor looked like. I needed illustrations since I had never seen it in real life growing up. My mother and father’s marriage was arranged. And clearly it was a mistake.
1. Treat him like a treasured friend.
God started with my eyes. He wanted me to stop rolling them when Mike said something I disagreed with. He wanted me to stop rolling them when I just wanted Mike to stop talking.
So I started working on my eyes. I kept them still when they wanted to spin. And after practice, I stopped rolling them around, but that wasn’t enough for God. He finally told me, “Now I want you to stop rolling them inside your head, that’s still dishonoring your husband.”
I started working hard at showing Mike honor. I listened attentively when he talked, and tried paying attention, though I was tempted to interrupt him.
God showed me all I needed to do was treat Mike like I treated my friends, and then step it up a bunch of notches. But unfortunately, that wasn’t all.
2. Don’t correct him like a child.
I sometimes corrected my husband.
Did I ever correct my friends when they were talking? The answer is no. So why did I think it was my job to correct him?
I learned how to bite my tongue when the temptation presented itself. Correcting him was not honoring, it was degrading.
This does not mean you should not share your feelings with your husband when you are in private, especially when something is bothering you. But I had a tendency to make issues out of insignificant details in front of others. And with each one, his self-esteem shrunk a little. Sadly, I didn’t even realize it until God shined a light on it.
3. Honor God first.
One winter day, I was in a hurry to leave for errands, and Mike stopped me with his words, “The defroster is not working properly.”
Then he launched into what he found helpful. And while I half-listened, I heard the words, “A dishtowel might help… wipe the outside of the windshield…”
I had already gotten into the car when it hit me, I had forgotten to get the dishtowel.
And God prompted me to go back into the house. I opened the door and let out a silent sigh. I barely took two steps, and there was Mike with a dishtowel in his outstretched hand.
He knew I had heard him. I could see it on his face.
Honor is God’s idea. Read Romans 12:10-11. Then it hit me. As I honored Mike, I was honoring God.
4. Forgive him as the Lord forgave you.
One day I had a conversation with my husband. “Do you remember when…” he started. He then described a particular incident where he and I had strongly disagreed. Okay, we fought.
While I zoomed through the files in my mind, I couldn’t remember what he was talking about. And his response was like a breath of fresh air.
“Oh, then you did forgive me!”
I sometimes stored past offenses, making sure not one bit was forgotten. Then at opportune times, I would bring them up to strengthen my position, while weakening my opponent. I didn’t forgive because I thought he didn’t deserve forgiveness.
I cringe now, even reading that line. For I know what it says in Ephesians 4:32. We didn’t deserve forgiveness, and yet we were forgiven. That’s how I’m supposed to forgive.
And when did I start believing my husband was my opponent? I guess it happened when being right became more important to me than he was. Read Philippians 2:3. God didn’t agree.
I had a fleeting thought from years ago, before Mike and I were married. We were on a bus going to downtown Chicago. Mike had offered to go with me to a doctor who was going to examine my back. Back then I hung onto every word he said. It didn’t even matter what he talked about, he had my undivided attention.
That’s what honor looks like.
God gave us marriage to show us a perfect example of his love for his church. And we can use our marriages to show the world what love looks like.
I’m not perfect and neither is my husband. But that’s not the issue. God wants us to honor each other, even with our imperfections. He also wants us to forgive each other and to be kind.
And when we struggle with it, God is there to help us. For what we promised our mate, we also promised God.
I’m smiling as I think of dishtowels and funny conversations we’ve had in our 40 years of marriage. And you know what? I would marry him again.
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of fourteen books. Some of which are: Her memoir, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, children’s books and poetry books. While Anne enjoys being a poet, speaker and published author, her favorite title is still ‘Grandma’ to her three grandchildren here, and one in heaven.
To find out more about Anne you can visit her at:
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: January 16, 2017