By: Jenni Walker
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12
“Finally, all of you, be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9)
***Note to our readers: We are focusing on the marriage relationship over the course of this month and practical ways to put verses such as these into practice in the context of marriage. However, if you are single, widowed, dating, or even need biblical insights for other relationships such as with family, friends, or co-workers, we invite you to still stick with us this month. There are inspiring and challenging things to consider for us all!***
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Ah, Valentine’s Day. It is a day both loved and loathed by many. Depending on the individual, it can involve romance and passion while for others they experience resentment or pain. Amidst the candy hearts, the deep-red roses, and the long restaurant waits before dinner, at its core this day reminds all of us of our longing to be loved.
The namesake of this particular day was Valentine, a priest who was likely alive during the Roman era in the third century A.D. The Roman Emperor Claudius II of that time took desperate measures to maintain his Roman power: He outlawed all new marriages. After this decree, no one was allowed get married because he believed that unmarried young men would fight more valiantly and without distraction as Roman soldiers.
St. Valentine, at great personal risk, continued to hold marriage ceremonies in secret for young couples because of his deep conviction that marriage is God’s will. He ardently believed that laws against marriage were in direct violation of God’s divine purposes. Although there are varied versions of the exact timeline, St. Valentine was eventually imprisoned and later put to death.
While this story may not produce in us the euphoric feelings of love associated with the month of February, it gives us a serious reminder of the value of marriage. All of us who are married have vowed to love our husbands “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; until death do us part.” And while it is unlikely that any of us had to marry in secret for reasons like those under the Emperor Claudius II, our vows still ought to be taken just as seriously.
Your husband, despite all of his potential quirks, differences, and yes, even flaws, is the man you chose to marry. You stood before God and man and pledged your love to him. Over the next few weeks, we would like to present you with three important elements of loving your man and doing him good that will bring purpose, joy, and even romance to your marriage, not just this Valentine’s Day but every day!
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“That’s what every man wants.”
I was sharing a few of my thoughts about this article with my husband while we sat at the kitchen table. As Bryan munched on a creamy peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, he was listening thoughtfully. But when I arrived at a part about honor and respect, he chimed in with these words: “That’s what every man wants.”
Honor and respect. Do you prioritize these in your communication with your husband? Do your words convey that you respect and esteem him? Ladies, we live in a culture that finds humor in demeaning others. Sarcasm, put-downs, and eye-rolling are all considered acceptable forms of humor. But over time, they can quickly create a lot of wear-and-tear in relationships, marriage included!
We are called to “do good” to our husbands and to bless him with our words (Proverbs 31:10-12; 1 Peter 3:8-9)! Consider how your words can communicate honor and respect to him through the following ways:
Ephesians 4:29 commands us, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” As Christians, we are all recipients of God’s amazing grace through the work of Jesus on the cross. This should permeate every aspect of our lives, including how we speak to our husbands! “Edification” in this verse literally means to “build up” others. Do you use your words with the intent to build him up? How can your words impart grace in your home?
One of the things that Bryan and I try to do regularly is to specifically articulate what we appreciate about the other. It is something we have identified that we both need, and it is important to express our appreciation of each other as we live life together. For example, when Bryan puts out the trash and recycling by the curb, I endeavor to tell him thank you. When he likes a certain shirt or outfit that I am wearing, he expresses it verbally to tell me that I look “really pretty.” When he comes home and is weary from a long work day, I tell him how much I appreciate his leadership and his commitment to work so hard, both for us and as unto the Lord. When I help him with a project or we are just relaxing on the weekend with a movie, he tells me how much he likes to spend time with me. We work really hard to make specific appreciation a genuine priority. This not only makes both of us feel good individually but fosters a greater unity in our marital team!
3) Skip the Sarcasm
It is so easy when we are stressed or feel a little bit irritated internally to deal with it in a sarcastic way. For many of us, this is our default mode when our expectations are not met by our husbands. Guess what? Unmet expectations are going to happen sometimes in a marriage! John Eldredge writes in his book Wild at Heart, “Every man carries a wound. I have never met a man without one. No matter how good your life may have seemed to you, you live in a broken world full of broken people.” As wives, it is incredibly important to remember that our sometimes-stoic husbands still require a special sensitivity from their wives. You have the deep honor of being “one” with your husband. Sarcasm is something that chinks away at this oneness, sometimes without us even realizing it.
If sarcastic words or tones have crept into your regular communication with each other (even if it is about something else, not necessarily each other), identify and correct it now! If there is a misunderstanding between the two of you, skip the sarcasm and choose grace. When direct communication needs to happen, do it in a way that is free of sarcasm and, rather, that demonstrates the transforming love of Christ to one another! Wholehearted women, let’s skip the sarcasm and choose to impart grace with our words.
Over the next few weeks, we will look at two more biblical, practical ways to be wives of whom it can be said, “She does him good”: with our actions and with the attitude of our hearts. This week, focus specifically on making a habit of loving your husband with your words. Demonstrate honor and respect through edification, specific appreciation, and skipping sarcastic tones. Show your husband that you are his ally, that you are in this with him, and use your words to give life to your husband and to your marriage!
Time to Reflect
1) Which of these three areas (edification, appreciation, skipping the sarcasm) might God be asking you to focus on with greater intentionality in your marriage?
2) Is there an area of unforgiveness or bitterness in your heart toward your husband? Humbly consider the following passage that Paul wrote to Christians of the church of Ephesus. Ask the Lord to show you where words of bitterness, resentment, or anger may have become a part of your marriage. Ask Him to forgive you, and seek the Holy Spirit’s help to repent to your husband, too. This may feel initially uncomfortable, but obedience was modeled for us by Christ Himself (Philippians 2:8) and produces such joy in the long run as we follow Him (Hebrews 12:1-2)!
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29–32)
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