Perhaps it is ironic that I am writing a post on marriage right after Valentine’s Day, but God calls us to love unconditionally every day of the year, not just holidays and anniversaries! The daily sacrificing or our needs, pride, and desires is much harder than sending a dozen roses on February 14th.
Perhaps your husband missed the boat this year, and you have unmet expectations. Maybe the issue didn’t start on Valentine’s Day, but it’s been affecting everyday life with your spouse. I’d like to offer some ideas for changing your perspective. Even if your marriage is the best it’s ever been, these activities can be a blessing! (Disclaimer: This post was not inspired by Travis’ lack of thoughtfulness this Valentine’s Day!)
Psalm 50:23 says, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” If we apply this verse to our marriages, we see two action points: 1. Speak positively about your marriage. Offer praise to God for your husband. 2. Have your priorities in order. As I’ve said before, when you have small children--and their needs are so clearly dependent upon you--it can be easy to put your marriage in “Survival” mode. I don’t think God is asking us to do as many things for our husbands as we do for our little children, or that we spend the same amount of time with them. I think quality and intention is what the Lord is seeking. Does your husband need prayer for his work situation? Do you serve him when he isn’t feeling well? Do you look for special snacks for him at the grocery store, just as you do for your children? Do you overschedule your free time, or do you leave intentional time to be with your husband? One way to check and see if your priorities are in order is to ask your husband! Take a look at “Marriage Tune up” for a simple exercise to do just that.
For me personally, as I admitted in “Letting Your Husband Off the Hook” the first challenge is the hardest. I fall too easily into complaining, when I should be giving thanks. Too often I think about how hard I am working, and forget to look around and realize Travis hasn’t sat down all day either! Here are two ways that have helped me in the past to improve my perspective on my marriage.
- Keep a journal of the thoughtful things your husband does. Can’t think of anything thoughtful? Start listing things he does to bless the family. Did he take out the garbage today? Get the oil changed? Prepare tax documents? Show up for work? Read a child a book? Perhaps you will have to ask God to open your eyes to the ways your husband blesses your family. I believe only someone in the most dire of situations will be unable to complete this step. I would challenge you to write 3 things every day. This may sound difficult, and it truly may be, but it is in the humility and the desperation that God often meets us. If your heart is to improve your marriage, this is a very simple--though not always easy--way to do it. Make sure you look back on your lists frequently so you realize how many thoughtful things he does!
2. Journal positive character traits about your husband. For example:
1. He is extremely diligent at work.
2. He is punctual.
3. He is helpful when I have a problem.
This one is more character-focused. God made your husband, therefore there are lots of great things about him! The goal is to open our eyes to them. The Lord is ready and
willing to assist you on this task as well! Ask him for eyes to see. Again, I think that three traits per day is a good goal. Try to go as long as you can without repeating one.
After you’ve journaled, tell your husband what you’ve observed! Even the hardest of hearts can be softened if they feel loved, respected, and appreciated. Of course my next piece of advice is to pray. Pray for your heart to appreciate your husband. And, after you’ve reflected on his gifts, if there is an area you truly need for your husband to grow in, ask God for help. These humble, loving prayers can be journaled as well because it is amazing to look back and see how God works!
Check out “Six Ways to be Friends with Your Spouse” for another great way to bless your marriage! May God meet you in your thankfulness and honoring of priorities!