I wrote a post recently called the good news about marriage (and a giveaway!)
Reading that book prompted me to write this post. You see, in her book, Shaunti Feldhahn discussed the idea that most unhappy marriages can be transformed by understanding the simple (but not always easy) concept of love and respect in a marriage. It should come as no surprise that this is a Biblical concept. That’s because it was God who instituted marriage, therefore He should be (and is) the ultimate authority of how this union is best cared for.
“…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” ~Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV)
Many marriages get caught up in a vicious cycle of “she doesn’t respect me, so I’m not going to show her love” and “he doesn’t love me, so I don’t respect him”.
You see, our flesh looks out for #1. We, too often, look to our spouses to fulfill our needs without the willingness to meet theirs regardless of their actions. Sure, I’m happy to meet my husband’s needs as long as he is meeting mine first.
Herein lies the reason that God must live in the center of our marriages.
My husband and I went to a marriage workshop years ago at our local church. One of the books we read during that time was called His Needs, Her Needs. The facilitator of that workshop told us from the beginning that we weren’t going to seek what we want from our marriages, but we were going to look to fulfill the needs of our spouse no matter what.
This idea was such a foreign concept contrasted with the world’s idea of taking care of #1 first. We learned very quickly that not only is this God’s design for every Christian, but that it is a win-win proposition in our relationships.
You see, when we honor God first, we simply cannot lose. Even if our spouse does not respond and reciprocate the way we would desire, God is honored. We need to first recognize that this is the most important aspect of, not only our Christian walks, but our very lives.
Secondly, most of the time, when a wife begins to show respect to her husband, love towards her begins to flow naturally because he is receiving what he needs from her.
Conversely, when a husband begins to show love towards his wife, she begins to respond by behaving in ways that show him respect.
It is a beautiful truth that I have seen operate in my own marriage in a way I never could have imagined.
When my husband strived to have his needs met first, our relationship suffered. When I fought for his love while refusing to respect him, our marriage almost ended.
Think of it in terms of a baby dedication. We often have ceremonies for our babies in which we promise before friends and family that we will raise our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
When we get married, we are doing the same thing. At least, we should be. I think, too often, we promise to commit to one another, but maybe we should be focusing more on the promise to commit our marriage to God. Because once we do that, by honoring God first, the natural outpouring of that is for a husband to love his wife and for the wife to respect her husband.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. ~Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV)
This is a simple concept, but one that is difficult to live out.
When our marriages are struggling, we need to prayerfully consider our actions and hearts before God. I know it is not always easy, but the benefits are so worth it.
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Shared at Chronicles of Grace, What Joy Is Mine, The Modest Mom Blog, The Wellspring, Mom’s The Word, Soul Survival, Beautiful Ashes, Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, Time-Warp Wife, and Cornerstone Confessions.
You might also like 9 Ways To Speak (or not) Love Into Your Marriage.
What do you think? Have you learned the value of placing God in the center of your marriage? How have you learned to love your wife or respect your husband?