Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Valentine's Day is coming... How's Your Marriage?

I will be speaking at our local MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) this Thursday. The topic is based on Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal book, featured a few posts down from this one.

Since there are seven virtues discussed in the book, and I only have 20 minutes to speak, I chose one and will run with that. February is the month of love, so I thought I'd talk about the admonition Paul gave to Titus to have the older women teach the younger women to love their husbands.

Here's how my little speech will go.

One of MOPS’ ministry values, taken from their website, is the value of relationships including the male/female marital relationship, the parent/child relationship, and the ultimate fulfillment of all needs through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

MOPS isn’t just about being a mother, but also about how we operate in our most important relationships. One of the big ones is the husband / wife relationship.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching – so in honor of that super romantic holiday, I thought I’d talk to you today about some practical ways in which you can strengthen your relationship with your husband.

Feminine Appeal
I had the privilege of leading a bible study group this past year, based on Carolyn Mahaney’s book Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother.”

Carolyn says:
“Isn’t it interesting that our culture requires training and certification for so many vocations of lesser importance, but hands us marriage and motherhood without instruction? Fortunately, God hasn’t left us to fend for ourselves. He has provided invaluable wisdom for women in His Word.” The bible.

Did you know that the bible talks a lot about marriage? It even has sections on how we’re to treat each other within the loving bonds of marriage.

Before you assume that the bible was only for historical times, think again. The wisdom found within can and will transform your lives and souls. It is not just for pastors or priests to read, but for all of us.

Let’s take a look at Titus 2, which does have a little section on marriage:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Since there are so many good things listed, and I only have a few minutes to talk to you today, I thought I’d focus just on something that can revolutionize your marriages.

#1 Love your husband – in Titus, this word for “love” is the greek word “phileo” which means the kind of love between close friends… fondness, tenderness, affectionate.

When I was single, I wondered why in the world anyone would have to be taught to love their own husbands. Then when I married, and came to the shocking realization that my world couldn’t just be about me anymore, I really understood why we need this encouragement.

Yes, we all say we love our husbands. But do we enjoy them? Sometimes we’re so busy serving them that we don’t enjoy them.

Author Douglas Wilson makes this observation in his book Reforming Marriage: “Women are fully capable of loving a man, and sacrificing for him, while believing the entire time that he is a true and unvarnished jerk. Women are good at this kind of love.”

Loving our husbands with a tender & passionate love is not something that happens automatically. We married sinners, but so did they ;-)

Your Thought Life is Important!

One of the best ways to love our husbands is to think tender thoughts about them. Focus on their commendable qualities!

Elisabeth Elliot, in Love Has a Price Tag wrote:

"A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married live without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy."

I really like this 80/20 rule!

Handle With Care

Another great way to love your husband is to display tender behavior toward him.

Prize Him
Sometimes we can be so busy with our lives (the kids, jobs, volunteer work, school) that our marriages devolve into amiable business partnerships!

Take the time to express your love for your husband. It can be simple or complex. You know him best… what speaks to him?

A great way to prize him is to seek out your husband’s opinion on things before going to your friends. Tell him you’re proud of him when he does something that impresses you. Choose to spend time with him first, before your friends, co-workers, or the kids. Show him you prize him.

Cherish Him
Cherish means to hold dear, tenderly care for, treat as precious. Most of us vowed to cherish our husbands. How are you doing with that?

Knowing your husband’s love language comes in very handy when it comes to showing him he is cherished by you. For some it could be a wink or smile, or pat on the tush. For others it may mean sending loving notes, texts, emails. Yet other men feel truly cherished when their wife bakes or cooks something special for them.

Ask him what you do that makes him feel truly loved by you. You may be surprised by the answer.

Enjoy Him
Take interest in things that interest him. For example, my husband is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. Born IN Green Bay. Need I say more? He also loves old 60's muscle cars. So over the years I've watched countless games with him, watched car shows, and listened to a whole lot of tool-ish man talk. It's one way I can truly enjoy him, even if he loves things that aren't of high interest to me. My efforts to understand why he loves what he loves mean much to him.

Conclusion – we can talk about tips & techniques on having great marriages, but the bottom line is this - the greatest thing we can do is call out to the Lord to not only help us love our family and those around us, but to also help us love Him first and foremost.

I'll then give up the floor for our lovely MOPS coordinator, and I'll be looking forward to hearing stories about how our young moms are putting phileo love into practice in their own marriages.

Happy Valentine's Day... go love your husband!

1 comment:

  1. I'll add "Respect him." Make every effort to show him you respect him, and it'll become easier to love him.