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How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways . . .

     I have a close friend who begrudges Valentine’s Day.  She’s married to a great guy so it’s not about sour grapes.  What she resists is commercialism dictating what she should do on a particular day.  Her attitude is rare among women--most of us welcome anything that encourages our husbands to express their feelings to us tangibly.  However, she has a point. Our culture does influence us to think that if our husbands REALLY love us, they will prove it by writing a romantic message on a card and giving us a gift! We spend significantly more time and energy thinking about this than men—and that sets us up for disappointment and sometimes even anger.

     Will you be willing to admit with me that what your husband does on Valentine’s Day is not the measurement of his love for you?  (If there are any men reading this, I am not giving you carte blanche to do nothing—as women, we like to know that you are thinking about us!)  Clearly, true love is demonstrated throughout the year through investments of much greater value--partnership, commitment, provision and intimacy.  In Ephesians chapter 5, the Bible tells husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  Ephesians 5:25 (NIV).   Jesus loved us enough to lay down His life for us, and that’s the directive to all husbands.  Trying to define that FOR our husbands is where we often go wrong.

     Let me redirect our focus for a moment. Let’s look at ourselves—the wives or wives-to-be.  As followers of Jesus, we are expected to concentrate on OUR responsibilities—not our husbands.  That’s a challenge and temptation that is always present. Our daily existence is filled with choices, just like Adam and Eve in the garden.  Will we choose life or death?  Will we focus on our spouses’ shortcomings or our own?  Most of us have heard what the Bible directs us to do. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” Ephesians 5:22, 23 (NKJV).  This is not about men “lording over” their wives, but about someone needing to lead.  God has set up the husband to lead the family and our role is to submit to his leadership.

     You might be surprised to learn what it continues to say to wives in verse 33. “…and the wife must respect her husband.” I find it interesting that we are not commanded to love our husbands, but rather to respect them.  Most of the time, it’s easy to respect my husband.  But how about when I am annoyed with him?  What about when I disagree with a decision he’s making?  What about when he’s wrong or sins—surely God does not expect me to respect him then!  Sometimes we allow ourselves to believe that God’s command was conditional and that we have permission to set our men straight, rather than acknowledge graciously that all of us mess up or disagree at times.

     I believe that if we ask, God will show us when we are not respecting our husbands. Instead of questioning how your husband loves you--let me count the ways…Ask yourself, How do I respect my husband…let me count the ways.  Do I refrain from speaking my mind with attitude when we disagree? Do I resist withholding myself physically when I am frustrated with him?  Do I insist that my way is the better way?  Do I pressure him to be a better spiritual leader?  Do I make him feel that I am superior in any area of our partnership?  Do I base my respect on his accomplishments or pay grade?  Do I tell him regularly that I am blessed to have him as my husband?  Do I thank him for his commitment to our family?  Do I submit to his decision graciously when we disagree?

     Regardless of what you are receiving from your husband, I encourage you to honor him in your thoughts and in all conversation.  Think of one of your most respected mentors or heroes in life.  How would you treat them if you were serving under their leadership?  How would you address them and listen to them?  Get a picture in your mind of what true respect looks like, and then ask God to help you live it with your husband. 

     As we follow God’s directions, we will find peace and His plan will come to pass.  When we try to change our husbands, we interfere and actually stop the work of the Holy Spirit, who is at work in them.  We cannot change anyone—but we can change ourselves.  As we align ourselves with the Lord, dying to our opinions, He will accomplish His plan which is far better than ours.  As we acknowledge our faults and weaknesses daily, we will not be so critical of our husbands. 


Lord, help us to humbly respect our husbands in all situations so that Your plan will come to pass and we will be true partners and helpers to the men You have blessed us with.   


Resource Ideas:

For more thoughts on Love and Respect, check out this website and the book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: http://loveandrespect.com/

Copyright © 2008-2015 Dawn Sheridan Kollar

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