Our February ladies’ meeting at church was last night, and last month I thought, being close to Valentine’s Day, we might explore the topic of how to love our husbands. Then today I thought I might share that with you as well.
Usually other ladies sign up to bring refreshments, but no one did for this month, and I have lots of heart-shaped treats on file, so I did this one. Along with some small sandwiches and a vegetable tray, I made
Sweetheart Jamwiches from Southern Living magazine. This is one of only a few recipes I kept from the short time I was subscribed to them. Mine aren’t quite as neat as theirs — I was running behind and trying to get finished fast by the time I got to the end — but I still liked the way they turned out, and the ladies seemed to like them, too.
I also made Peanut Butter Kiss cookies, only substituting chocolate hearts instead of Hershey’s kisses.
My original idea for the ladies meeting was to have a panel of 4 to 6 ladies who would answer questions from the others. What I found was that most of the ladies I asked were very reluctant, feeling they needed to still be learning rather than answering other people’s questions. That’s understandable in one way because we’re all sinners and none of us has this down perfectly: along with the rest of our sin nature, we have to wrestle with our basic tendency toward selfishness probably in our marriages more than anything else. But, as I tried to share with them, I’d much rather hear from someone as human as I am than someone who acts as though they have it all down pat.
Still, I only found three ladies who would agree to be on the panel, and one of them called less than two hours before the meeting to say she had a raging headache and couldn’t come. So I put another lady on the spot before the meeting started and asked her, and she graciously agreed.
Usually we have a speaker for our meetings. Twice before we had open discussion types of meetings: the first time was on the topic of personal devotions, and that went very well with a lot of people sharing struggles and solutions; the second time the topic was hospitality, and that didn’t go very well at all. I think that’s an area where many of us feel inadequate. So this time I wanted a panel so I wouldn’t be the only one up there answering questions!
I had told the ladies beforehand that, though they could ask questions from the floor, if they wanted to submit them ahead of time that would give the ladies on the panel a little more time to think about an answer. No one submitted anything ahead of time, so I came up with a list of questions I had heard, read, or had myself over the years to use kind of as a starting-off point, and I told the ladies if we veered from there or other questions came up along the way, that was fine. I also told them that anyone was free to ask questions or make comments and that I wanted this to be a sharing time for all of us.
I was originally going to just jot down various points or principles that were discussed through the night, but I decided I would use the questions that we used as a framework for the different aspects.
I started with Titus 2:3-5:
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
I told them for our purposes that night I wasn’t going to dwell on who was younger, older, or “aged.” 🙂 We’re all older or younger than somebody. In fact, I was a little sad that some of the older older women didn’t come — they probably felt they didn’t “need” any instruction on this topic, but I think they would have benefited all of us with what they have learned over the years.
Anyway — on to the questions, and I will try to jot down as much as I can remember of the answers:
1. Several sources I have read indicate that the word for love in Titus 2 is the word for an affectionate type of love rather than agape love. As Christians we are all to love each other with agape love, which we can only do through His Spirit, but why do you think God wants us to teach each other that affectionate, brotherly kind of love rather than just commanding it as He commands men to love their wives?
Perhaps one reason is that we can so easily fall into “Martha mode” and get so busy serving and doing that we forget to just be affectionate. I know when I am super-busy, that’s the hardest time for me to respond in an affectionate manner, especially if I am interrupted.
I didn’t think of this last night, but earlier today I was thinking that most preaching we hear on a woman’s role in marriage deals with submission and obedience, and those are important aspects and one way we show our love to our husbands, but we can do both without any warmth or affection. Too, in that day of arranged marriages, many wives probably felt they were coming into a serious relationship with a stranger, and it would have been helpful for older women to encourage them in this way.
2. What are some ways that you show your husband that you love him?
This is something that would be different for each individual husband, but many mentioned just little thoughtful niceties that you’d know he’d like or things that he has responded well to in the past. One lady mentioned little notes in lunch boxes and other places. Another mentioned bringing him a glass of iced tea while he’s relaxing in the recliner. Another mentioned calling him at work during the day, not to report a problem, but just to say, “Hi, everything is going well; I just wanted to touch base and see how you were doing and tell you I love you.” One mentioned giving her husband her full attention when he is talking to her rather than being distracted. Another busy mother of 7 mentioned that, when her husband called to her at home, she had gotten into a habit of saying “Just a minute” or even “Is it important?” She got convicted about that and felt it would honor him to come when he called her and see what he wanted. She even confessed that to him, ad at first he just folded his arms like, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” So the next time he called her, she was so tempted to just call back, but she stopped what she was doing and ran to him to see what he wanted, and he just lit up.
3. What do you do if you disagreed with your husband about something? How do you know when to voice it and when to be silent and pray?
Many ladies said that, whatever you do, pray first. That will keep you from just reacting. Then if you do feel led to say something, the Lord will help you do so in a gracious manner.
A few emphasized to choose wisely in what you disagree about. If you’re always disagreeing on every little thing, then when something major comes along, it might not be taken seriously — it will sound like you just disagree out of habit or as a matter or course.
A few also said that they felt their husbands did want to know how they felt: they didn’t just want a marital equivalent of a yes man. But if we do voice disagreements, we need to do so graciously and not in a way that’s belittling. We also need to be careful not to assume or assign motives.
It was also brought up in couple of different ways that we shouldn’t assume they know how we feel. One lady brought up an example about how, when she was first married, her husband had a good friend who was with them all the time. She finally took her husband aside and told him she loved him and was glad to be married to him, but she almost felt she was married to this other guy, too. He just hadn’t realized how it seemed to her, and once she said something, he cut back on the time he spent with his friend.
A few other examples and questions came up on this point, and it was generally agreed that, if you’re going to discuss a serious disagreement, it’s best to choose a good time when there is not an tension or distraction, (one suggested making him a good meal first 🙂 ), and just being as gracious and kind about it as you can.
4. How do you maintain reverence for your husband, especially when he does or says something you don’t respect?
There were several thoughts here:
Remember that it is based on God’s command, not your husband’s performance.
Remember that he is only human: he is not going to be perfect. I read the quote I posted yesterday — I thought it was interesting that I found it in my files just in time for this meeting!
Colosians 3:12-14 was read:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
This wasn’t read, but a companion passage is Ephesians 4:1-3:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
One pastor used to say “forbearing” was just “good old-fashioned putting up with each other.” There has to be some of that in marriage: none of us will be perfect.
Another truth to apply is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (based on Matthew 7:12). When we fall short and fail, how would we want our husbands to handle it? My husband very rarely says anything to me about my faults and failures, and the fact that he “puts up with me” in love is a rebuke to me and a help in my response to him.
One pointed out to focus on his strengths, not his weaknesses. Another reminded that we have to guard against bitterness and resentment in our own hearts.
There was much discussion on this point about praying about the matter and letting the Lord convict him.
5. How would you advise a young Christian wife who says that her husband does not take the lead spiritually in praying together or having devotions together?
Not much was said in this point except that you can’t force it. A couple of people brought out the principle of asking our own husbands spiritual or Scriptural questions rather than seeking them from someone else (I Cor. 14:35a: “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home.”)
6. How do you carve out time for just the two of you?
Many emphasized that you have to make time for each other. A few mentioned a date night, with either getting a baby-sitter, or if finances are tight, swapping baby-sitting with another couple. One said that they only allow their children to watch videos or play computer games on Friday nights, and so they all look forward to that time and are “plugged in,” leaving the parents with some time for themselves. They had their restriction more for the benefit of their children, but it had the added benefit of creating some alone time for themselves as a couple.
7. What are some good books on the subject that you have read?
Already mentioned was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. A few others were:
The Ministry of Marriage by Jim Binney
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
Ribbing Him Rightly by Beneth Peters Jones
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Grey
One was also mentioned by Elizabeth George, but the lady couldn’t remember the name: perhaps A Wife After God’s Own Heart?
An audio series called Making It Even Better by Wayne Van Gelderen, Jr.
There were a few other questions that I don’t remember much being discussed in answer, so I left them off here.
I know I didn’t quite capture the spirit of the meeting, but I think it was good over all. I enjoyed it and it brought out many things I had heard before but needed reminding of. Several ladies commented positively afterwards. One even suggested we cover this topic at least once a year. I didn’t record a lot of the specific questions or examples that came up because they weren’t meant for the general public.
I think it’s helpful to realize that no one has a perfect marriage, and even those who have near-perfect ones now had their struggles. One lady whose marriage seems great to me told me afterward that though things are great now, there was a time that, since she didn’t believe in divorce, she prayed that the Lord would just take her husband home, because she just didn’t feel she could continue to live like they were living. You’d never guess it now! Even reading missionary stories, where Elisabeth Elliot, Isobel Kuhn, and Rosalind Goforth shared some of their struggles, was helpful to me in knowing that such godly ladies were “of like passions” as we are.
Though this wasn’t brought out at the meeting, it was demonstrated that one thing we shouldn’t do is engage in husband-bashing to others, and I am happy to say that in all of the discussion I didn’t detect any of that.
Another point that I didn’t think to bring out was that we can only be and do what we ought with the Lord’s help and grace. I remember once during a family conference, our guest speaker, Dr. Wayne Van Gelderen, Sr., pointed out that all of the instructions concerning family relationships in Ephesians came after the command to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18.
I know this wasn’t the most lyrically-written post, but I hope it was helpful.
What about you? How would you have answered some of these questions?
(P.S. — By the way, a couple of other interesting things happened at this meeting. Three times in my life I have had an optical migraine — the flashing squiggly zigzag lines in my vision. Only once has it gone on to nausea and a headache. Last night it started happing just at the end of the refreshments and before the actual meeting part. I was so distressed. I took a couple of aspirin and I asked the lady whom I called on to open in prayer to pray for that, and within 15 minutes it was gone — usually it takes about an hour in a quiet, darkened room. So I praise the Lord for that! One of the other ladies on the panel is prone to kidney stones and was having severe pain last night but felt she should come anyway. When I mentioned that another lady who was supposed to be on the panel called with a severe headache, this lady said it seemed like Satan was out to attack this meeting. I’m not one to see Satan behind every problem or obstacle, but I know he doesn’t want marriages [which were created by God] to succeed, so it may be. But I am glad God overcame many of those obstacles!)