Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From the Heart of an Improving Wife

It's that "dreaded" holiday of the year for many - VALENTINE'S DAY! Others absolutely adore this holiday - they can't wait to get their beloved that unforgettable gift of the year.

For Rence (my Hubby) and I, we take the holiday very lightly - no gifts, but we usually write each other a short note saying those sweet things about one another that most married couples do.

But aside from the typical "celebration" plans of the day, I wanted to share candidly something I've been working on as a special "project" for my husband this year. Yes, he already knows about it, but he is very excited with the place I'm at and where I'm going - I'm not physically going anywhere. I've committed to improve myself as a wife as a special project for the months of February and March. I always want to be improving as a wife - but this journey is going to be even more in-depth than my usual.

I can't help but share several of the things I've discovered.

1. In order to be a Godly wife, I need to minister first and foremost to my husband. 

God knew the need for a wife in marriage from the beginning of creation.

Genesis 2:18
The Lord God said, 
“It is not good for the man to be alone. 
I will make a helper suitable for him.”

What is our purpose/mission as wives? 

Proverbs 31:10-12, 17, 28
A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,  all the days of her life.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
Her children arise and call her blessed;  her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

Daily Tasks/Mothering:
For me (a stay-at-home Mom), this includes doing the housework so he can come home to a fairly orderly house (as much as possible), making dinner as much as possible, taking care of the children when it's my responsibility, making wise financial choices, etc.

For others, they are called to be "missionaries" at a workplace daily and come home to their families/husbands in the evening. The bottom line is that we are to make sure we are doing all we can to help out at home, financially, etc. (he should be helping some, too, ladies).

Romancing my Husband:
Spouses must make time together a priority in our marriages (my husband and I will always be working on this, especially with kids in the mix). How?

1. In-house date nights: For instance, wait until the kids are asleep and pop in a movie and a bag of popcorn and cuddle on the couch.

2. "Out-on-the-Town" date nights: Babysitter!!! Woohoo!! ;)

3. Lastly, the "I" word - yes, the intimacy: It is a beautiful thing inside the marriage covenant, and it is one of the main ingredients for a healthy marriage. Again, this can be a struggle for us, considering the children in the mix and the fact that I have chronic illness. I don't feel well a lot of occasions, which is a common struggle for all of the chronically ill. We are overcoming these battles one step at a time. God is good, and He has a purpose for it all.

When I am fulfilling any of my God-given tasks, my attitude should be focused on the positive and I should be joyful. For instance, the Proverbs 31 Woman tells to keep our attitude in focus. In verses 10-31, she "works in delight","senses her gain is good, and even "smiles at the future" (we don't know what her circumstances were, but most of us can say that it is hard at times to "smile at the future"). As we see in this entire passage (v. 10-31), being cheerful comes much more naturally when we keep our minds on the eternal.

2. I must be open to guidance and correction.

It's always hard to listen to someone (especially the one you know most intimately on earth) talk to you about an area in your life that might be able to use some TLC (tender loving care).

One of the beautiful things about a relationship is the ability to refine one another - if we, together, are "equally yoked" (both of us are followers of Christ and on the same spiritual level), then we are able to sharpen one another's character, just as two strong metals sharpen each other.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.

So how do we go about correcting one another or accepting correction?

Proverbs 13:18
But he who regards reproof will be honored.

Colossians 3:19
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

I love how Martha Peace explains when we should correct our spouse and how we should respond to reproof in her book, The Excellent Wife:

"A biblical reproof is telling someone what they are doing wrong with the intent to restore them to a right relationship with God (see Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6:1). How you respond to your husband's reproof is a reflection of your desire to become more godly (see Proverbs 15:28)."

3. Where I am at personally in my relationship with God affects how I interact with my husband in a positive manner.

When I am more spiritually in-tune with the Holy Spirit (which gives us discernment of right vs. wrong), I am automatically (more times than not) reminded of how I need to treat my husband - with dignity and respect.

4. My husband deserves my utmost respect, no matter who is watching, what he has done or how I am feeling - that can be difficult. 

Proverbs 12:4
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.

It's sometimes easy to fall in line as a group of ladies eagerly share about their husband's latest "funny". Respecting our husbands includes trust....trust that we won't go "blab" about his latest plumbing mishap to the neighborhood clan of Momma's or wives at the local coffee shop. It only takes one opportunity to break a strong strand of trust. I think we've all spent some time re-weaving strands of trust with someone in our lives, and it's certainly not an easy job.

4. Forgiveness makes for a stronger marriage.

Forgiveness is the ultimate picture of love - it is what Christ accomplished as His earthly mission that took place on a cross called Calvary. Many times, this can be the hardest step in any relationship - friend, family or mate.

Matthew 6:15
But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Colossians 3:13
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

5. I married a strong man. But even the strongest of men have weaknesses. I married all of him - weaknesses included. Keep grace in sight.

I am a wife with plenty of shortcomings. I want him to handle my shortcomings in a graceful manner. I am so grateful to have married a man with so many strengths. But no matter how strong we seem or perceive ourselves to be, we are all flawed by sin. We are a continual work-in-progress until we meet our Maker. I pray that I keep grace in beautiful balance in my marriage as we deal with all situations, but especially our shortcomings.

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

2 Corinthians 8:7
But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

1 Peter 3:7
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Lord, help me carry out these goals in my daily living and in witness of my family this year and thereafter. Some of these goals are tough - forgiving others...grace... Father, I know that I can overcome through You! I pray that these goals would inspire other young ladies to join me in this journey of becoming better wives. I praise You for stirring my heart to become a better, more godly wife than I am today. I pray in Your Precious Name, Amen. 

There are several books I have been able to read and found extremely insightful in terms of the Christian marriage and the struggles we all face from our human nature of sin. Below are several that were most helpful for me and spiritually in-line with God's word:

His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage
by William F. Harley, Jr.

The Excellent Wife
by Martha Peace (for the Wife)

The Exemplary Husband
by Stuart Scott (for the Husband)

What's It Like to Be Married to Me? and Other Dangerous Questions
by Linda Dillow