We’re all struggling with something. It could be your marriage or your kids or your finances or your health or the political divisiveness that is separating longtime friends! Often when we’re in the middle of a big challenge, we can feel very alone, even if we’re surrounded by people. It seems like no one really understands what we’re going through. We feel all alone in the battle.
But we’re not alone! And this is not just a Christian bumper sticker or a warm and fuzzy saying on a Christian greeting card. As some of you know, I lost my husband Raul to covid in November of 2021. He was the love of my life, my companion, my best friend, my encourager, my partner in ministry, and so much more. Talk about feeling alone when he departed this earth!
For several months, I grieved, and that is totally appropriate and necessary. That grief turned even more heavy when I realized I was all alone. I might have family and friends, but I had lost my constant companion and best friend and partner in life. But then I sensed God bringing to mind some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples. In Matthew 28:20 he told his disciples something HUGE! “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
God was reminding me that Jesus is truly with me…every day…in every struggle…during my reflective morning coffee time to my search for guidance during the middle of a struggle. He is my constant companion. Yes, I have since remarried, but we will ALL still feel alone in life’s challenges from time to time. I’m finding that in the middle of every challenge, the question has changed from “What should I do?” to “What should WE do, Jesus?” I’m even inviting Jesus to join me during mundane tasks and grocery shopping and an afternoon walk. He is always with me. I’m not alone. Is it time to invite Jesus to be your constant companion?
There’s certainly nothing wrong with being a confident and capable woman. In fact, I usually feel pretty strong, confident, and capable. However, over the years of my marriage to Raul, I realized something very important to the health of my marriage. I needed to allow my husband to be needed by me! When I acted like he wasn’t needed, I could sense that he felt emasculated. Your husband probably might feel that way too.
Men are wired by God to be leaders. In fact, in Ephesians 5:22-24, God makes it pretty clear that the husband is the leader, not the wife! “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
So, even though you are a strong capable woman, give room for your husband to lead. Avoid making all the decisions for your family. Ask him to make some decisions. Even though you’re perfectly capable, ask him to help you with some projects. Yes, you can re-arrange the living room furniture without his help, but he will enjoy being needed by you if you ask him to lift the heavy furniture. (And don’t forget to admire his muscles!)
My late husband and I had some interesting conversations over the years about a man’s need for respect and honor. One of things he mentioned several times is how devastating it is for a man to hear his wife criticize him or make fun of him in front of other people. Even if she is trying to be funny, and even if he seems to be laughing along with everyone else, most men are quite offended by this and feel disrespected by the one person who is supposed to be for them…their wife!
So, this is just a brief reminder for all of us to be ever so careful with our men’s fragile hearts. Even though I thought my husband’s little quirks were funny, it was probably not a brilliant idea for me to share those quirks with other people! Even though I thought one of his blunders was hilarious, I realized he was going to feel disrespected if I shared that funny story with others. Let’s all be vigilant in protecting our men’s hearts. They so desire our respect, especially in public. Maybe we all need to quote Ephesians 5:33 every morning before we start our day. It very simply says, “The wife must respect her husband.”
Many of you are probably familiar with the 5 love languages as explained by Christian counselor and author Gary Chapman, but I’m pretty sure that many of us are making some mistakes when trying to use the “love languages”.
Before I go any further, let me explain the theory of the love languages and give a brief description of each one. The idea is that every person has one or two prominent ways that they receive the message they are loved by the other person in the relationship. Also, if the other person fails to communicate in your dominant “love language”, you may feel unloved. The 5 love languages are: word of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and gifts.
Here’s where a lot of us make a mistake. We tend to try to communicate love to the other person in the love language that we prefer….the particular way that makes us feel loved….even though that may not be the other person’s love language at all! It’s a natural tendency to want to give love in the way that seems meaningful to you. However, it may not mean much of anything to that other person if that’s not their primary love language! The Bible tells us in Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. But that doesn’t mean devote yourself to showing love in the way YOU want to receive it!
I had that light bolt realization the other day. I was feeling kind of frustrated because my attempts to show love seemed to fall flat, to go unnoticed, and to be totally unappreciated. What? Then I stepped back and realized I was trying to show love in my love language, not his! Duh! I also realized that I was expending a lot of energy trying to communicate love in a way that really wasn’t important to him. Have you been doing the same thing? Maybe it’s time to talk with the other person about which love language is most meaningful to him and then start actually speaking that particular love language instead of your own! It will save you time, energy, and frustration, and it will bring the message of love to him!
You’ve probably heard of the “Five Love Languages”. It’s something Christian author and psychologist Gary Chapman figured out about how people are wired in terms of receiving love. The love languages are: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gifts. Well, here’s something I’ve learned after talking with many wives whose husbands have completed the love language assessment. Almost all men have “physical touch” as one of their top 2 love languages.
Ladies, this means your husband craves not just sex, but little signs of physical affection throughout the day. When you do these small things, he feels loved by you. So, why wouldn’t you give him the physical affection that you know would bless him? By purposely withholding what he needs to feel loved, could it be that we’re actually sinning? Listen to what God says in James 4:17: “If anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Oh my.
Here are several ideas on how you can communicate love through physical touch. Reach out to hold his hand as you walk through the store. Give him a 20 second neck and shoulder rub as you’re walking by. Pinch his tush as he walks through the kitchen. Lean over his shoulder while he’s on the computer and give him a kiss. Rest your hand on his leg while you’re sitting together on the couch watching TV. Run your fingers through his hair. These small acts of physical touch are totally easy and yet they mean so much to most husbands. Try it!
We all inevitably go through stretches in our marriages (or with kids, finances, health, etc!) that are pretty rough on our hearts. Yes, we can persevere, pray, and trust in God during those times, and all those things are super important. But sometimes, we just plain need comfort. We need to sit in the lap of our heavenly father and have Him hold us tight.
Here is what I have discovered. Reading the Psalms slowly and out loud is like a warm embrace from my heavenly Father. As those words roll off my lips, I can almost feel His love and compassion flow over me. I sense the tenderness of His heart toward me. I gain hope once again.
Try it for yourself. I would suggest some of these Psalms: Psalm 103, Psalm 91, Psalm 34, and Psalm 37. God longs to comfort you. He loves you. As Psalm 103 says, “Our Father is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.”
All wives inevitably hit a rough patch or two in their marriage. In fact, there will likely be moments when you think “Why did I even marry this man?!” He may break a little piece of your heart when he forgets your anniversary, or is overly harsh with the kids, or develops a habit of satisfying himself while viewing pornography instead of making love to you. At these moments, you need comfort for your broken heart.
It’s our tendency to reach for something easy and tangible as a source of comfort. You might try to find some joy in buying lots of new clothes. YouI might turn to excessive food. But neither one of those choices truly comforts us. They actually lead to additional grief in the long run! Instead, we need to train ourselves to run to God at those heart-breaking moments. He is waiting with open arms. Plus, Jesus knows what it feels like to suffer grief, betrayal, and a broken heart.
I love these two verses of comfort. Psalm 103:2-4 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”. And Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. Meditate on those 2 verses and ask God to come close to you. He will, and I believe you will experience the warmth of his love!
One additional tip: I’ve found it especially helpful to find a quiet place of solitude (no cell phone, no noise!) where I can just sit with the Lord in stillness for 5 or 10 minutes, letting his peace and comfort wash over me.