Are you familiar with the term “woke” as used in our culture today? It gets tossed around a lot and a huge number of people seem to be pretty proud to declare that they are “woke”. Basically, the word (as it is being applied in today’s culture) means awakened to social injustice and unfairness and the lack of equity for all people.
Well, I’m probably going to offend the “woke” crowd by what I’m about to say. While the Lord is indeed a God of justice, and he does call his people to make sure justice is carried out for the oppressed, he does not tell his followers to fight for fairness and equity in their own relationships! Instead, he actually calls his followers to be more concerned for other people than for themselves! Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
What I’ve learned along my journey in marriage is that self-sacrifice and working to serve the other person is that secret sauce to a great marriage! And if you BOTH do that, wow! Your marriage will be amazing! However, if you focus on getting that other person to meet your needs, and wait for them to give equally back to you, you’re going to be a miserable, resentful, disappointed person.
Maybe it’s time to try God’s way of doing relationships. Try being anti-woke. Don’t wait for the other person to give to you and meet your desires. Give to them. Look for ways to bless them. It’s the secret sauce to a great marriage, and even if your marriage doesn’t improve right away, you’ll know that you’ve been a great representative of the Lord. After all, that’s how he treats us! He is definitely anti-woke in the way he interacts with us. He gives a whole lot more than he receives.
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.”
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you can expect that God is constantly transforming you to be more like his son Jesus. His Holy Spirit is gently but consistently convicting us of both known sins and subtle sin patterns in our lives, and he’s urging us to turn from those patterns. He’s urging us to choose to be more Christ-like. 2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory For me, he’s been slowly and gently convicting me and transforming me in the area of subtle self-focus. And I know I’m not alone in this pattern!!
We ALL tend to be subtly self-centered in our relationships. We want and expect others to make us happy, do things our way, commend our wonderful deeds, make us feel valuable, always treat us fairly, make us feel loved, and on and on. However, as we become more mature Christ-followers, God is urging us to be Christ-like in our relationships. He’s asking us to do what’s best for others instead of focusing on how others should treat us better! Take a moment to really absorb what God is saying to us in Philippians 2:3-7 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…
What does this look like in your relationships? How is God asking you to course-correct? It might mean actually confronting a loved one caught in sin and discontinuing a conflict-avoider pattern where you’ve made it easy for that person to stay stuck in a destructive sin. It may mean choosing to reflect Christ around your rude boss by being kind and humble no matter how he treats you. It may mean using a respectful tone with your husband even when he has disappointed you.
Reflecting Christ in every relationship is challenging for sure, but the eternal rewards are worth it, AND, you may very well find when you get to heaven one day that your Christ-like interactions with others impacted people so much that they became true followers of Jesus as well!
You want a quick and easy way to show respect to your husband and improve your marriage? Just notice a few small things your husband seems to appreciate and then…..do them! What a concept! I mean, why wouldn’t a wife want to please her husband? Why wouldn’t a wife want to be kind and thoughtful? Colossians 3:12 tells us “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” So, if you could do just a couple things differently, in a way that your husband prefers, why wouldn’t you extend that kindness to him?
Let me give you some examples. My husband always insisted that if we loaded the dishwasher in a certain way, it cleaned the silverware better. (I didn’t think it made any difference!). But, I did it the way he liked…because it pleased him. I knew my husband loved it when I left a little note of encouragement for him on the kitchen counter at least once a week. So I intentionally did that every week. I knew my husband really appreciated a clean kitchen counter, so I tried to keep the counters tidy. Why wouldn’t I want to please him in such a small way? I’m not saying a wife should have no opinion and should simply be a doormat for her husband. But I think God would be pleased if we stopped only thinking of ourselves and started thinking a little more about blessing others…in this case, your husband!
How about you? Could you intentionally take note of a few things your husband really appreciates, and then actually do some of those things? It would make him feel respected. It would draw his heart to you. It would likely improve your marriage. Sometimes, it’s the little things…
Our romanticized culture has led many Christian women to believe that they need to find their one true “soul mate” who will make them happy for the rest of their life, with little hard work on their part. Not true! I don’t see this concept anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we are supposed to be more concerned with loving others than finding someone who makes us happy. Philippian 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but I believe it’s important for you to realize the following ideas about marriage are actually 3 more myths:
Your husband is supposed to be your source of happiness. (Actually, God is the only one who can provide perfect love, security and comfort)
Happy couples never have conflict. (If you never disagree on anything, one or both of you is likely burying the issue and allowing resentment to grow)
If you find the “right” guy, a wonderful marriage will just happen. (Actually, a good marriage takes planning, intentionality and effort)