Many Christians are familiar with the verses in Matthew 22:37-38 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
Well, I’ve been asked lately about how to develop this actual love for God. You see, it’s very difficult to truly love someone you’ve never experienced. You and I must experience the Lord’s power and love for ourselves in order to truly fall in love with Him. Otherwise, we have head knowledge from the Bible, but no heart knowledge!
Looking back at my own journey with Christ, I realized that I’ve grown to truly love Him as I earnestly sought His help through prayer and then saw Him answer those prayers in loving and powerful ways. I experienced God!
So I urge you to begin seeking the Lord with your whole heart. Come to Him with your deepest needs, but make sure you’ve done your best to obey Him first. After all, God says in James 5:16 that the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”. So, in other words, God powerfully responds to the person who truly seeks to obey His commands and follow His promptings. After you’ve done all you can do to obey the Lord, pray earnestly for His help. When He shows up, take notice! God just connected with you and allowed you to experience His love, power and help! Now, you have heart knowledge of the Lord!
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 withholding what he needs to feel loved, we’re actually sinning! James 4:17 says, “If anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
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. 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.”
Have you lost that “in love” feeling with your husband? Are you feeling like there should be more in your relationship? There could be some major problems in your marriage that need to be addressed. However, it could be that you’ve fallen prey to the notion that your relationship with your husband should resemble the thrill of new romance portrayed in chick flicks and romance novels.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love watching a good romantic movie like The Proposal with Sandra Bullock. I enjoy reading Christian romance novels. However…you and I have to be so careful that we don’t start subconsciously thinking our marriages should have that constant thrill of new romance. That’s unrealistic. There is no way we’re going to be “twitterpated” (like Thumper in the Bambi movie) all the time! Also, our husbands couldn’t possibly be as breathtaking as the men portrayed in the romantic comedies or as perfect as the men in the Christian romance novels! It’s all a beautiful delusion from the enemy who wants to destroy your marriage. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 11:14 “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”
And here’s one more caution. Did you realize that many romantic comedies actually promote a woman leaving the man she’s with to find the “true soul mate” awaiting her? Yikes! We get so involved with the romance story that we don’t even notice this is the case! Think of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. She pines away for the man who’s already married to someone else. In Sleepless In Seattle, Meg Ryan’s character is engaged but feels there must be someone better out there. The list goes on and on. So, let’s be careful to avoid unrealistic expectations of our men and our marriages.
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 we want to please our husbands? Why wouldn’t we 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 we could do just a couple things differently, in a way that our husbands prefer, why wouldn’t we extend that kindness to them?
Let me give you some examples. My husband insists that if we load the dishwasher in a certain way, it cleans the silverware better. (I don’t think it makes any difference!). But, I do it the way he likes…because it pleases him. I know my husband loves it when I leave a little note of encouragement for him on the kitchen counter at least once a week. So I intentionally do that every week. I know my husband really appreciates a clean kitchen counter, so I try 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 I stopped only thinking of myself and started thinking a little more about blessing my 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…
I was convicted the other day when I heard my husband tell some other men that he sometimes does things for me that he doesn’t feel like doing…just because he knows I will appreciate it. This was news to me! I hadn’t thought about it that way. I thought he WANTED to do those things! For instance, my husband gives my feet a little massage every night before I go to sleep. I thought he enjoyed doing that! He also runs a lot of the errands that need to be done for us. I thought he liked to run errands! He also makes sure there’s always a fresh toilet paper roll waiting for me in the bathroom just in case the current one runs out. Nice!
Here’s the thing. We often take for granted our husbands. Could it be that your husband is doing things he doesn’t really want to do just to please you? Could he be acting selflessly and you just didn’t realize it? Is he more noble than you thought? Hmmm. Could your husband be doing kind things for you that you didn’t even realize were a sacrifice for him? For instance….if he comes home from work exhausted and yet takes time to play with the kids or help you with some chores, that’s something to truly appreciate! Think about it and ask God to show you ways that your husband may be more noble than you thought.
Bottom line: Maybe your husband is really doing a pretty good job fulfilling God’s command to husbands in Ephesians 5:25 where he tells men to “love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. The question is: How are YOU doing in fulfilling God’s command to wives in Ephesians 5:33 where he tells women “the wife must respect her husband”?
I know what it’s like for a wife’s heart to grow hard and cold toward her husband. I let that happen in my first marriage of 18 years…a marriage that ended in divorce. Don’t let that happen to you. Your marriage and your family are worth fighting for!
In my experience, the reason a wife’s heart grows cold usually comes down to two things. She has not established firm, clear boundaries on disrespectful or destructive behavior…or she has expected her husband to make her happy and blames him for failing to do so. Could one of these reasons apply to you?
Boundaries: It is Biblical to lovingly confront someone who is sinning against you and establish boundaries in that relationship…with the goal being that the person will repent and be welcomed back into full relationship. Read Matthew 18:15-17 to learn what Jesus has to say about this. Also keep in mind Galatians 6:1, which says. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”
Expectations: If you expect your husband to make you happy, realize you have an unrealistic expectation! The only one who you can trust 100% to bring you fulfillment, joy, and perfect love is….the Lord! Make the relationship with Him your top priority, and once you feel secure in that relationship, your heart will likely become softer and more compassionate toward your husband.