My pastor said last month that when we consider our spouse’s needs before our own needs, marriage gets better. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” (Phil. 2:1-5) Christ was humble and sacrificed His life for ours. He pointed out that this mindset is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
God has equipped a woman with the skills and the intuition if she understands it right to help her husband develop into a strong leader, to help him become a confident man, to help him with his deep need for competence and respect. Unfortunately, most women don’t understand that. So instead of helping develop this man that they’re married to, all they can do is lament that he’s not the kind of guy that they want to be married to. So they end up using that power that could build him up, and instead use it to tear him down.
As we discussed the other day, most women don’t like that word helper that we see in the Old Testament—that God was going to make a helper suitable for her husband. Helper sounds like a house frau who is just not intelligent, isn’t going to do anything but serve. But that word helper is the Hebrew word ezer, and it’s used most often of God—God is our Help, God is our helper. It’s really a strong word. God really shared one of His names with us as wives when He called us a helper. We can use that God-given strength when we respect and not tear down.
To build up our husbands and show our love and respect is to speak often about his good qualities. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I have taken the challenge to find something praiseworthy, something I appreciate, something I value in my husband and share those with him. And then I stop… there is no “but” in that conversation. And I’ve shared with others the things I admire in him — again, there is no “but”. So I’m talking to him and about him with words of honor, respect and love.
The change in how I talk with him and about him is changing how I look at him. I’m looking at him as I did when we first fell in love. And how he responds to me has changed as well. I asked the Lord to change me, to show me what He would have me do. And this is the path He showed me. “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Rev. 2:4-5a)