Loving Your Husband
Parenting is a labor from conception to death; both physically and mentally. But the physically-exhausting, bone-weary raising of several children around the toddler and preschool years is a unique animal. Narrowing it down, if I could give you two very important things to walk away with for the busy days ahead, two hooks to hang the events of your days on, two things to help you govern the endless choices you make 365 days a year . . . I would give you these two points: Love your husband and love your children.
It is my job, after all, according to Titus 2, to teach you these things first. It is also sensible, pure, and kind to live by these commands! Keeping these commands should also affect how you are a keeper at home. I am going to dive deeply into practical hints on how to love your husband and love your children, but the foundation of all that love, of course, is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Without your house being built daily upon the solid rock of His deep love for you, His example of humility and self-sacrifice, dependence on prayer, and submission of His heart to the task laid before Him, we will all struggle along in our own strength and power and generally mess most everything up. So know that love of God is the foundation of all I am sharing.
When you are first drawn to your husband, date, get engaged, and get married, he is ALL you can think about. You are content in that time frame to have him and him alone. This is good and right. After all, a family is a family even without any children. Genesis tells us: For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
Keep in mind, that children are not part of the one flesh. They are bonus rewards!
I remember longing for a child though, after the newness of marriage wore off. I longed to add to our family. During that time a friend of mine told me about a verse that had convicted her heart to keep content in her two-person family. It is Psalm 17:14-15. It says, “They are satisfied with children,… As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.”
This reminds me to be content in my God and in the husband the Lord has given me. If you are married, your husband is the most important human in the world to you. He is your friend, lover, confidant, boss and co-worker, holder of your hand, maintainer of your car, everlasting ride mate on roller coasters. He is the main reason you wear what you wear, cook what you cook, spend your day as you spend your day, plan your schedule as you plan it.
If we are truly seeking to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ, then we follow Christ’s example to say no to our wants and yes to God and others’ wants.
We don’t worry about dressing the way we want to dress and cooking only what we want to cook and spend our days only as we want to spend our days.
Paul even says in the 7th chapter of 1 Corinthians how we are not our own in marriage. Our very bodies belong to each other. In verse 34, Paul specifies as well, “but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” It is good and right and downright sanctifying to wholeheartedly pursue what your husband prefers!
For some, this means having their hair long when they might prefer it short. For some this means wearing a skirt every day because he loves it. For some this means having the house kept a certain way. Each husband is different and as long as he doesn’t ask you to sin, you should seek his preference in things he has a preference about.
This does not mean you are now a doormat and never get to choose and that you will lose yourself in this utter self-sacrifice. God’s intention is that a husband practices the same self-sacrifice of loving you in the same way Christ did when He died on the cross for us.
Your husband is called to die to his own selfishness and to serve you. This is why then, in a marriage that is seeking Christ, that a marriage can be one flesh. One flesh as God created it to be does not war against itself. One flesh works together for the good of each other, the desires of each other, and the glory of God. In a perfect world without sin this would be a beautiful dance of giving and receiving; of serving and being served. This should be our goal.
So now, add to this picture the ups and downs of pregnancy and the adding of children to the marriage bond. As you know babies arrive 100% dependent and 100% self-focused. They take up most of your day in caring for them for most of the first decade they’re around. And that’s just one. Multiply this by the opportunity for women to get pregnant every single month and you may find you have six of these dependent creatures in a decade.
So if you are like me, you may be asking: how can a woman stay focused on loving her husband in these labor intensive years of caring for 100% dependent and 100% self-focused children?
I have a couple of memories from this time frame. My husband is not too overly particular about many things. He can handle some piles around the house or a basket of laundry left unfolded, but I remember not long after child #2 was born he soberly asked me if I could not be wearing sweat pants when he got home from work each day.
Well, that I could do. He even gave me a helpful why. He worked in an office each day with over a dozen well-dressed women. It was not too hard to seek to please him by caring how I looked when he got home each day. I could love him in this way!
I recall other times when I had given up every second of my day to the little beings in our home. From 6 am until 8 pm I had cleaned, diapered, fed, entertained, disciplined, trained, talked baby talk, read books with only three letter words, kissed, hugged, had toes stepped on, and nose crippled with an accidental flailing arm. My body was exhausted and my brain was mush. After all of that my husband wanted my attention, too. In that bone-weary moment I was faced with one more mountain to climb. One more person who needed me, and no reserves in my own tank to fill it. What’s a girl to do? Put feet to faith for sure! This is one of those moments when we preach to ourselves and not listen to ourselves. The moment when we realize that the words “deny yourself and take up your cross” are not about getting a “me moment” or “looking out for number one.”
They require a desperate prayer to the Lord for strength in our weakness and joy in trials. They require one more opportunity to love the man who has been gone all day working hard too. The one who needs to cherish, and be cherished by his best friend. The one who you promised to be there for in sickness and health, for better and for worse…including your busiest day.
This is your best love. This is love that costs. This is Christ’s love. This is self-sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 13:10-14 says “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;”
And Romans 12:9-11, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
So in these labor years of parenting I encourage you to focus on loving your husband in the true definition of love. The worldly definition of love is not the kind of love that lasts a lifetime, and certainly cannot sustain in the pressures of raising children and the trials of this life.