Sometimes a marriage needs a tune-up, even bodywork to fix the dents. What about yours? With God’s help, your marriage can get back on track.
“Who’s your best friend?”
“My husband,” many women reply.
Is your husband your best friend, really? Or has he. . .become a roommate, a ship passing in the night? Has the spark flickered out?
The good news, God cares about your marriage. He not only wants you and your guy to communicate well but also to have your marriage filled with meaning, growth, compassion, and hope.
Here are two true stories. Names and some details have been changed.
A Stinky Story
Jessica’s husband stinks. He he has bad breath that could slay Goliath. He also is a mess. He leaves out his cereal bowl, the newspaper, his boxers. He misses the toilet, too, and fails to wipe the tinkle. All this is driving Jessica crazy. “If he cared about me, he’d show basic common courtesy,” she says. There’s more.
He flirts with pretty ladies right in front of her.
Jessica has had numerous sit-downs with her husband about other women, personal hygiene, and sloppiness. He deflects her comments, saying that she can clean his dishes and urine since it bothers her, not him, and that she can leave the conversation when he flirts.
A #1 Son Story
Susanna’s husband has a best friend and it’s not her. The best friend is their 30-something, college-educated son who lives at home. She thinks their son should move out. Her husband says he should stay and that she should do the son’s laundry and make his lunches.
Though he works, the son doesn’t pay rent, contribute to the bills, or help around the house or yard.
Susanna deeply loves her son and wants the best for him, and she knows his leeching is not only wrong, but also damaging to him and to her marriage.
What’s Your Take?
In each story, what do you think is an underlying problem? After listening to the women’s stories, what would you say? Pretend your their biblical counselor or spiritual friend.
At the core of each women’s plight is failure of the husband to heed biblical commands to love his wife.
“‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:31-33). Also, this instruction applies.
Without a doubt Jessica’s and Susanna’s husbands are not demonstrating love as God commands. I’m certain both men, and the grown son, have many fine qualities; otherwise, the women would not have married them.
Back to Jessica and Susanna
What is Jessica’s husband’s major mistake? Self-centeredness. His flirting borders on adultery. To her, his behavior says, “I do not value you.”
Susanna’s husband has misplaced affections. He chooses the grown son over his wife. In addition, he devalues Susanna when he demands that she do work that the son is perfectly capable to handle.
As you listen well, you note that the wives aren’t perfect either. (No wife is.) In fact each one has failed to speak the truth in love. While Jessica has attempted to talk with her husband, she also nags and belittles him. Susanna has said next to nothing to her husband about the problem and has withdrawn while her resentment multiplies.
Your marriage may also have ugly patterns that track deep. Did either story resonate with you? If you also feel hurt, listen to your emotion. Your marriage needs a tune-up ASAP.
Here are three steps to try:
1. Remind yourself that God loves you and loves your husband and that He wants you to have a fulfilling marriage. Even write out on a Post-It note or index card: With God, I can and will have a meaningful, loving, and respectful marriage filled with hope and joy. Or, if you prefer, put it in the present tense: I have a meaningful, loving, respectful marriage filled with hope and joy.
2. Speak the truth in love to your husband. In a positive tone, say, “Honey, we need to talk about our marriage. When is a good time for you?” Schedule your talk time. When you meet, listen to his side without becoming defensive. (Yes, I know this is hard.) Then share your thoughts and feelings. If many ideas are brought up, together select one to discuss. As you discuss it — for example, sloppiness — both you and he need to brainstorm possible solutions. Then together settle on the best solution for the marriage. Write down your solution.
3. Put it in practice. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to say it, and another thing to do it. Stick to your solution — and lovingly remind one another of it — as you drive toward your goal, which you penned in step one. Changes won’t take place overnight, but you and your husband can make new habits, a day at a time.
I’ve watched numerous marriages become healthy again, including the marriages of Jessica and Susanna. There is hope.
Do you need help in tuning up your marriage? As you probably know I am a seminary-trained biblical counselor who “meets” with women by webcam (Skype) and phone. I also counsel women in person. My office is in north-central Illinois. If you’d like to take advantage of my 30-minute introductory consultation, please contact me.