I was in Target’s parking lot a few months ago and noticed a good-looking couple walking towards the store as my husband Jeremiah and I headed out to our car. I noticed they had wedding rings on. The woman was talking loudly in her husband’s face and waving her hands around. She eventually started chewing him out. It was evident, just in what little I heard, that this husband didn’t do what his wife had wanted him to do. She had no shame letting everyone else hear about her disappointment. As she yelled, this poor guy just kept walking and looking down at the pavement like a poor, pitiful puppy dog. I felt so sorry for him.
Jeremiah and I got into our car and I told him how I couldn’t believe how that wife had treated her husband. She made him look like a wimp who couldn’t stand up for himself. And the crazy thing is that it made her look even worse.
Loving your husband for who he is
That story had me thinking about the times I had regretfully embarrassed my husband, said inappropriate words, and didn’t build him up in private or in public. I could recall several times. In observing that wife’s behavior, God showed me how serious it is to respect and honor my husband. Building him up is a big deal that contributes to his self-image, masculinity, pride, confidence, what he believes he can accomplish in life, and so much more. And if he doesn’t receive that affirmation, he will look for it elsewhere.
Early in our marriage, there were things Jeremiah did that drove me nuts and there were quirks in his personality that I wanted to change. But over time, I realized and am still realizing, that God has made Jeremiah the way he is for a reason and a purpose. I needed to appreciate our differences, not just our similarities. Besides, how unbalanced would it be if my spontaneous, intellectual, adventurous, visionary husband were just like his structured, relational, cautious, realistic wife?
Discovering and appreciating differences
I noticed that at times I wouldn’t build him up or respect him because he wasn’t thinking or doing things the way I would. It took several hard and painful conversations to see that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my opinion isn’t always spot on. Besides, he is the leader in our marriage. I started out on a journey to discover who Jeremiah really was and to appreciate him for those things. Most of all, I prayed that God would help me get my eyes off myself and my “wants.”
Last year in my seminary wives Bible study, we read through the book Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow and had the privilege of hearing Linda speak at a conference on campus recently. She challenged us as wives to answer the following questions about our husbands, which are included in her book:
- Do you really know your husband?
- What is the happiest thing that has ever happened to your husband?
- What has been the hardest experience of his life?
- What are his secret ambitions, his goals for life?
- What are his deep fears?
- What about you does he appreciate the most?
- What traits of you would he like to see changed?
- What man or men does he most admire?
Your husband’s number one fan
I wrote down my answers and one night before bed I let Jeremiah read through my responses. He absolutely loved that I was on target for every question! He was impressed that I could put into words the deepest desires of his heart. He said several times, “I didn’t know you remembered that.” Of course I felt proud that I did.
Discussing those questions and answers made him feel affirmed in how much I loved, respected, and cared for him. It encouraged both of us to keep at it with our communication. Soon, he plans on answering the same questions about me. Affirming and building up my husband doesn’t always come naturally and I’m imperfect at times. But I’m so encouraged that through Christ’s strength, it is possible to be the wife God wants me to be and to show my husband that I am most definitely his number one fan.