What is true love? I think my beginning understandings of love didn’t really happen until I had been married 3 years. For about the first three years, I still had stars in my eyes and I was really just living in “infatuation” instead of living in the hard reality of true love.
Around the third year of our marriage, the perfect image I had for our marriage had begun to fade and I started to see things through a different light. At the end of each day, which was filled with teaching teenagers, grading papers, planning lessons and juggling a little baby girl’s needs with my own, I found it easier to criticize my husband for anything I felt he was lacking. It was around this time that I began to learn the importance of acceptance and affirmation in a marriage.
I used to sometimes judge my husband because he wasn’t like the typical “seminary” student. He was uncomfortable in a suit and tie and it didn’t bother him to drink the milk straight from the jug or put his shoes up on the coffee tableor even let the occasional swear word slip. He didn’t really care if the school rules told him to wear slacks instead of shorts and he wasn’t excited by the manditory chapel every day. The funny thing is…if God had allowed to marry someone who met my expectations for perfect, I think I would never have learned about grace. When I began to accept Darren for who he is …. A country boy who is more interested in being REAL than in pretense, I began to realize that God knew I needed a Darren to balance out my tendency toward legalism and criticism of external behaviors.
You see, Acceptance comes from a deep understanding of God’s grace. When we come face to face with the love of Christ for us, when we see that He loves us despite our laundry list of sins and disappointing failures, when we experience the outpouring of grace in our lives, then we are equipped to share that kind of grace with others – namely our husbands.
The next step beyond that is Affirmation: Men thrive on the encouragement of their wives. As wives, we are in a unique position to build up one person more than any other. A husband doesn’t need a wife to point out where he is making a mistake or to help him see the error of his ways. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Our job is to affirm what he IS doing right and to encourage him when Satan tries to bring him down.
Here’s a question to ask yourself to see if you are accepting and affirming your husband: What would others say about your husband simply based upon what they’ve heard from you? Would they honor and respect him? What type of image are you painting of him with your words…at home and in public?