The Love of My Life

Today I had the unusual privilege of taking part in 2 separate pre-marriage counseling sessions. I don’t do a great deal of counseling and I don’t know if I’ve ever done 2 pre-marriage sessions in one day. Today, both couples and I discussed the importance of “love” in a marriage.

Because I only provide Biblically-based counseling, I primarily use 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in discussing love. As I talk to couples in counseling settings I try to simultaneously do an inventory of my own skills as a husband. Today was no exception. As we moved through the well-loved Corinthian passage I asked myself:

Do I demonstrate patience to Andrea?

It involves a lot more than just waiting on her to get ready. It also includes the attitude with which I wait. Sitting in the garage blowing the horn does not constitute patience. Thankfully, I don’t do that!

Do I show her kindness on a regular basis?

Someone once said to me, “I don’t need my husband to treat me like a queen. I just wish he would treat me as well as he treats strangers.” That quote haunts me. How sad that sometimes we treat the clerk at the store nicer than we treat the person who has committed their entire life to us.

How do I overcome the fleshly desire for jealousy?

For me the answer is found in the reality of oneness in Christ. If Andrea and I are one (and we are) then I can never be jealous of her accomplishments, achievements, or accolades. When she achieves something…I do too! Besides, if I love her like I am called to do by Christ, then I am too happy for her to be jealous of her. When she receives praise, I don’t think it could have happened to a better person :)

How do I avoid the sin of pride and arrogance toward my wife?

The best place to begin is to realize I am called to be a servant who sacrifices his all. The servant has no cause for boasting in the presence of the one(s) he is called to serve. Since there is no such thing as an arrogant servant, if I focus on serving my family then any hint of arrogance toward them will flee.

How do I keep from “behaving unseemingly?” Or as we say here in the South, “How do I keep from showing out when I don’t get my way?” Do I demonstrate servant leadership and refuse to “seek my own?”

Simply put, love doesn’t seek its own way. My natural tendency would be to act in an unbecoming manner when I don’t get my way. I believe the key is trying not to seek my own way. Then when I don’t get “my way” there is no shock, sadness, or surprise. In other words, this isn’t Burger King and Frank Sinatra doesn’t live here. (Hint for you younger readers: Old Blue Eyes sang a song called, “My Way.”)

Am I easily provoked to anger or do I have a slow temper and a long spiritual fuse?

I am not an angry person so this isn’t a really big challenge for me. But sometimes I carelessly break the commands of 1 Peter 3:7 and Ephesians 6:4. As a strong leader, I have to remember that my wife and children may see strength as harshness if I am not very intentional in my tone. In other words, the problem is not in my heart but sometimes in the miscommunication of it.

Am I a forgiving husband or do I keep a list of every offense committed in the last 12 months?

Honestly, I fail far too often as a pastor, preacher, husband, dad, and friend to be a list-keeper. List-keepers need to be much closer to perfect than I am.

What are some ways I can avoid rejoicing in unrighteousness but rather rejoice with the truth?

The biggest mistake I see (and hear) people make on this one is when they publicly denigrate their spouse. If I do not rejoice in my wife’s unrighteousness (or she in mine) then I do not want to bring it to light…to anyone. In fact, after the matter is settled I don’t even want to bring up to her again.

How can I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things?

When the Bible repeats a phrase it speaks of its importance. Here of course, the emphasis is on “all things.” It’s the AGAPE love of the Greek New Testament. The only way I can love Andrea, Michaela, Andrew, and Sarah this way is to stay with them through “all things.”

I know a lot of men who claim they would die for their families. With characteristic machismo they brag about their willingness to step in front of an assailant’s bullet to save their wife or kids. But frankly, I’ve never known anyone who was ever called on to make that sacrifice. I’m sure there have been some but I’ve never heard the story.

The call and commitment to die for my family will more likely play out every day in much less exhilarating and less spine-tingling ways. I am called to die for my family when the kids need bathing and my wife is as tired as I am. I am called to die for my family when the dog needs taking to the vet and neither of us wants to go. I am called to die for my family when Michaela needs help with her homework and I’d rather FaceBook or blog.

God isn’t calling me so much to die for my family as He is calling me to die to myself and to live for my family. Granted, stepping in front of a burglar’s bullet sounds a lot more heroic than taking out the trash or changing a diaper. But at least this way I don’t end up in ICU.

As I do a little marital inventory on my skills in being a “1 Corinthians 13 husband” I really think I’m doing pretty well. But by God’s grace, I will do even better tomorrow.