Ephesians 5:31-33 Amplified Version
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church.
However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]."
Isn't it interesting that there is so much instruction for the wife and for the husband - to love his wife. Here is part of our story:
When I met Erik, I KNEW he was the one for me. I knew our lives were super different, he loved to party, he didn't grow up submerged in the church or a relationship with Jesus like I did, and his family was very different from mine.
From the moment, literally less than 48 hours from when we met, I told him I loved him, I knew I would never love another man the way I loved him. God did it in me. I felt it in my spirit and in my heart.
Our first year was not some blissful honeymoon event. Yes, we had sex, a lot, but we fought a lot too. We both agree that the single guy living next door to us probably swore to never ever get married! Erik put a hole in the wall of our apartment, our cordless phone went flying through the air ( I honestly can't remember who threw it!) - it never recovered, my chemistry book binding was busted halfway through the semester and I am sure I have forgotten other items that were damaged in the process of two young kids with hard heads and strong wills trying to merge into life together.
We celebrated our first anniversary in Idaho. We began really settling into married life then. It was just us. No family around, no friends, no one but each other. We found our church within days of moving into our first apartment. God surrounded us immediately with friends that would become life long family.
It was at this point when I began to see the man I married becoming who God created him to be. He had given his life to the Lord about a month after we met and he had changed from the party-guy-girl-chaser he once was for sure, but once I quit being a big cry baby, running home to mama and comparing him with my "perfect" family life (seriously deluded for sure), I started to see who he really was.
Our first winter was super hard. California girl moves to North Idaho, fresh married, completely void of all family to lean on, new friends in the making, what seemed like 100 feet of snow on the ground and barely money to pay the rent.
BUT, we LOVED our life together. We still fought but we (I actually mean "I") didn't have anyone to whine to. Long distance phone calls were more than what we could afford so we just had to work it out! We did. He did. God did.
I was no easy woman to deal with. Emotional, depressed, gaining weight like it was going out of style for no actual reason (later determined it was my hormones and transition from California style living to Idaho winter living). I gained 75lbs in 3 months. I promise I did not EAT that much!! Yikes! It was awful.
We began making friends who were newly married themselves. As the years went by I began to start seeing my Love as the man I loved deeply, growing with me in the Lord and becoming who God had planned for him to be.
I was changing too. The church (New Life) was different than the Presbyterian one I grew up in. Very different (that's another blog in itself). I was finding out who I was in Christ, not just hanging on to what I expected Him to be based on what I saw my parents and church friends living out in Cali.
I was still pretty critical. Reminding him how often he didn't measure up to the other guys when we would get together. I have never once called him a name other than his own, but my insecurities and immaturity certainly contributed to my overall attitude of dishonor and disrespect for the man I had promised to "love, honor and cherish, all the days of my life".
I cringe now at the tones I remember having towards him, derision and disgust for him not "measuring up", as if I knew what that was! We would fight, work it out, fight, work it out, talk and talk, fight some more, all the while his steadfast support and commitment to me NEVER wavered even though he was being tortured by my attitude and tone often!
We have grown up together. We have grown in the Lord together. We have survived crazy and horrible life events together. We have met challenges head on and talked all the way through them, even when we didn't want to.
Several years ago I read a book that completely altered our relationship forever. Love and Respect showed me every way I had disrespected the man God had given me to love. He put up with it. He got angry about it, but I just fought back, feeling justified and self-righteous.
I do not take him for granted any more. I do not push him and push him until he completely snaps in agony for me to stop demanding him to be what I want him to be instead of what God wants him to be. He is free to love me however God leads him to instead of trying to meet my demands.
And I am free to receive his love and pour ou the kindness and respect God asks of me. I don't feel like it is overstating it to stay that he now KNOWS that I appreciate who he is right now, not who he might be, or who he once was. He is free, I am free. Our relationship has never been more fun, lighthearted and rich with grace and mercy for each other.
We are not perfect. We do fight still. We still do not call each other names. We still have to work through our pain as individuals and as a couple. But we now know, that our challenges can be conquered. It is not easy. But we do it.
AND the best part - we have several couples in our lives who love our marriage more than they love us as individuals. They call us on our behavior toward each other, when either one of us is in pain, we can call on them and they will pray and offer words of wisdom, comfort and truth. We are free to speak out our pain knowing that whether I am speaking with a girlfriend or he with a guy friend, they love us both. They will never say or do anything that will be against our spouse. Only words of life for our marriage and our aching hearts. We return the favor when the time comes. It is part of God's gift to us. We work together to stay connected to these couples, consistently maintaining the relationships for the benefit of us all.
So, today, there is a lot to be grateful for. Each other, our families, our friends and most of all our God!
Who am I?
- Jennifer - Live Courageous!
- I am a wife and mother of 3. I have been married to my best friend for over 25 years and our children are 12, 11 and 9 years old. I have struggled with infertility, suffered the loss of a baby by miscarriage, and endured multiple career paths. I have experienced a crisis of faith that shook me to the core and lost a dear friend to a tragic death. I have had a personal relationship with Jesus for most of my life. The Bible and my relationship with Christ has been essential to my surviving and even thriving in my circumstances. I hope you will be blessed by joining me in this process of life. I thank you for showing up to read what I have written.