We’ve all had ideas of what the ideal romance is. When you were younger, it may have been images of a knight in shining armor, bravely rescuing the princess. As you grew older, it might have transformed into the classic tall, dark, and handsome stranger that would sweep you off his feet with his charm, wit, and personality. And then, the day came when you met the one. You knew you were destined to be soulmates, and you couldn’t wait for decades of marital bliss.
Finally, you got married. And you quickly learned that, while marriage is wonderful, it’s not exactly that picture perfect image Hallmark makes it out to be. In fact, you began to realize that your Prince Charming has quite a few flaws.
While you’ve told yourself multiple times that no marriage is perfect, you can’t help but look at couples around you that have been married 25, 30, even 50 years and wonder, What’s the secret? How do they still have a happy marriage?
Ephesians 5:18 and 21–22 lets us in on God’s formula for a happy marriage—being Spirit-filled.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit… Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God…Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Being spirit-filled isn’t easy because our flesh craves to satisfy itself. God, however, commands us to walk in his spirit. In fact, until we choose to do so, our marriage cannot be what He intended it to be.
Be filled with the Spirit is probably a phrase you’ve heard frequently. But what does it mean? Let’s look at three attitudes always present in a Spirit filled marriage.
A surrendered attitude.
Being Spirit-filled requires the right foundation—being surrendered to the Lord. Romans 12:1-2 says:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
If you’re not surrendered to the Lord, you’re never going to have a Spirit-filled attitude towards your husband. Surrender is a life-long process. But it begins with a daily attitude of, I give up my rights, God, and I trust you.
A submissive attitude.
I get it—submit isn’t a popular word in our society. Our flesh fights against submitting to any authority, particularly to our husband. How many times have we thought, He can’t tell me what to do! I’m an independent woman.
Our marriage won’t be what God wants it to be if we refuse to submit. If, on the other hand, we choose to submit, a wonderful chain reaction occurs. Through our submission, our husband feel respected. And, as he fulfills his role to love us as Christ loved the church, we receive the security we crave.
Is being submissive easy? Of course not. Does it mean you act like a doormat and never voice your opinion? Absolutely not. It does mean, however, that you have a supportive attitude to your husband’s leading and that you submit to his final decision.
A sensitive attitude.
Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s all in the details”? That’s true with marriage. How sensitive are you to little things you know matter to your husband? Make it your mission to know your husband’s likes on dislikes. Go out of your way to make him feel special whenever you can.
Stumped? Here are a few ideas to try today:
- A note in his Bible
- Sewing on a button
- Making sure he has enough covers at night
- Warm towel after a shower
- Toothpaste on his toothbrush
- Take HIM to lunch
- Buying his favorite peanut butter, ice cream
- Breakfast in bed
- Shine his shoes
- Give him a back rub, foot
- Wink at him
- Bring him a drink when he didn’t ask
- Anticipate his wants
- Squeeze his hand
- Let him lick the spoon
- Compliment his tie
Many marriages hit rough patches, not because of some major sin like adultery or pornography, but because each spouse forgets about the small acts of service that makes marriage a delight.
Marriage should be something that you can look back on two decades from now and say, “It just kept getting better and better.” But remember, attitude is everything. Determine to adopt an attitude of constant surrender to the Lord. Choose to be submissive to your husband’s leading. Finally, strive to be sensitive to the little things that add up to make marriage special. As you allow the Holy Spirit to fill you, you’ll find that marriage can be better than anything you ever pictured.
What did it feel like as you prepared to walk down the aisle on your wedding day? Were there butterflies in your stomach? Excitement like you didn’t know was possible? Once, I heard about a bride who was so nervous that she doubted she could make it to the front of the church.
To settle her nerves, her mom said, “You just need to concentrate on three things. First, think about walking down the aisle—just one foot in front of the other. Second, imagine the altar. That’s where you’ll say your vows and become one. Finally, think about the hymn being sung as you walk. Concentrating on the words will get your mind off your nerves.”
With that, the bride took a deep breath and stood at the back of the church. When the music started, the guests turned to notice her seeming confidence. Yet they began to smile as she got closer to them. Under her breath, she kept repeating three words: aisle, altar, hymn.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, we look at our husbands as our own personal renovation project. We tell ourselves, “No worries. I’ll alter him.” But that’s not our job. The Bible is filled with instruction on how we change into the image of Christ, but never once does it give instructions on how to change your husband.
I’m not saying that your husband is perfect or that you’re a horrible wife for wanting your husband to change. The reality is, however, that we can’t change our husbands—only God can change them. Our job is to be the right partner for our husbands, and that begins by understanding our role as a helpmeet.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.—Genesis 2:18
That’s an incredible thought—God created us to be a helpmeet to our husband.
But let’s get practical. What does being a helpmeet look like every day?
1. Continue investing in your marriage.
Think back to your wedding vows. They weren’t merely a couple of traditional words you said to each other—they were vows to God that you were committed to one another for the long haul.
Your husband needs to feel secure in his relationship with you. Never threaten him with divorce—in fact, remove it from your vocabulary entirely. Don’t let your mind wander to imaginary scenarios. (What if I’d married that guy I used to date in college?…If only my husband were like my co-worker—I bet he never leaves wet rags in the laundry basket…Why doesn’t my husband bring me flowers?) Take those thoughts captive—they breed discontentment.
You have to be committed to improving your marriage. If you’re not 100% invested in making your marriage the best it can be, you’re not completely fulfilling your role as helpmeet.
2. Be your husband’s companion.
Make your husband your best friend. When you have exciting news you’re just bursting to tell, your husband should be the first person you go to. He should be the one you run to when you need a shoulder to cry on or counsel and support.
Make your marriage relationship fun! Leave love notes around the house. Have a special language just for you and your husband—secret signs that say I love you or made up words to say in public that only you two know. Go on the craziest date idea that you can think of. Yes, you are husband and wife, but you should also be best friends.
3. Fulfill your role as a completer.
How’s your team spirit? No, I’m not asking if you wear face paint, crazy hats, and wave poster board signs to cheer on your husband. But remember, marriage is not an individual sport. We should not be pursuing separate, competitive lives, but working together, overlooking each other’s faults and weaknesses for the great good of the marriage. Look for specific ways to help your husband achieve his goals. Be his cheerleader and let him know that you believe in him. Let him bounce ideas off you, knowing that you won’t ridicule him. Do all that you can to support and build your husband.
As our husband’s other half, we have an incredible amount of influence. In fact, we have the power to keep him from being the man God wants him to be or to encourage him in fulfilling his God-given purpose. So what are you waiting for? Commit to your role as a helpmeet by applying these three things to your marriage every day.
Terrie is married to Dr. Paul Chappell pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church They have four married children and nine grandchildren. Terrie loves spending time with her family and serving the Lord with her husband. Together, they just wrote a book on marriage titled “Are We There Yet?” in which they share many personal illustrations and practical applications. To learn more about the book, visit AreWeThereYetBook.com.
Avoiding a Critical Spirit
I enjoy cooking, finding recipes, and sharing new meals with my family and guests who visit our home. Because of my love for cooking, I get especially excited when I have the opportunity to visit a restaurant that I have read about or seen advertised. And, if I happen to have the chance to eat at one of these restaurants, I always look to see what the critics have said about the food, décor, and overall dining experience.
Several years ago, my husband and I were in the New York area, and we went to a restaurant that came highly recommended by all food critics who had eaten there. I was eagerly anticipating the meal and couldn’t wait to share this fun experience with my husband. But, much to my disappointment, while our meal wasn’t exactly terrible, it was definitely underwhelming. I left a little disappointed in the restaurant and its critics.
A couple of years later, I was with my husband on the West Coast, and we had the opportunity to visit another restaurant that had been featured in magazines and news clips. Again, I was very excited, and I sent a text to one of my daughters, letting her know that we would be able to visit. She replied that she was glad for me, but warned that the critics’ reviews weren’t very good and told me not to get my hopes up.
I tried to prepare my expectations for what was to come as we walked into the restaurant. But, we were pleasantly surprised when the food we ordered was amazing! Every bite was delightful and the entire experience – from décor to dessert – was overwhelmingly positive.
I learned a lesson that day: you can’t always trust the critics. And while it is easy to point out the faulty critics in our lives, sometimes it’s much harder to admit when we have our own critical spirit. And, even harder to acknowledge when our criticism is false and hurtful.
Criticism is a problem in the lives of a lot people, but sadly, it is a struggle among many Christians, as well. Criticism is wrong because it carries with it a sense of pride and superiority. (Luke 18:14) It is also often a cover up for my own heart issues. (Jeremiah 17:9) The following are a few truths I’ve learned (and am doing my best to implement!), as I’ve studied the consequences and the cure for criticism in our lives:
1. Criticism hinders my relationship with others.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
2. Criticism hurts others.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
3. Criticism hurts me.
Proverbs 11: 2
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
4. Criticism hinders my relationship with God.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
5. Criticism stops God’s blessing in my life.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
Those consequences are eye opening! Criticism hurts every relationship in my life, including my relationship with God. So, how can I address it and change for God’s glory?
1. Search your heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
2. Confess your sin.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
3. Change your thinking.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
While food restaurant critics get a pass when they are wrong, we will give an account to God for our critical spirit. So, let’s admit when we’ve been wrong, ask God for forgiveness, and then determine to have the mind of Christ – a mind of humility and deference. May this spring be a time when you enjoy the blessings of a positive and joyful spirit in your life.