The following is an excerpt from our book True Intimacy.
For the next month we will be posting a chapter a day for your reading (and marital) pleasure. However, if you would like to purchase an electronic or printed copy for yourself or someone else we would greatly appreciate your support! To go to the web page for more information click here.
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
To translate this passage into modern lingo, Jesus was basically saying “it’s like the pot calling the kettle black”. I believe that it is simply human nature to be able to see the flaws in other people before we see the flaws in ourselves, especially if it’s the exact same flaw. It’s so much easier to see the speck in someone else’s eye isn’t it? But for shame if they point out the log in ours! In marriage we have to be especially careful of this, I mean you are living with the person after all. You get to see ALL their flaws that way! In his letter to the Philippians, Paul says to Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have the attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:3-5 In this verse Paul is telling us we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition and to put the interests of others before our own. It’s too easy to get so focused on what we’re doing that we forget all about our husband’s needs and interests. And that is what was happening in my marriage. I was so focused on me and how mad I was at Christian that it was all I could see. I was so focused on the speck in his eye and trying to “help” him take it out that I never noticed the log in my own eye! Then one night God held up a mirror for me to see myself. “Hey look! There’s a log in my eye! When did that get there?”
I have an activity that I’d like for you to do. This was a complete turning point for me and I’m praying that it will do the same thing for you as well. You’ll need a couple of pieces of lined paper and a pen.
Dream husband (from Dannah Gresh’s book And the Bride Wore White: 7 Secrets to Sexual Purity): Now, this one is really fun. Make a list of everything your dream husband would be. What would he look like? How would he dress? What personality traits would he have? Is he funny? Is he witty? What would his goals be? Does he want to run a marathon? Or maybe write a book? Be detailed in your descriptions. Don’t just say, he’s funny, say why he’s funny.
Now look at your list, how many of those qualities does your husband already possess? If you’re like me, he has the majority of them. By the time I got down to the end of my list I realized I already HAD my perfect husband. No he wasn’t actively doing all the things on my list but he had, at least in the past, done all of them! And, no, he wasn’t perfect, but he was the perfect husband for me, and I found that I still loved him. And after this activity, I decided to start liking him again too.
That’s also when I realized that it’s not my job to change my husband. That’s a job only God can do. However, God could (and did) use me to change my husband. He used me, by changing me. In Luke 6:27-31 it says:
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”
You see, it’s in those moments when we’re being un-loveable, that we need our husband’s love the most. Don’t return harsh words with harsh words, return them with love. No, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it because when you act out in love instead of anger, or hurt, the negative cycle is broken and a new cycle of love is started.
God loved US first. God’s love is perfect, never-ending, never goes away and never dies. If we don’t know that kind of love how can we give that kind of love to our husbands? When we mess us, and I mean really mess up big, God never, not for a second, stops loving us. Never. So when our husbands mess up, we can’t stop loving them, not for a second.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
To love your husband means you are patient when he is late. You are kind when all you want to do is be mean (which, for me at least, is extremely hard to do). You don’t envy or boast. Don’t be conceited or act rudely. Don’t be a selfish pig (another of my faults), life is not all about you. Don’t be provoked into a fight, don’t keep a record (written or in your head) of all the things he’s done wrong. To love your husband means to take no joy in ungodly things, but rejoice in the truth! If your husband has done something against you (adultery for instance, as in my case) and he tells you about it, REJOICE IN THE TRUTH! Bear all things, he’s human, not God, bear with him. Believe in your husband, hope in him, endure him, but most of all NEVER GIVE UP ON HIM.
No matter how you’re feeling about your husband right now, deep down you still love him don’t you. In fact, usually, if you’re mad at him it’s because you still love him. If you didn’t have love for him anymore you wouldn’t care anymore and would have no reason to be mad. One night we had a fire in the backyard with the kids. When it was time for us to go inside for the night there were no flames left in the fire, only a few embers. We wanted to make sure that it was completely out before we went in, so I got a gallon and a half of water and poured it on the embers. While the flames were long gone from the fire, there was still enough heat in those few little embers that it boiled the water, created steam and a lot of cool popping noises. Plus, it took the whole gallon and a half to put them out! Don’t give up, while there may not be any flames right now, there are most likely at least a few embers and so, there’s still hope!
You see change has got to start somewhere; the cycle’s got to break. If you want your marriage and sex life to change, then YOU’VE got to be the one to change, not him. You’ll be amazed at the difference a little attitude adjustment will do for your sex life! One last Proverb and then I’ll go for the day. “The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him.” (27:21) The true test of how good of a wife we are comes from the praise we receive from our husbands. Is your husband praising you? I know mine wasn’t praising me, because I wasn’t earning it.
OK, husbands, I want you to stand up. Go ahead. Now, clear your throat and say “I am a selfish pig”. Did you do it? I just did. OK, go ahead and sit down before people start to stare at you.
I believe it is human nature to put ourselves first. The reason I was coming home late wasn’t (entirely) because I didn’t want to be around my wife, I was out late doing what I wanted to do. After I realized what I was doing and how it was affecting my marriage, I changed. I try to put my wife first (especially in the bedroom, if you know what I mean). If you start putting her first, she will start putting you first and your marriage (and sex) will be amazing!
In Tamar’s second to last paragraph above, she stated that change needed to start with the wives. This isn’t just up to them, though, guys. YOU have to be willing to change too. YOU can be the one to start the change. You can’t expect your marriage to get better if you keep doing the same stupid things after your wife has changed.
I’d like to put a little twist on Tamar’s activity: the shopping list. I would like you to make a shopping list for your perfect wife. I’m not going to suggest any questions, but I would like you to come up with at least five, but no more than ten. Go ahead and take a minute right now to make your list.
Done? Good. This may shock you, but I’m not interested in your answers. I’m interested in your questions. More precisely, what you were thinking about while you were writing them. I’m willing to bet, that when you were writing most, if not all, of your questions, you were thinking about your wife, i.e., if you asked about what color her hair would be, you thought about your wife’s hair. That’s what happened when I made my list. Interesting, isn’t it?