As I sit here contemplating what it looks like to “love your husband” all I can really think about are all the times and ways I have not shown mine the kind of love the Word of God encourages a wife to give her husband. So, yeah…there’s that.
Like the times he walks in the door and I’m busy with the kids or with something around the house and he gets a quick, “Oh, hey…glad your home…can you take the trash out?”
Or the times he’s gone out of his way to bless and serve me in some way and it barely gets even a nod of appreciation.
Or what about the days that are challenging for him, and he does something hard? There are days he could use a boost…a little encouragement to keep going…a little cheering on, but his cheerleader is nowhere to be found. I’m too busy, caught up in my own world, to meet him where he is.
So, what does a real, true, deep down, knock-him-off-his-feet kind of love look like, and what’s getting in the way of giving that?
How can we show our husbands the kind of love they were designed to need?
We often say, “All my needs are met in Christ, but my husband/wife could certainly help!” That’s part of the beauty in God’s design and purpose for marriage.
My husband…your husband…was designed, by God, to need a specific kind of love and you were put in his life to give it.
In Titus 2 it says, “then they can train the younger women to love their husbands…” This is a specific instruction to wives, and the word used here for “love” is philandros. Paul uses a word that comes from the root of “phileo” to describe the love of a wife to her husband.
Phileo love is a tender, affectionate, passionate kind of love. It emphasizes enjoyment and respect in the relationship. It literally means: “to approve of, to like, to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome, befriend, to show signs of love, to kiss.”
Phileo is not a dutiful love; it is to be characterized by joy and delight!
We all know the saying “Oh, I know my wife loves me, I just don’t think she likes me right now.” However, according to the definition of Phileo, these should be one in the same!
So, what keeps us from doing this? What stops us from giving our husbands this kind of love?
- We are exhausted and spread thin. We get busy and caught up with life, work, children, projects, etc…we are distracted and out of the habit. Everything but our husbands get the best of us. Anyone else, or is it just me?
- We decide it’s our job to “keep them humble.” We take it upon ourselves to keep them grounded. It’s hard to build someone up when you’re trying to make sure they don’t think too much of themselves.
- Sometimes we withhold this kind of love because we want to control and manipulate our husbands. “He’s not doing anything I want him to do – so why would I give him what he wants? If I do, what leverage/control do I have left?” We believe more in the power of behavior modification than the power of the Holy Spirit. “When he does something I want, then I will love him well.”
- Then there are times when how we love our husbands has more to do with our own identity and insecurity, and less to do with the man we married. If we don’t see our own worth and value it will make it harder to give worth and value to others.
- The journey we’ve walked can also make it hard to give this love freely. Hurts, wounds, and sin issues add up over time and cloud our ability to see clearly. So often, we become experts in each others’ weaknesses instead of experts in each others’ strengths. How quickly could we come up with a list of things that “annoy” us about our spouse vs. things we love and are thankful for?
- Human nature tells us that our needs are the real ones and our perspective is the right one. Sometimes we have a hard time recognizing a need that our spouse has, simply because we don’t share that same need.
These are just a few of the road blocks we might run into over time, but no road block is permanent.
Just start removing them.
If you’re busy, distracted, and caught up in life – slow down. When your husband walks in the door, greet him with some Phileo love! If you’ve made it your mission to keep his feet on the ground, turn it around…you be his biggest fan and support.If you find yourself only focusing on his areas of weakness…stop and change the focus of your thinking. Remind yourself of the good that is within him and dwell on that.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But, you don’t know my husband.”
Jesus, himself, is our example of phileo love. He was kind and welcoming; His nature and character never changed based on how people around him were acting.
Jesus never grew bitter or hard hearted. He didn’t shut down, or give a look that could kill, or get all sassy and naggy…He simply continued to love with a tender affection. He genuinely liked people and He loved with joy and delight.
His heart remained soft – even when undeservedly dying on cross.
Sure, it would be easier to give this kind of love if our husbands were the picture of perfection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. News flash – that is no ones reality! (It’s certainly not ours! Moss family motto – “not perfect but being perfected.”)
While we cannot control how our husbands are walking, we can control ourselves.
We are instructed to have this kind of love for our husbands – regardless of their actions or response.
It’s not always about liking what he does but liking who he is.
Love your husband well, friends. Love him with a love that lets him know he’s your hero and friend. Love him with a phileo love that lets him know you even like him…you like him a lot.
“I really love my new MacBook Pro! I literally don’t know what I would do without it!”
Seriously!?! Let’s go back and think through what you just said. And to be clear, adding the words “really” and “literally” do not convey a deeper sense of your fondness for your computer. Rather, it reveals the shallow and superficial nature of the world in which many of us live.
We live in a comparison culture that over values greatness…in every way. Nothing is ever good unless its better than something else. We have traded intrinsic worth for a competitive, comparative system where we must not only be better than but must also prove it. This has led to the misuse and devaluing of words to the point that many of them no longer have any significant meaning.
In my mind, one of the most important and often misused words in the English language is “love.” “I love my house.I love my car. I love my job. I love ice cream and popcorn.” If your like me, trying to fight for words to still have meaning, statements like those make you cringe.
This is the time of year when our culture tries to show us what love is and teach us how to express it to those we care most about. On some level, I can appreciate this emphasis. However, as the world tries to show us what love is, we begin to clearly see the lack of true understanding of love.
The month leading up to February fourteenth seems to have been turned into a national monument dedicated to the destruction of the true meaning of the word “love.” I am certain that Saint Valentine is literally turning over in his actual grave at this exact moment.
All it takes is a casual stroll through your local Walmart to see exactly what I am talking about. From the chick flicks playing in electronics to the three full aisles of candy, the lack of understanding of “love” could not be more apparent.
I suppose words such as “like, fondness, or attraction” do not express the depth of our feelings well enough. And words like “lust, selfish enabling, and mutual codependency,” though more accurate reflections of our true feelings, wouldn’t fit on those tiny heart shaped candies.
The good news for us husbands is that we have more than our culture to teach us what love is and how to walk in love towards our wives. There is a better way. There is more to love than our culture shows. Usually, we open a dictionary when we want to know what a word means. In this case, there’s a different book we need to open.
The Bible is not only the source of the true meaning of love, it is the source of true love itself.
Here we see it defined, explained and demonstrated. Here we are taught not only what love is but also how to find it and are given the power to walk in it.
-Love is about identity: 1 John 4:8 tells is that “God is love.” Love is not just something God does or has, God is love.
-Love is active: “For God so love the world that He gave…” John 3:16 teaches us that there was action motivated out of God’s love for us.
-Love is more than an emotion or passing feeling: 1 Corinthians 13 provides an eloquent and clear definition of love.
Husbands, I would especially encourage you during this season not to allow culture to define your love for your wife. Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
The Greek word translated ‘love’ in this verse is ‘agapao.’ This form of love is often referred to as unconditional love. Agapaō can be defined as a word that “expresses the ideal kind of love, that which is exercised by the will rather than emotion, not determined by the beauty or desirability of the object, but by the noble intention of the one who loves.”
The quality of love that husbands are directed to have towards their wives is not an emotion but is an action initiated by a voluntary choice. Unconditional love means fully aware of all the conditions, I make a choice to say that they do not matter relative to the value I place on the object of the love.
Husbands, we are directed to love our wives in this manner— all day, every day!
Obviously, men, we can not fully love our wives without first loving Jesus.
It is only in and through our relationship with Christ that we can learn what true love is and find the power to truly love.
On an unusually warm January day, the girls spent the afternoon playing in the backyard. They came running inside and called for me to come see a special cloud they had spied in the sky. This was, of course, not an ordinary cloud. This was a cloud that they were just sure had to be a portal to another world. (Yes, we have read all the Chronicles of Narnia books, and yes, the girls have active imaginations.) Ellie quickly says, “Mom, can you just pop us over to the other side of the fence so we can get closer?”
“No, baby, you can’t go in that field. It doesn’t belong to us.” This was, naturally, met with a wave of sad emotion, and through her sobs, “But if you don’t, we’re going to miss our chance to go through the portal!”
I, willing to help, gave a perfectly logical solution, “Baby, why don’t you go ahead and just pretend that you made it through the portal? You can pretend you are now on the other side and you can start exploring!” At this point, both daughters look up at me like I had just suggested they take a bath with their clothes on. With eyes rolling, “Mom, don’t be silly.”
Oh, I’m the silly one? You’re the ones who think if you cross this fence you will get close enough to the cloud to be able to get to another world by going through a portal in the sky?!
Then they asked, “Well, can we cross the fence and go play in the side field?” To which I replied, “Girls, why can’t you just play on the thirty acres that DO belong to us?”
Without missing a beat, Victoria responds, “You know, Mom…the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
Those two crazy girls could play absolutely anywhere on our farm. They have plenty of space to roam, but that afternoon all they wanted to do was cross the fence.
Ugh. Why is this so true?
Why do we stand right there in the middle of all that is ours, yet look longingly at the next field over?
Do you ever just need a do-over in life?
This last Christmas was a do-over for our family. Christmas of 2016 was to be our family’s first Christmas in our new home; however, my Dad was in the hospital fighting for his life, (another story for another day) and we spent two weeks at UT Medical Center. When Christmas 2017 rolled around, the girls kept referring to it as our “second first Christmas” in our new home. They called it our “Christmas redo,” and we went with it.
In fact, it was a redo in more ways than one. A couple of years ago, I got my husband, who deep down has farmer in his blood, an awesome Carhartt coat and work overalls. We had just bought our farm, and even though we weren’t living there yet, I knew he’d love it and start making use of it! Well, first let down…the work overalls didn’t fit, and then a few months later, in the craziness of moving, the coat went missing. Guess what Casey got for Christmas this year? Coat and work overalls (that fit this time)! A win for the redo year!
I was also the happy recipient of a redo gift. For my birthday last year, Casey and the girls got me one of those bath tub trays – holds a book, drink, candle, etc…. Sadly, it didn’t fit the tub and was promptly returned to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Christmas this year? New bath tray. Redo!
On December 27, 2017, Casey and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. It seems impossible that it has been fifteen years since we stood at my Grandparents church and said our forever ‘yes’ to each other. Fifteen years since the cold December day that I walked down the aisle…walked towards a much anticipated future with my
husband. Fifteen years since we stood together, surrounded by friends and family, worshipping and sharing communion for the first time as Husband and Wife. Fifteen years since that beautiful day.
How can I feel like that special day was just last week, but at the same time, feel like it was a lifetime ago?
How do fifteen years seem to pass so slowly? Yet, in the blink of an eye, here we are. Time is funny like that.
Time is full of seasons we think will take forever and seasons we wish would last a little longer. You know the seasons I’m talking about – college semesters that seem to drag on, nine long months of pregnancy, or potty training our children. We all, at some point or another, go through a time when we feel like we are moving through life at the pace of a snail in a Nascar race…wondering when, or if, we will ever see the finish line.
I felt like Casey was going to be in medical school f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Then somehow that long awaited day came, and I watched as he walked across the stage, finally becoming Dr. Moss. We were quickly greeted with another season that I knew would never end — pediatric residency. Yet, here we are. It’s been almost eleven years since he finished his residency program. The snail made it.