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Today we celebrated our 11th anniversary. Believe me, we've had frugal anniversaries before, but this year. . . well, let's just say we had to get REEAAALL creative. We talked about what we could do, and decided to write each other a love letter. In my letter to Ivan, I told him my top 11 favorite things about him, then wrote out 11 things that I will work on for him, and for our relationship in general. Then I cracked open The Book and got busy.
Now I don't know about you, but for me, when I read some of the verses in the Bible, I think about other people and other relationships, not my marriage. What a difference it makes to shift my thinking just a little bit, and try to apply them to us. Here's what I told Ivan I will be working on:
1. Philippians 2:3-4
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others".
I hope I'm not alone struggling with this! My biggest downfall is in thinking about my "needs". I selfishly think, "He should be trying to meet my needs. . . I'm trying to meet his!" How loving is that? I'm sure he'd rather me not try to meet his needs at all if that's my motivation. This is definitely a biggie for me.
2. Philippians 4:6
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God".
My husband has enough weight on his shoulders without me worrying about everything and him having to deal with my anxiety. I'm going to try to hand those worries to the Lord before I dump them on my husband.
3. Ephesians 5:22
"Wives, be subject to your own husband, as to the Lord".
You didn't think you'd get through this without this one, did you? When there is a big decision to be made, I'm going to tell Ivan my opinion, then try to let him make his decision on his own. When I'm trying to force my viewpoint, and convince him to do things how I think they should be done, I'm not letting him be the spiritual leader the Lord has commanded him to be. I always wanted to marry someone who would try to lead our family spiritually - yet I find myself not letting him many times. Definitely something I'm working on.
4. 1 Peter 3:8-9a
"To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead;"
I so want Ivan to think of me as a blessing. I'm sure this is pretty morbid, but if I end up dying before he does, how will he remember me? Our time here together is so limited, when you think in terms of eternity. It seems like a pretty big waste of time to be insulting each other and egging on discord when the Lord can lead us in being harmonious.
5. Ephesians 5:33b
"And let the wife see to it that she respect her husband".
Here's another one that's not always easy to hear. However, I'm beginning to see how simple it really is. Ladies, I believe that men THRIVE under the respect they receive. We thrive in being cherished, they thrive in being respected. Although I'm obviously not a man, I think men feel disrespected through our words AND our body language. A rolling of the eyes, a sigh of frustration . . . we can tear them down so easily with this - and turn them away from us. I want Ivan to know, without me saying it, that I respect him. Period.
6. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion".
First, am I a companion to Ivan? Do I regularly watch out for his needs and try to take care of them? Can he confide in me, and trust that his secrets are safe? Secondly, am I taking care enough of myself so that when he should fall, I have the mental capacities to lift him up again? Am a being a "team player" in this marriage, so we have a good return for our labor?
7. Proverbs 3:11-12
"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life".
Read that again. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. I TRY to do good for Ivan, but my selfishness gets in the way ALL THE TIME. So although I may not be intentionally being evil, there are plenty of times that I'm not doing him good.
8. James 1:2-4
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing".
This is not the first thing that comes to my mind when we're having a disagreement. In fact, it NEVER comes into my mind at that time! I'm beginning to believe that if I think of our disagreements as God trying to grow me, I will behave differently in the midst of them.
9. Philippians 3:13
"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. . . "
I know that this verse is not specifically talking about the marriage relationship - but it could change your relationship with your husband if you let it! We've heard it all our lives "Don't bring up past offenses". That's hard to do, especially if your spouse brings up all that you've done wrong in the past. Whether it's a little spat, or a major offense that needs forgiveness, at the point that you forgive them it shouldn't be spoken of again.
10. Proverbs 31:26
"She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue".
Okay. . . this one is difficult. We women have lots of things coming off our tongues, as evidenced in this post! :) Is kindness what Ivan thinks of when he thinks of my words? What about wisdom? Does he think I talk to much, that I'm a busybody? If so, then I doubt he puts "Margie" and "wisdom" together.
11. Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things".
This baby covers a multitude of things! What I think of most is - are the majority of my thoughts about Ivan pure, lovely, excellent, honorable, etc etc etc? Or do I think on what he's done wrong, or what he's not doing for me, or the dishwasher he didn't load how I do? Love. believes. the. best. More than that, I think love should DWELL on the best. Do you look for the good things your husband does, or says? Do you kick out those negative thoughts as soon as they enter your mind? It's much simpler than you might imagine. I just had to decide to do it, and I feel the Lord has blessed that attitude. However, I certainly don't have it licked, so I'm committing to work on it more.
I know that these 11 scriptures don't even begin to touch how many we could find that would help us to be better wives. What about you? Do you have a specific verse that has helped you in some way in growing with your spouse? Please share - I need all the help I can get!!!! :)