It used to bother me. In fact, I probably held a bit of a grudge. When other women would share their proposal story there was romance, excitement, and elaborate details involved. For me, it was better to just gloss over the topic. “He said, ‘Will you marry me?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’” Simple. Straightforward. But it annoyed me for years. Comparison was the real problem, but I took it out on him.
I wanted to have a proposal story with lots of details, because that would prove my husband loved me. It wasn’t that I actually doubted my husband loved me. I wondered if he could love me the way that I wanted. Was he going to show grand gestures and create movie-like scenes?
It has taken me over 10 years to realize that I have been holding my husband hostage to a reality that doesn’t exist. My demands have been, “One day, I want a real proposal. You have to think it out and plan ahead.”
The reality was, my husband chose me. He proposed to me.
Here I have been telling him that wasn’t up to snuff.
I can choose to live a life longing for what never happened, or I can embrace the love that God determined I need. It is mine. I can take care of it, nurture it and help it grow, or I can stomp on it, and prevent it from ever hoping to flourish.
I would rather have love than have nothing at all. My husband was sent to me…for a reason.
Finally it dawned on me that maybe I get simple and understated gestures because that is what I need. Goodness knows a dose of humility does me good-very good. What if I was given a large, flamboyant and detailed proposal? What if that became what my marriage was about-flamboyant and detailed, busy and large, material and expensive?
It’s easy to see the light when he is away. When my husband is deployed, it is so easy to see that it is him that I love and not grand gestures or fancy details. The person who is the embodiment of love in my life. My husband loves me because I choose to love him. I often leave him for last after the kids have taken up all my energy. I often take it out on him-when I have no energy left. Yet he still chooses to love me.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31
Encouraging My Husband
The day after Valentine’s Day happens to be the anniversary of our engagement. The day he sort of asked me to be his wife. I said yes and now we work on forever. It was our love that was planted on that day. Unique to us-for no one else. We celebrate this anniversary of our engagement apart, but I feel closer in love because I know that it is not the size of a ring that keeps a marriage strong. It is not the details of a proposal that keep a marriage strong. It is not the length of time spent planning date nights or trips away together that keep a marriage strong. It is God. A focus on God keeps a marriage strong.
The motivation to love is better than any fancy proposal out there.
When he is deployed or traveling for work, my husband and I always seem to be more understanding of each other’s’ challenges. Distance does make the heart grow fonder. It’s not that we aren’t communicating when he is home, but it might be the one-on-one time: When my husband is home, and we are deep into the hustle of our days, we are managing life, not really discussing it. When we are apart, there is more sharing and discussion.
Recently, I learned about a marriage devotional that was based on questions men ask about marriage. I don’t know about you, but I think at times my husband wishes he had a marriage manual! He would probably like to turn to the page that describes what to say to your wife when she is giving you “the look,” or the advice on what to say if your wife asks if a certain outfit looks ok on her. I am sure my husband would appreciate a manual like that.
All kidding aside, if I want my marriage to grow stronger, I have to find ways of encouraging my husband to understand and appreciate me as his wife. I have to encourage him to lead our marriage.
“There is hope for your marriage no matter how bad, strained, or in need of repair it may be” One-on-One for Husbands, p.13.
If you are seeking a way to encourage your husband to appreciate you more, to view you as his help-meet, and count you as his personal blessing, One-on-One for Husbands is a great help. It is a 90-day challenge written as a devotional. I knew it was going to be a great tool for encouraging my husband.
I asked my husband to look through it and gathered his thoughts about it so you would have a husband’s point of view. As a wife, I think this would be a great devotional to work through together, but it is written specifically for husbands. It is one way I am trying to be focused on encouraging my husband.
This devotional does not paint you as the bad guy. This is not a women are perfect and men are stupid book. On the contrary, this is a book that is meant to encourage husbands to lead their families by learning more about their role in marriage-ultimately creating a partnership with their wife. God created man and woman to be different and to come together in marriage to complete each other. (Cue Jerry Maguire!)
One-on-One for Husbands does try to help husbands understand their wives. With daily study topics that relate to questions such as:
How important is it for husbands to listen to their wives?
How do I deal with my wife when she seems too unreasonable?
Can we really understand our wives?
What is the greatest way I can honor my wife?
There is only one page of reading per day, with Bible verses included in addition. Each day of study is quick. My husband agreed that, “A page a day is do-able.”
He said, “I did not think it seemed to make husbands bad guys. Perhaps helping them become less aloof when it comes to the mind of a woman”
What if your husband is unwilling to work through a devotional? I have some tips!
- Read it yourself. One page per day. Think about the topic for that day and bring it up at dinner or after the kids go to sleep. Engage your husband to hear his perspective. (We should be listening to them as much as we want them to listen to us!) When it comes to the action steps, re-word them to ask your husband if he can act in that way more regularly. Offer him your commitment to give him the same consideration.
- Send him a message. Take a picture of a page that you feel speaks directly to an issue in your marriage. Send it via text or email to your husband and ask him for his thoughts when he gets a minute. It is a quick way to engage him in a non-confrontational way.
- Build your husband up! No matter what, our marriage will benefit from the time we spend on it. Our mindset and actions directly affect our husbands and our children. You can control your actions and words when it comes to your husband. Build him up! Sometimes when we want to improve a situation it has to start with us. You lose nothing by trying to build up your husband. In my experience (and I have only been married for 12 years) whenever I have supported my husband with my words and actions, his actions and words are more positive towards me too.
How do you encourage your husband?
Disclosure: My dad volunteers on the board of One-on-One Ministries started by Lee Moseley, the author of One-on-One for Husbands. I was not compensated for writing this post. One-on-One is a non-profit organization with a mission to build one-on-one relationships by being the hands and feet of Jesus’ message.