The world is full of ideas. We live with tiny computers in our pockets to call and text and email anyone in the world. There’s a new TED talk weekly on any topic you can imagine. Researchers create new medicines. Artists create new mediums. Companies create new and innovative products.
We all exist in this culture of ideas, and while ideas are beautiful things—one of my favorite things—they also cultivate opinions. We should do this, we should look like that, this thing is great, this thing is not great, this thing is ridiculous and should be banned for all human time.
Husbands also have to live in this culture of ideas. Whether our husbands are pastors, teachers, businessmen, engineers, landscapers, or anything out there in the world, people have ideas and opinions about what they should do, how it should be done, and how it is judged as successful. Many of these ideas and opinions are helpful and well-meaning. They help them get their jobs done and can offer clear expectations to make their jobs easier.
However, sometimes I’ve noticed these ideas and opinions morph into more than just expectations and suggestions. They could be translated over time as “You should do this differently. . . . You should act differently. . . . You should be different.” Over time, work and world criticism sinks into their hearts as “You aren’t enough. Your ideas aren’t enough. Who you are isn’t enough.”
You see, no one values your husband quite like you do. It’s one of the reasons you got married to begin with. This is marriage—one person on this planet finds another person he or she deems worthy of spending every single day of forever with. You didn’t get married to make him a different person; you got married to build up the person that he is.
So, how do we encourage our husbands? Let him be him.
Nowhere else in the world is he completely and utterly allowed to be himself, except in the one flesh relationship. Sure, there are expectations in marriage—ways we’d like things done, household and family living that is accomplished. But we can ask God to help us make our homes, our dining tables, and our marriage beds a safe place where our husbands can rest secure in the knowledge that they are valued regardless of expectation or “achievement.”
Philippians 1:3–6 tells us, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
These husbands . . . they’re not perfect, just as we are not perfect, but they are ours. And God is working a good thing in them, completing every day the good work He began in their Baptisms. We can recognize that God created them and all their oddities and praise Him for a job well done. I notice this is something we do so well for our children. We know that children are growing; forgiveness comes easier because we understand that they are on the learning curve we call childhood. But aren’t we all learning? Aren’t we all growing daily?
How can we offer this same safe place for our husbands to be themselves with all their warts and imperfections?
What did you love about your husband when you first met him? when you got engaged? Think about what your husband values and holds dear. When you feel the urge to criticize, ask yourself if this is about something central to these things, central to who he is. Am I criticizing him as a person?
“You always . . .”
“You never . . .”
“If you would just . . .”
Or am I sharing a concern about something? opening a conversation?
“How can we make the chores run smoother?”
“I’m concerned about one of the children’s behavior.”
“What should we do about . . .”
Let him be him. God made him. God is working in him. God is completing him for the day of His triumphant return. This partnership we call marriage is like no other. May it be safe, may it be sweet, and may it be filled with freedom to be ourselves, as loved and highly valued children of the Most High God.