By Rachel Olsen
Rejection, pain and anger… it's a cycle all too easy to fall into once the honeymoon is over. Allow me to illustrate: wife gets angry about the way husband handled (or didn't handle) something and criticizes him, her harsh judgment embarrasses and hurts so he withdraws into longer hours at work, she feels rejected and lashes out in protective anger, he begins believing he will never meet her expectations and avoids her, sex tapers off or even stops, she nags him about ignoring her and the kids, he never feels truly welcome in his own home, she wonders if he is interested in another woman, he blows off her fearful accusations, and so on the vicious cycle goes. In this month's issue of the Proverbs 31 Woman, author Jill Wagner attests to the power that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 had in helping her break this cycle.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)
How do we love our husbands with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love? Here are five tips to keep in mind.
1. Be thankful for the husband you have. Spend some time focusing on his good qualities. Make a list of them. Think about what attracted you to him in the first place. Do not look at other men and assume they make for better husbands - simply don't go there!
2. Do not drag up old "crimes" in the heat of a disagreement. Not keeping an account of wrongs, means not using his past mistakes as present ammunition against him. In our US court system it is illegal to try someone for the same crime twice. Once God forgives us, our sin is as far removed from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). So it should be in our marriage.
3. Do not allow long periods of fiery anger, or smoldering silence. Ephesians 4:26 warns us not to let the sun go down while we are still angry. In other words, we are to make sure we reconnect relationally after an argument before the day is through. It's not that we shouldn't ever be angry at each other, frustrations and disagreements are a normal part life. However, God holds us accountable for being quick to forgive and eager to work things out.
4. Do not withhold sex, for manipulation or punishment. Paul says in Ephesians 7:3, "The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband" (NIV). The Bible also advises us not to take revenge on each other, but to leave that up to the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35). God designed sex to be the ultimate expression of love and unity between husband and wife. Do not treat it as anything less.
5. Pray for and with your husband regularly. It is hard to remain apathetic towards someone you pray for daily. Pray for your husband's safety and health. Pray for him to have wisdom and integrity. Pray for his success on the job. Pray for his friendships. Pray for his ability to lead his family well. I believe you'll find you also benefit when these prayers on his behalf are uttered and answered. Another sure-fire way to increase marital strength is to regularly pray aloud together - trust me and try it tonight.
The bottom line of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is that we should continually strive to build our husbands up, not tear them down. Adopting a servant's heart towards your spouse, and keeping mindful of these five tips will ensure that your love for one another remains strong.