I love the sound of Joshua 24:15, “. . . as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord,” but I also find that my heart argues with the idea. Despite my best intentions, I tend to think I am right and my ways are best. Interestingly, I married someone who believes she is right and her ways are brilliant.
Fortunately, we have help. “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) If we are willing, we can ask the Holy Spirit to teach us how to love.
Asking For The Holy Spirit’s Help
Ephesians 5 makes it clear that men and women approach love and life differently. “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies . . . After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body.” (v. 28-29) In other words, the key to living with my wife, Pam, is to love her as much as I love my body. The instructions are clear but they don’t resonate with any of my instincts. The thought of “feeding and caring for” Pam doesn’t seem all that manly, especially when these words call to mind a picture of a mother bird taking care of her chicks.
The Holy Spirit, thankfully, is an expert on how to communicate love to Pam. When I realized I wasn’t going to figure this out by instinct, I started praying, “God will you give me ideas for expressing love to Pam that will make her feel cared for?”
New Approaches To love
The results of my prayers have been a little surprising. For instance, Pam once came walking in the door from errands and announced, “It’s just me.”
Immediately, a thought crossed my mind, almost as if it had been whispered into my ear: “Say back to her, ‘No, it’s especially you!’” My first thought was, “My friends would never stop making fun of me if they found out I said that.” My second thought was, “That must have been the Holy Spirit because it is brilliant.”
I shouted it out to make sure Pam heard; it was a bullseye. The smile on her face made it obvious that she felt loved and cared for at that moment.
A Wife’s Request
“The wife must respect her husband.” (v. 33) Just as Pam seeks to be loved, I seek to be respected. In practical terms, I long to know I can succeed with Pam in my life. I want to know that conversations are going to work, romantic gestures are going to be enthusiastically welcomed and mutual decisions are going to be carried out and not just talked about.
I have noticed this doesn’t readily connect with Pam’s instincts any better than my challenge to “feed and care” for her, especially when you add in the idea of submission. She knows the challenge to “submit to one another” (v. 21) refers to military officers who rank themselves under one another to accomplish a mission, but that information doesn’t make the principle any easier. As a result, she has also resorted to asking the Holy Spirit, “Please show me what to say and what to do to respect Bill.
Just recently, Pam greeted me as I came in from doing strenuous yard work. She actually said out loud, “You look kind of sexy with messed up hair and dirt under your fingernails!” I felt remarkably appreciated but I knew she certainly did not come up with that on her own!
Inspiration for loving our partners doesn’t have to come from steamy romance novels or goofy romantic comedies. Instead, it can come from a higher power, which makes it so much more meaningful. Submit your prayers to get the Holy Spirit’s guidance for loving your spouse the way they truly want to be loved.