Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sacrificially Loving Your Spouse Part 2: Your Attitude

I was holding off on doing more posts on this topic until I did my second teaching on this lesson.  Yesterday, I finished teaching to a group of young moms at a group called Navigating Motherhood.  If you are a mom with young kids and are looking for a free group where you do crafts, fellowship, get free breakfasts, have free child care and get speakers coming once a week to your meetings, check out this particular group.  It meets in Aliso Viejo and is amazing!

So, a couple of posts back, I laid the foundation for sacrificially loving your spouse.  If you haven't read that post yet, read it first.

Now let's role up our sleeves and get practical.  A big area of conviction for most of us is how we are loving (or rather disrespecting) our spouse in our attitude.  A great template for us to study in the Bible is the woman in Proverbs 31, the excellent wife.  Proverbs 31 tells us that she has willing hands, not obligated or resentful hands, and acts for the good of her spouse.  In addition, it says she labors with this loving attitude ALL the days of her life--her attitude of selflessness does not ebb and flow with her circumstances or her changing emotions.

This is a very hard and high calling, but the key to her success is in Proverbs 31:30.  It tells us that she fears God.  She understands God's place--high and holy, her sovereign Creator.  As a result, she obeys with joy, contentment and a proper fear of God--properly considering her spouse with a loving attitude. 

How is your attitude toward your spouse?  You might be externally preferring him, but you harbor some control and resentment in your heart.  This is sin before God.  If you act obedient JUST in appearances, you are seeking people's approval, not God's.  He knows your heart, which will expose your attitude.

One way we can check our attitudes is by considering the thoughts we think about our spouse.  Do we look forward to seeing him walk in the door from work because we love him and he is our best friend, or do we have thoughts that gripe and complain about where our husband fell short or what mistakes he made that day/week/or year.

We fall so easily into that second example.  We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and then immediately assume the worst in our husband.  We even get annoyed and resentful at circumstances that are out of his control--traffic that makes him get home late; a crabby, sick kid who you had to watch while your husband "escaped" to work; or the fact he can eat that dessert with no ill effects while you diet for weeks to lose 5 pounds. 

Instead of hashing out the things we can hold against our spouse, we should purposefully dwell on things our husbands do right, what they do well, and what they are doing to sacrifice for our families.

In our house, we keep a "thanks list" at the top of our stairs on the linen closet counter.  Throughout the week, we jot down specific things for which we give thanks, including things our spouse has done well.  Then, one night each week, we come together and read through the thanks list together.  We are able to pray thanks to God and voice appreciation to one another as well. 

Well, how about when your husband leaves your home in the morning? Are you frazzled and grumpy in the morning or do you smile and encourage your spouse before he goes to face his stressful day? If he asks you to do something that day at home or while running errands, smile with a happy heart and say SURE, thankful for the opportunity to serve. We ask our kids to obey us with happy hearts, but so often we struggle to comply with joyfully helping our husbands when they ask us to do a favor.
How about when your husband walks in the door AFTER work? You have dinner going, little kids are underfoot and older kids are doing homework. The stress of the day has peaked and you are fatigued. Instead of unloading your day on your spouse when he first gets home, wait to talk about stresses with him. He has been at a demanding job all day, has been driving home in traffic and has been looking forward to the retreat and sanctuary that home and family bring him. Have an attitude that reflects this support and rest for him when he is weary instead of heaping more trouble and stress onto his lap. Try smiling, making sure you look nice and keeping home clean and relaxing for when he walks in that door. Such actions sure would reflect a loving and thoughtful attitude.

How about this one? What is your attitude when your husband initiates intimacy with you? You are tired, the kids have been pulling at you all day, but your husband has been bombarded with sexy, physical messages and images all day. He wants and needs physical time with his wife. Are you going to respond with a thankful attitude that he is choosing faithfulness and desiring you, or are you going to give him the cold shoulder and get frustrated that he is even attempting sex this evening? How about honoring him and initiating sex with him even when you are tired? That is a selfless attitude where you are considering HIS interests first and more important than your own feelings!

Recently, I noticed a friend on Facebook was at home with her newborn eating a Trader Joe’s microwave dinner while her husband worked late. The focus of her post was asking prayer for her husband who was working late and sacrificing for his family. She didn’t even tiptoe into a pity party or grumbling session. Her focus was off herself. If you make an effort to practice activities such as these, liking your spouse best will be simple and straightforward.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you in this area of sanctification.  Pray that sin is exposed and repent.  Post verses around the house that will help you respond with joy and selflessness.  Have accountability and check in regularly.

We realize our attitudes are important--they expose the spiritual health of our hearts.  God sees them clearly and is not fooled by our hypocritical actions.  The key to improving our attitude toward our husbands is to properly fear God and understand our place before Him, to have our thoughts dwell on what our husbands are doing well and to take our eyes off of our own selfish needs and feelings.  Rely on God for strength and guidance as you pursue holiness in your attitude toward your spouse.

The next post in this series will focus on loving your spouse with your TIME.

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