Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sacrificially Loving Your Spouse: Part 4--Actions

We have been reading about how to practically be godly wives in our post series:  Sacrificially Loving Your Spouse.  We started with a lesson on the biblical foundations, and then we have looked at practically serving our spouse through our attitude and our time.  Today, we are going to look at loving our spouse in our actions.

Proverbs 31 is full of wise and loving actions on the part of the excellent wife. She is purposeful in deciding what needs to be done and acting upon it. Verse 16 finds her considering a purchase of a field, verse 13 finds her seeking the materials she needs for clothes, verse 14 tells us she brings food from afar to feed her family. We already pointed out that she is working hard—there is no idleness in her. She is active for her spouse, her kids, the poor, her servants and her maidens. In fact, the whole section on the excellent wife ends with the words, “Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” She actively works for the good of her spouse, so her dutiful actions bring her reward and good in her life and family.

There are so many creative ways to act preferentially to your spouse. I recently posted this question on Facebook: How do you give preference to your spouse?  As we already discussed under attitude, many women mentioned initiating and responding well to intimacy.  We know and realize intimacy is exceptionally important to our husbands.

There were other examples, though.  Someone wrote sweet notes on her husband's lunch napkin, one heated his towel in the dryer while he was showering, another clipped coupons for bagels at his favorite shop, others bought his favorite foods every week at the store, one simply served him his dinner plate BEFORE she served her children theirs, and one lady gave her husband a backrub or footrub and did not expect one in return. Try making your husband’s favorite dinner and light candles—even when the kids are there. Fold his shirts the way he likes them folded. It sounds silly, but Ryan has a specific way he likes me to fold his T-shirts. I have never been good at folding clothes, but I do it. I fold them the way he likes, though it takes extra time and thoughtfulness, because I love him and he asked me to fold them this way. It is important to him.  Clean the area of the house he likes to see spotless.  Our husbands each have that area they like to see dust and clutter free.  It might be their desk, nightstand or the couch, but having that area clean gives them a place of sanctuary and order.

Instead of dressing in the newest trends to compete with the girls, dress the way he likes to see you dressed, and do your hair the way he likes your hair.  We are married and need to make sure we care about our husband's preferences more than we care about making sure we look as hip and trendy as our girlfriends.

You can prefer your spouse with your specific gifts and talents too. Those of you who cook well, make your husband’s favorite meals and foods. If he likes to eat food you hate to cook, make it anyway. If you are a talented writer, write down cards, notes of encouragement and praise for your husband. If you are a Creative Memory gal, make a special book highlighting your marriage and blessed times with your spouse. Perhaps you are great at organizing.  With his permission, organize your spouse’s closet, car, office or junk drawer. If you are an encourager, have your husband be the first person you look to encourage each day. If you are a teacher or leader at church, ask your husband for insight and help into the lessons you are giving. Include him in your ministry and still seek his leadership, even if you are leading a ministry solely for women. Think about how you can creatively use your resources and gifts for the purpose of blessing your husband and giving him preference in your marriage and home.

Do all of this without expecting thanks or anything in return. You see, if we do all these things and expect something in return, we aren’t preferring anyone but ourselves.

There is a cute little story about a little boy and his mom. One day the mom saw a little slip of paper on her nightstand. It was a little bill from her young son that said: Being good—50 cents. Doing chores—10 cents. The mom smiled at his childishness and the next day slipped him 60 cents and a slip of paper back. It said: Nursing you through colic--nothing. Hugging you when you are hurt—nothing. Making your breakfasts, lunches and dinners—nothing. Taking you to and from school every day—nothing. Serving you and loving you sacrificially—nothing. You see this mom was illustrating to her son the idea of sacrificial love and honor. We can be like that son—not handing our spouse a tangible bill for our services, but holding expectations and demands in our heart and mind. This should not be. Love and Prefer your spouse sacrificially like Christ loved, not expectantly.

We have only one area left to discuss in our next post in this series:  our words.  I'm praying for my readers as you and I work through these areas of godliness.

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