Like many of you, my bride and I engage in pillow talk as we drift off to sleep. It typically covers a wide array of subjects. Never are the conversations very long since we’re both usually tired. On one particular night, though, my wife simply stated, “You really have been changing.” I was totally caught off guard.
So, of course, I asked, “Where do you see that happening?” Below is a summary of what she said. And while it is positive, it also reflects where I haven’t been at my best: 1) being more sensitive, 2) willing to help more, 3) putting her down less, 4) offering more words of endearment, 5) telling her she’s needed in my life, and 6) more willing to seek forgiveness.
That was the list volunteered by my wife. Your wife’s list might be very different from mine. But hopefully we’re all in the process of becoming more of who we ought to be as husbands and life partners. Men, this comes after 55 years of marriage. But our recent pillow talk was like “honey” to my soul. “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Prov. 16:24).
When someone close offers unsolicited feedback regarding positive relational change, it tastes like honey. Why? Because it was the Lord working in our lives, bringing the change, without our awareness that we’re really making progress. That, men, is real change.
On another note, here’s a short list of what I still need to continue working on with my bride: 1) justifying myself, 2) tending to blame, 3) ignoring her, 4) doing things out of my own strength, and 5) being insensitive to her emotional needs. What’s on your list?
Here are five challenges in my spiritual life that I now see are helping me become a better husband, even after all these years.
First, becoming more aware that Jesus is at the center of all my life, beyond all the clutter and distortion. Col. 3:3 tells us, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Thomas Keating observes, “Instead of going away, God simply moves downstairs, so to speak, and waits for us to come and join him.” I am often reluctant to go into the basement because of all my dirty linen.
Secondly, knowing more that I am accepted and loved even at my worst. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love (I John 4:18 NLT). Because I am loved, I can come out of hiding and lovingly engage with my wife.
Thirdly, allowing my diseased attitudes and distorted images to be brought into the light. I need to see them for what they are and how they affect my relationship with my wife.
Fourthly, learning to share what comes into awareness without having to dig up the past, but rather acknowledging what is right before me. It may not make sense to my male understanding, but I need to say what I am experiencing here and now. My wife needs to hear it, because she has felt the effects in our relationship.
Fifthly, and most importantly, confessing my sins to Judy and seeking her forgiveness. I do this by praying with her, so she can forgive me and I can hear her declare that I am forgiven. Men, we are not very good at forgiving ourselves. It is a real release to hear it from your wife.