2014 at 10:05 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
“We [should not] make the mistake of thinking that marriage will provide the ultimate satisfaction for which we all hunger. To assume so would be to be guilty of blasphemy. Only God satisfies the hungry heart. Marriage is but one of the channels He uses to enable us to taste how deeply satisfying His thirst-quenching grace can be.” ~Sinclair B. Ferguson
My husband, Mike, is a gift that I don’t deserve. My kids have yet to fully grasp what an incredible dad they’ve been given. For one, they would never be clean if it wasn’t for him. True confessions: I really hate giving my kids baths. There, I said it. For some strange reason I prefer a clean bathroom and dirty children. But thankfully, the kids have Mike and whenever Dad is on duty, the kids get clean. This is one of many ways that Mike and I are different. And when it comes to clean children, I appreciate those differences. Other times, not so much: particularly when those differences mean that Mike doesn’t help out in the way that I want him to with the kids. For example, if Mike doesn’t seem to notice that I need help with the kids, or doesn’t help in the way I think he should, I can be tempted to judge his motives and assume he doesn’t care. I expect him to observe and understand the need that I have without my asking for help. But Mike doesn’t always realize that I need his help, or know what kind of help I’m expecting. This is not because he doesn’t want to be helpful, but because we are different. Elisabeth Elliot diagnoses my problem:
“Strange how easy it seems to be for some women to expect their husbands to be women, to act like women, to do what is expected of women. Instead of that they are men, they act like men, they do what is expected of men and thus they do the unexpected….It’s another of those simple facts which are not always so simple to remember.”
When I remember this simple fact, I can resist the temptation to judge Mike, and graciously ask for his help instead. And you know what? Whenever I ask Mike for help, he says “yes!” He actually does care. A lot. He is always so eager to jump in and do whatever I need.
So, instead of expecting Mike to be like me, I can choose to appreciate the fact that he’s not like me (and that our children get regularly bathed!). And the next time he doesn’t help the way I think he should help, I can stop and thank the Lord that he’s different from me. Then I can open my mouth, ask for help, and be grateful for a husband who so willingly says “yes!”
2014 at 2:06 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Recently I was watching a cooking show where the celebrity chef and her husband were celebrating a milestone anniversary. The cook shared her “recipe” (ha!) for a long-lasting, happy marriage: “I try to make him happy and he tries to make me happy and it works!”
As far as I know, this woman is not a Christian, but her advice reflects a biblical principle for marriage: husbands and wives are to love one another. They are to put each other’s interests above their own (Phil. 2:4). A husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). A wife is to love her husband with a tender, affectionate love (Titus 2:4).
In the chef’s words, I am to try to make him happy.
So often, in marriage, we get it the wrong way around, don’t we? We think more about all the ways our husbands can make us happy, or we dwell on how unhappy we are with our husbands.
“If only he would be more like ______________ I would be happy.”
“If only he would stop doing ______________I would be happy”
“If only he would notice ______________I would be happy”
“If only he would ask ______________ I would be happy”
“If only he would do ______________ I would be happy”
Our egalitarian culture gives us a sympathetic pat on the back. After all, the modern recipe for a happy marriage calls for self-interest as a main ingredient. But this is not the biblical way. Nor does it turn out very well. The more we try to put our own happiness first in our marriages, the more unhappy we become.
Or, to put it another way: If we really want our own happiness, and if we really want a happy marriage, we will put our husbands’ happiness first. John Piper:
“Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church.”
My husband is a wonderful example of putting my happiness first. He calls it “studying his wife” and he has spent our entire marriage seeking to discover what makes me happy. He often encourages husbands not to assume that their wives will like what every other wife likes, but to study their own wives and learn what makes them happy.
I don’t have to think back far for an example of my husband trying to make me happy. While we were on a getaway two weekends ago, my husband noticed a sign for an afternoon tea. Now, I’m not even sure CJ has ever had a cup of tea in his life, much less attended an afternoon tea. But he knows afternoon tea is a favorite of mine, a long-standing tradition with my daughters, and now my granddaughters.
And so, because he wants to make me happy, he made a reservation. I wish you could have seen my husband, in a room of mostly women, trying to make a tea selection and handle a teacup. We ended up laughing our way through the afternoon. But he was happy because I was happy.
Are you unhappy in your marriage? Are you dissatisfied or disappointed with your husband? Instead of focusing on your unhappiness, or trying to make yourself happy first, try to make your husband happy. A happy husband makes for a happy wife, and a happy marriage brings glory to God. The chef, and more importantly, God’s Word is right: this recipe for a happy marriage works.
Q: I’d love to hear how your parents counseled you all about engagement and marriage. What did they tell you to look for in a husband?
A: There is so much to say on this topic, but here are a few “starter” questions Dad and Mom gave us when we were considering marriage, These are taken from our book, Girl Talk, in a chapter written by Mom:
C.J. and I sought to provide our daughters with a “list” from Scripture of essential qualities that should characterize any man desirous of pursuing them. These qualities included: 1. Genuine passion for God. The greatest commandment is to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matt. 22:37). A mere profession of faith is insufficient. A godly man will consistently display love, obedience, and increasing passion for the Savior. 2. Humility. ‘This is the one to whom I will look,’ says the Lord, ‘he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word’ (Isa. 66:2). Your daughter will marry a sinner—that is certain. But if he is a humble and teachable sinner who is quick to repent, then he will be sure to grow in godliness. This humility will also be evident in his love for and submission to God’s Word. 3. Love for the local church. At the center of God’s plan on earth is His church. A young man must be pursuing fellowship and serving faithfully in a local church if he is to make a good candidate for a husband. 4. Biblical convictions about manhood and womanhood. A successful marriage is due in large part to a couple’s grasp of their respective roles and responsibilities. A potential husband must be committed to complementary roles found in Scripture. He must be ready to embrace his responsibility to love and lead his wife. (Eph. 5:22-25). In addition to comparing the young man to this list of essentials, we also helped our daughters evaluate God’s commands to wives. From Scripture we asked our daughters the following questions regarding the young man each was considering: -Do you fully respect this man the way a wife is called to respect her husband? -Can you eagerly submit to him as the church submits to Christ? -Do you have faith to follow this man no matter where he may lead? -Can you love this man with a tender, affectionate love? (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22, 33; Col. 3:8; Titus 2:4-5) Again, this list of qualities and questions is hardly exhaustive. However, it provided clear, objective, and biblical criteria to assist our daughters in discerning God’s will.
2013 at 10:18 am | by Nicole Whitacre
“In a few moments, everything will change,” he told the bride and groom. “When you walk back up that aisle, you will never be the same again. You will be husband and wife.”
It was a gorgeous Saturday evening as we celebrated the marriage ceremony of the happy couple under a splendid summer sky.
“From this moment on, you will face the changes of life together, as one flesh,” said my father, who was officiating the wedding, “And so, let me remind you of the Changeless One.”
“The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8
Going out and coming in. Together. He will keep you.
In change, kept by the Changeless One.
From the back, where I am keeping watch over my two bouncy flower girls, I contemplate the wedding witnesses who nod knowingly of the life-changes of which he speaks. They understand just how much these two will need to lean on the Changeless One.
Twenty-six years ago, when I was not much older than my daughters, I watched my dad marry the groom’s parents. Since then, I have watched the parents of both the bride and the groom trust God through many goings out and comings in. They have walked steadily, in faithfulness to God and each other, lighting a path through change for their children to follow.
He will keep you.
After what seems like an eternity, the moment of change finally arrives for the happy couple. With their parents behind them, man and wife walk back up the aisle, into a changing future held by the Changeless One.
We sang, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” under the vast Kentucky sky, the bride, the groom, and us.
“Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.”
“And now my dear, I come to you, I have not included you in my list because you, my dear, stand in a totally different position from all others. You are not one of God’s agents to make me what I am, rather you are myself. You are my thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Without this chapter no human being is truly human. Without you I would have accepted love…But without you, my dear, I would not have ‘had’ love. I should not think of saying that I love you; that would be quite false. Rather you are the one part of me, which would be lacking if I was alone…It is only in our union—you and I—that we form a complete human being…And that is why, my dear, I am quite certain that you will never lose me on this earth—no, not for a moment. And this fact it was given us to symbolize finally through our common participation in the Holy Communion, that celebration which was my last.” Helmuth von Moltke was hanged in prison on January 23, 1945. Dr. Haykin writes: “This letter to Freya, one of sixteen hundred that Moltke wrote to her during the course of their love and marriage, presents a strong picture of the oneness of Christian marriage and how, in the words of the Song of Solomon, ‘many waters cannot quench love’ for it is stronger than death (Song 8:7, ESV).”
A while ago I told my husband that whenever I went to a particular online parenting forum, I came away feeling anxious about our children. He simply (and wisely) told me not to read it.
But sometimes the simplest advice is the hardest to take.
A few weeks ago, another update from this group appeared in my inbox and the headline caught my attention. I’m OK now, I can handle it, I thought. And besides, It’s important for me to be informed on this issue. So I clicked.
The post, by a woman I have never met, was about a crisis in her family. And my mind began racing, a mile a minute, wondering if we were on the verge of a similar disaster. Am I missing the warning signs? What if this happens to us?
My husband shook his head and smiled, as if to say “You could have avoided all this anxiety, if only you had taken my advice!” to which I offered no argument.He then explained why he did not think we were on the verge of a family crisis, and patiently led me back to the relevant truths from God’s Word.
The Internet age has conditioned us to think that because we can read everything, we should read everything. In fact, we think we have a kind of obligation to be “informed.” We must have “all the facts.”
But we must reexamine this “obligation to be informed” or this “right to know” from a biblical perspective. When the Corinthians tried to insist “All things are lawful for me” Paul rejoined “but not all things are helpful…I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12).
So let’s hold this straight edge up against our online browsing habits:
It is “lawful” to read an online news source, but is it helpful for you?
It is “lawful” to visit online forums or chat rooms but does it build you up in the gospel? Does it build others up in the gospel?
It is “lawful” to follow certain Twitter or Facebook feeds, but is it always helpful?
In God’s kingdom, the prize doesn’t go to the “well-informed”, the one who knows everything about everything and everyone, but rather to the one who knows the God who knows everything: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom…but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me…declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)
With that in mind, less time on the Internet and more time in God’s Word seems, in what must be a massive understatement, helpful.