Archive | August 2012

7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Husband

I’m telling my age to admit it, but my first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100. Back in the early 80’s, all incoming freshmen at Dallas Baptist University were required to buy one and to take a class that would teach us to use it.

Nevertheless, it was not until I met my future husband (three years and countless computer-printed assignments later) that I learned anything about the machine’s text-wrapping capabilities. For six long semesters, I’d kept a furtive watch on the LCD display and hit “return” every time the curser got close to the right-hand side of the screen, a holdover habit from years spent using a manual typewriter.

Within days of our first meeting, however, Doug observed my unusual approach to word processing and gently informed me that, if I would just keep typing, the text would automatically bump down to the next line without my doing anything to make it happen.

That one little pointer saved me massive amounts of time, completely revolutionized the way I did homework, and contributed even further to my rapidly growing affection for the guy I’d eventually marry.

What’s more, this was but the first of innumerable things he would teach me. Subsequent lessons have ranged from the practical (how to change the oil in my car, how to serve a volleyball, how to fend off an armed attacker) to the profound (how should our faith influence our actions? what does it mean to serve God with our whole heart? how can we most effectively communicate His love to others?).

Some of these concepts are just too good to keep to myself, so I’ve decided to publish seven of my favorites in a series of posts devoted to the “Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My Husband.” You’ll find a brief synopsis of each listed below:

  1. Keep Your Eyes on the Ball
    You must stay focused on your goals if you ever hope to reach them.
  2. Laughter is Good Medicine
    A sense of humor makes good times more pleasant and bad times more bearable.
  3. You Can Learn a Lot by Reading Fiction
    I used to think that reading fiction was a waste of time; now I know otherwise.
  4. Perfectionism Is a Trap
    There are lots of areas in life where “good enough” should be good enough.
  5. Always Tip Your Waiter Well
    Good service deserves it; poor service will be improved by it.
  6. God Wants the Whole Pie
    He’ll never be satisfied with a single piece, no matter how big or promptly offered.
  7. It’s Only Money
    Our security rests in God, not in the numbers on our bank statement.

I hope you’ll come back to read the full post for each point (which I’ll be publishing weekly), and that you will be as richly blessed as I have by these life-changing lessons.

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Go to LIFE LESSON #1 >>

A Brief Moment in Time

My husband and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary last week by renewing our vows in the same church where we first pledged our life and love to one another twenty-five years ago. The ceremony was entirely my husband’s idea, a sweet surprise for his hopelessly sentimental bride. He made all the necessary arrangements surreptitiously, and I never suspected a thing.

He’s not very good at keeping secrets, though, so he ended up spilling the beans a few days early. And was I ever glad he did! The advanced warning allowed me to pack proper wedding clothes and gave our little ones time to make bouquets and boutonnières for the big day.

Had Doug waited until the last minute to spring this on me, I’d probably have been wearing a cotton tank and black capris when I met him at the altar. That would have just ruined the whole effect.

25 Years Later

The ceremony was short and sweet with only ourselves and the-children-who-are-still-living-at-home in attendance. We read our vows, sang some songs, prayed, kissed, and snapped a few pictures.

When it came time to leave, we forwent throwing rice in favor of blowing bubbles. As one might expect, this was a huge hit with our children, young and old alike.

The bubbles were beautiful, and — what’s even better — they didn’t get stuck in our teeth and ears and navels like all that birdseed our guests tossed at us the first time we dashed down these steps.

Fragile and fleeting, bubbles are also a good metaphor for life itself. When you think about it, there is nothing remarkable or even particularly pretty about bubble solution so long as it stays safely inside the jar….

In order to become all it was meant to be — shimmering and beautifully iridescent in its fulness — the solution must first be drawn out, stretched thin, and breathed upon by one skilled in the art of bubble making.

It must be wrapped around and filled with something outside itself — a very specific something, mind you — something invisible yet ever present, something lowly esteemed yet essential to life, something gentle as a whisper yet strong as a hurricane.

As it happened, the same day I was celebrating 25 years of marriage to my husband, a dear friend of mine was burying hers. His death had come suddenly and unexpectedly after a very short illness, a poignant reminder that “none of us know what will happen tomorrow. We are but a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4 14) We are like these bubbles.

My friend has been on my heart ever since I received the shocking news of her husband’s passing, but the profound grief I feel over her loss is accompanied by a keen sense of gratitude for each day God grants me with my own dear husband and a fresh desire to live wisely and well the brief moment in time my life occupies. I want to do all I can to make this life a happy one for those who share it with me.

I’ve heard from a lot of women lately who claim that happiness in life and marriage comes only through demanding our rights, preserving our autonomy, ignoring the needs of others, and living in selfish indulgence. (Interestingly, those who argue this point most vehemently seem to be the least happy of all.)

Scripture teaches the opposite: the path to true happiness and fulfillment comes through pouring oneself out on behalf of others. “Whoever clings to his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life shall find it.” (Luke 17:33) This has been my own experience. Marriage, motherhood, friendship — these are all about putting another person’s needs ahead of your own. And — like bubbles on a breeze — there is an intense and radiant beauty about a life so lived that makes the watching world stop and marvel.

Silk Embroidery and Secret Codes

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog, one of my favorite pastimes back when we lived in Dallas was frequenting home shows. This may have been, as one friend suggested, my way of escaping the fact that at the time my husband and I were ourselves living in a miniscule apartment, together with a growing brood of small children. My friend couldn’t imagine how supremely happy we were in those modest surroundings, despite the fact we could sit at our dinner table and retrieve milk from the refrigerator, answer the back door, or switch on the bathroom light—almost without leaving our seats.

But the truth is that I enjoyed walking through other people’s houses because doing so gave me such grand ideas for decorating my own. We were blessed with an accommodating landlady who let us paint walls, hang curtains, add shelves, and plant flowers to our heart’s content, so our little hole-in-the-wall became more pleasant, warm, and inviting with every home tour we attended.

In reality, our humble abode bore little resemblance to the lavish residences we toured. The sum total of our living space would have fit into one of their walk-in closets with room to spare. But our home was characterized by a spirit of love and joy that I suspect was lacking in at least one of the sprawling mansions we visited.

What makes me think so? A sign in the master bedroom told me as much.

Lifestyles of the Rich

This bedroom wasn’t just a bedroom; it was an entire wing of the house. Such opulence you wouldn’t believe. An exquisite Persian rug covered the floor and felt lush beneath our stocking feet (visitors had been asked to remove their shoes at the door). The walls were adorned with priceless works of art—all original oil paintings or signed and numbered prints. Two overstuffed armchairs flanked the marble fireplace, a gleaming silver tea service perched atop an antique tray table between them. A beveled mirror in an ornate frame hung above the mantle to camouflage the high definition television built into the wall behind it.

Beyond the fireplace, a chaise lounge stood in front of floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows through which we could see a pristine blue granite pool shaded by potted palm trees and bordered by well-tended beds of trailing lantana, bright impatiens, and fragrant gardenias. Atrium doors in the master bedroom opened onto a wide veranda that overlooked the pool, granting the couple easy access for late-night dips in the attached Jacuzzi.

Of course, the focal point of any bedroom is the bed, and theirs was no exception. Centered on the wall opposite the fireplace was an enormous reproduction of something straight out of Princess and the Pea. It was so high that a stepstool was needed—and provided—just to climb into it. Four massive mahogany posts supported an ornately carved canopy that brushed the ceiling. Heavy curtains of silk brocade hung at each corner. The thick mattress was buried beneath a sumptuous duvet, its topmost edge folded back to reveal smooth satin sheets beneath, and the towering headboard was fronted by ranks of ruffled, tucked, and tufted pillows and bolsters in an array of complementary patterns, textures, and designs.

It was here that I spotted, upon closer inspection, the telltale sign that something in this home was amiss. There, standing prominently at the head of that army of cushions, was a small needlework pillow bearing the sentiment,


Keep in mind that everything (else) about this room whispered romance: A pile of logs crackled in the fireplace. Sweet violin music wafted through the speaker system. Scented candles flickered on the nightstand. And that luxuriant bed beckoned, “Come. Drink your fill of love until morning.”
It was enough to quicken the pulse of any husband still in possession of half his senses—but all for naught.

Should the pitiable man dare think of approaching his wife with tender words or ardent hopes, The Pillow stood sentry, ready to quench his passion with icy water. What a cruel trick! What a slap in the face! Did the heartless wife hide the cursed thing on that rare occasion she was in the mood? Did her husband’s heart lift when he noticed it missing?

The Corner of a Roof

The book of Proverbs speaks of such a home as this. It tells us unequivocally, “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and turmoil with it. Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred” (Prov. 15:16-17). And again, two chapters later, it declares, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife” (Prov. 17:1).

Whence does all this strife and tension and turmoil come? I’m convinced that in many instances, the root source is a wife’s negativity. Proverbs 21:9 tells us: “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” When most of us hear that verse, we picture an embittered, demanding nag who is impossible to please. That sort of faultfinding person might be described as being actively contentious, but for the purposes of the present discussion, I want to focus on the flip side of this problem: that of being passively contentious.

You see, a wife does not have to continuously harp on her husband in an irritating voice to be a thorn in his side. In fact, she can be absolutely insufferable without ever opening her mouth at all. How? By practicing the art of manipulation. She can sulk and pout or cry and carry on until she gets her own way or—what’s worse—she can simply withhold sex until her husband gives in to her demands out of sheer desperation. This is contention in its most insidious form, for her husband has no recourse. He must either capitulate or be driven mad.

If you habitually put off your husband’s sexual advances, if you routinely insist that he wait until some remote time when you are “in the mood” before you give him what he so desperately desires, then you are by definition being contentious. A good synonym for the verb “to contend” is “to resist,” which is precisely what you are doing when you refuse to have sex with your husband.

According to the Bible, a man would be better off inhabiting a corner of the roof — exposed to what? Scorching heat? Gale-force winds? Torrential rain? Anything would be more tolerable than sharing a house with a contentious, resistant, vexing wife. For the sake of your husband, for the sake of your children, for the sake of your home—please do not allow a lagging libido to limit the frequency with which you make love to your husband. Otherwise, you may exchange what could have been heaven-on-earth for something far inferior.

Sending a Different Message

I sometimes think back on the little “headache pillow” which first caught my eye during that luxury home tour so long ago. I’m sorry to report, that wasn’t the only time I’ve noticed such a hateful thing being used to accessorize an otherwise beautiful bed. In fact, I’ve seen so many “Not Tonight” pillows over the years that I’ve completely lost count. (There’s obviously a bigger market for needlepoint excuses than I realized.)

Every time I spotted a new one, I felt an intense urge to showcase a drastically different “message” on my own bed. I admired the exquisite needlework, but wanted my pillow to say something along the lines of “Tonight and Every Night” or “I’m Ready When You Are” or maybe even “Bring It On.”

Two things prevented my acting on this impulse. First was the knowledge that our parents, children, friends, and houseguests might consider it in poor taste for us to adorn our bed with such a straightforward reminder of why we share it. Second was the fact that, regardless how earnestly I searched, I could never find a store that even sold pillows with such sentiments stitched upon them. Go figure!

Still, it was an idea that refused to die. Although I could sidestep the second issue by sewing the pillow myself, the first concern still presented a problem. How could I phrase what I wanted to say in a way that others wouldn’t find offensive or embarrassing?

The solution came to me unexpectedly about twelve years ago when my husband and I were at a Sunday school class dinner. One of the other couples in attendance knew about the commitment Doug and I had made early in our marriage to always pray together before having sex, so when we tried to slip away from the party early, they couldn’t resist teasing us a bit.

“Are you guys going home to pray?” they called to us across the parking lot.

My husband answered back with a grin, “Well, we’ve already prayed together once today, but we might decide to pray again.”

“You know what they say,” the couple laughed. “You can never pray too much!”

And there I had it… the sentiment I would stitch on my pillow.

If you were to visit our home today, you would find a spacious master suite, complete with plush Persian rug and four-poster bed. The dust ruffle, duvet, and a mound of pillows were custom-made by me in complementary colors, textures, and patterns. And there in the center of it all, you would find a beautiful little velvet cushion, hand-embroidered with silk ribbon roses and tiny glass beads.

To the rest of the world it simply says, “You can never pray too much.” But to my husband, who can decipher my secret code, it sends another message entirely. To him, it clearly reads, “You can never have too much sex… and I’m ready when you are.”

The choice is yours. What message will you send to your husband?

The above article was adapted from my book, LOVE YOUR HUSBAND/LOVE YOURSELF: EMBRACING GOD’S PURPOSE FOR PASSION IN MARRIAGE, pp. 61-74.

A Husband’s Duty: To Love His Wife

For any readers who may have thought it unfair for me to discuss a wife’s responsibility to show respect for her husband without mention of the husband’s obligation to love his wife, I offer this companion list for men: 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife.
It’s good stuff. My husband wrote it, but more importantly, he lives it. You’ll find the full list posted on his blog, All Truth is God’s Truth. Read it, print it, share it with your husband, but please don’t wait for him to make the first move. Your demonstrating sincere respect for him will make it easier for him to feel genuine love towards you, and vice versa.

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

Actions speak louder than words. You can say you respect your husband, but he’ll have a hard time believing that unless your behavior backs it up.

What does respectful living look like? Here are 25 ways you can communicate respect to your spouse without uttering a word. If you’ll make it your habit to do these things, the next time you tell your husband how much you respect him, he won’t have to wonder if you really mean it.

  1. Choose Joy
    It’s true: A happy wife makes a happy life. Please don’t use moodiness as an attempt to manipulate your man, but in all things rejoice, because that’s the right thing to do. (1 Thessaonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4)
  2. Honor His Wishes
    Give weight to what your husband thinks is important. Make those things a priority that matter most to him, whether it’s having dinner ready when he gets home from work or keeping the house tidy or limiting computer time. Don’t make him ask twice. (Philippians 2:4)
  3. Give Him Your Undivided Attention
    Yes, I know that women are masters of multi-tasking, but when your husband is speaking to you, make a point to lay other tasks aside, look into his eyes, and listen to what he is saying with the goal of understanding and remembering his words.
  4. Don’t Interrupt
    Have you ever been around a person who won’t let you finish a sentence? That gets old fast. Even if you think you already know what your husband is going to say, allowing him to say it without cutting him off mid-sentence shows both respect and common courtesy.
  5. Emphasize His Good Points
    Sure, he has his faults (as do you), but dwelling on them will only make you (both) miserable. Choose instead to focus on those qualities in your husband that you most admire. (Philippians 4:8)
  6. Pray for Him
    Ruth Graham advises wives to “tell your mate the positive, and tell God the negative.” Take your concerns to God. Faithfully lift up your husband in prayer every day, and you will likely notice a transformation not only in him, but in yourself, as well. (Philipians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  7. Don’t Nag
    Your husband is a grown man, so don’t treat him like a two-year-old. Leave room for God to work. You are not the Holy Spirit, so do not try to do His job.
  8. Be Thankful
    Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Don’t take your husband for granted. Be appreciative for everything he does for you, whether big or small. Always say thank you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20)
  9. Smile at Him
    Smiles spread happiness. Smiles have even been shown to create happiness. Smiles are contagious. And a smile makes any woman more beautiful.
  10. Respond Physically
    Did you know that the way you respond (or don’t respond) to your husband’s romantic overtures has a profound effect on his self-confidence? Don’t slap him away when he tries to hug you or make excuses when he’s in the mood. Your enthusiastic cooperation and reciprocation will not only assure him of your love, but will make him feel well-respected, too. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
  11. Eyes Only for Him
    Don’t compare your husband unfavorably to other men, real or imaginary. It is neither fair nor respectful and will only breed trouble and discontent. Avoid watching movies or reading books that might cause you to stumble in this area, as well. (Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 4:23)
  12. Kiss Him Goodbye
    I once read about a study done in Germany which found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than those who weren’t kissed. Success and respect often go hand-in-hand, so be sure to send him off right, and don’t forget to greet him with a kiss when he returns home, for good measure. (2 Corinthians 13:12)
  13. Prepare His Favorite Foods
    Although the rest of the family is not overly-fond of spaghetti, my husband loves it, so I try to make it at least two or three times a month as a way to honor him. Next time you’re planning meals, give special consideration to your husband’s preferences. (Proverbs 31:14-15)
  14. Cherish Togetherness
    I love to sit near my husband, whether at home or away. Our church shares potluck dinners every Sunday afternoon, and although the men and women normally sit separately to visit, I like to position myself close enough to my husband that I can listen to the conversation, as I think everything he says is so interesting. At home, I’ll take my book or handwork to whatever room in the house he’s working in, just to be close to him, because I enjoy his company, even when neither of us is talking.
  15. Don’t Complain
    Nobody wants to be around a whiner or complainer. It is grating on the nerves. Remember the serenity prayer: accept the things you can’t change, courageously change the things you can, seek wisdom to know the difference. (Philippians 2:14)
  16. Resist the Urge to Correct
    I know one wife whose spouse can’t tell a story without her stopping him fifteen times to correct inconsequential details: “It wasn’t Monday evening, it was Monday afternoon…. It wasn’t blue, it was turquoise…. He didn’t ride the bus, he took a shuttle.” Please. Please. Please. Don’t ever do that to your husband — or to anyone else, for that matter! (Proverbs 17:28)
  17. Dress to Please Him
    Take care of your appearance. Choose clothes your husband finds flattering, both in public and around the house.
  18. Keep the House Tidy
    To the best of your abilities, try to maintain a clean and orderly home. Seek to make it a haven of rest for your entire family. (Proverbs 31:27)
  19. Be Content
    Do not pressure your husband to keep up with the Jonses. Take satisfaction in the lifestyle he is able to provide for you. (1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 13:5)
  20. Take His Advice
    Do not dismiss his opinions lightly, especially when you’ve asked for his counsel in the first place. Make every effort to follow your husband’s advice.
  21. Admire Him
    Voiced compliments and heartfelt praise are always welcome, but you should also make it your habit to just look at your husband in a respectful, appreciative way. Think kind thoughts toward him. He’ll be able to see the admiration in your eyes. (Luke 6:45)
  22. Protect His Name
    Honor your husband in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Guard his reputation and do not let minor disagreements at home cause you to speak ill of him in public. Live in such a way that it will be obvious to others why your husband married you in the first place. (Proverbs 12:4; 22:1)
  23. Forgive His Shortcomings
    In the words of Ruth Bell Graham, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Please do not hold grudges against your husband. Do not allow a root of bitterness or resentment find a home in your heart. Forgive your husband freely, as Christ has forgiven you. (Mark 11:25; Matthew 18:21-35)
  24. Don’t Argue
    You are not always right, and you do not always have to have the last word. Be the first to say, “I’m sorry.” Be willing to accept the blame. It takes two to argue, so “abandon a quarrel before it breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14; 21:19; 25:24)
  25. Follow His Lead
    If you want your husband to lead, you must be willing to follow. Neither a body nor a family can function well with two heads. Learn to defer to your husband’s wishes and let final decisions rest with him. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Proverbs 18:22 tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Do these 25 things consistently, and your husband will never have trouble believing that fact.

25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband - Read the post. Sign up for the challenge. Order the book. 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife - Must reading for any man looking to improve his marriage.Did you like this post? Then you will love my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband — nearly 200 pages filled with Biblical wisdom and sensible suggestions for putting these principles into practice. And check out my husband’s companion book, as well: 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife. It’s based on his blog post by the same title.

And for those who’ve requested printable versions of these articles, you’ll find the list for wives here and the one for husbands here, with an option to print either article in its entirety or as a one-page summary.