Tit 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
As I read along toward the end of the New Testament, little did I know that God had saved until last His most exciting insight about being a wife! In the tiny book of Titus, I discovered that I am to hold my husband first in my heart after God. That's the clear implication of God's instruction to the older women in the church who are to teach the younger women how to be women after God's heart. The first thing married women are to learn and practice is to love their husbands.
Heartfelt Yet Practical Love
When I looked at Titus 2:4 in my Bible, I thought, "Well, of course I love my husband!" But just to be sure about God's meaning, I made another trip to Jim's bookshelf. What I found on that blessed trip revealed another aspect of my job assignment from God! Let me explain.
God loves you and me unconditionally regardless of our shortcomings, and certainly we wives are to love our husband with that kind of unconditional love. But when God instructs us to "love" our husband in Titus 2:4, the word is phileo, meaning friendship love, a love that cherishes, enjoys, and likes our husband! We are to value him and build a friendship with him. We should see our husband as our best friend and want to be with him more than any other person.
Yes, But How?
How can a wife nurture a heart of love, a heart prepared to support her husband in practical ways "until death do us part"?
Decide to make your husband your number one human relationship. Our relationship with our husband is meant to be more important than the relationships we enjoy with our parents, friends, a good neighbor, a brother or sister, a best friend, and even our children, and the way we use our time should reflect that rank ordering!
I learned a lot about this kind of decision while reading a book written by a mother and her married daughter, Jill Briscoe and Judy Goltz. Right before her daughter was married, Jill sat her down and told her that, once she was married, she couldn't come running home and she was no longer to be dependent on her parents, for anything!
Then the daughter wrote: "When [Greg and I] were first married, I almost automatically reached for the telephone whenever I had a certain problem or very good news to share. Usually before I finished dialing your number, Mom, I realized what I was doing, and I made sure Greg knew about it first before calling you."
Judy also asked her mother, "Do you remember the time Greg and I had a newly married tiff and I called you in tears? The first thing you said to me was, "Judy, does Greg know you are calling me?"
I say, "Bravo!" to this mother who voluntarily stepped out of a number one relationship with her daughter and showed her the way to make her husband her new number one relationship! After all, God said that we are to "leave and cleave", to leave our parents and cleave to our mate (Genesis 2:24). When parents are involved in a child's marriage, when God's commands are not obeyed and His priorities for relationships are not observed, problems arise.
In Building a Great Marriage, Bible teacher Anne Ortlund suggests that couples consider signing an agreement which spells out the status between marriage partners and parents. The wording might go something like this: "I am no longer accountable to obey my parents. I am freed from that authority, to be bound, joyfully and securely, to my mate." One pastor at my church includes vows for the parents during the wedding ceremony. They basically vow to stay out of the new couple's marriage!
Whenever I counsel a young married woman, I enthusiastically encourage her to talk to her mother and mother-in-law about recipes, skills, crafts, interests, the Bible, and spiritual growth. But I am emphatic when I say not to talk to either woman about her husband! (And that works the other way too. Mothers and mothers-in-law shouldn't be discussing their husbands with their daughters and daughters-in-law.)
To make your husband number one will take some work as you deal with drop-in parents, learn not to plan things with either set of parents (or anyone else, for that matter) without asking Mr. Number One first, and handle expectations (Of course, you'll be spending Christmas with us?...Or coming over every Sunday?....Or calling every day?). Your husband has to be Number One, and know it. And everyone else needs to know it, too.
Begin to choose your husband over all other human relationships. Again, this includes your children. Two psychologists stated, "The point at which many marriages jump the track is in OVER-investing in children and UNDER-investing in the marriage." I read this true-life story to myself often.
"It's Too Late Now"
Today's letter will have a somber tone. I'm about to tell you a sad story... of a woman who put her children ahead of her husband...
These last two years he's been especially lonesome. Reason? His wife has literally latched onto their youngest daughter. She's one of those hang-on-to-your-children-for-dear-life mothers [and] this year when the last one enrolled at the university, she came unglued....Now the lady is turning to her husband, hoping....
When was the last time they were close? He simply can't remember and he can't forget the bitterness. All those years in second place he'd made a life of his own. Had to....Not right. Of course it isn't. But all these years his wife has been talking to him, at him, seldom with him. Think of the fun they could be having now if they had developed a friendship.
I know too many men who, when their children came, turned down a lonesome road. And when you've gone too long single file, it's hard coming back to double. So much has happened alone it just seems easier to say, "It's too late now".
You're wise to keep checking priorities. You can be both mother and wife. But the wise woman remembers she will begin and end as a wife.
Ask of your lifestyle, "Am I spoiling my husband rotten?" This is what loving your husband is really all about, spoiling him rotten! And here are nine tried and true ways to groom yourself in the fine art of showering your husband with friendship-love.
As I said at the beginning, we should see our husband as our best friend and we should work on building a friendship with him. That work takes planning, but the rewards are definitely worth the effort as they flow out of a heart that loves. Why not pause and pray for your husband, your number one friend, right now? Thank God for the love for your husband He has placed in your heart and ask for His help in sharing it with your husband. After you say "Amen", plan to do something special for your husband today that sends a message of friendship from your heart to his.