When I look at my marriage from the outside, I think that my husband and I are doing a pretty good job. We have disagreements, but we have great communication skills and have learned to talk about things before letting them get too big. My husband is a very patient man, so I think a lot of our successes are because of him, but don’t tell him I said that. I mean he even wrote this article for my blog, so he can’t be that bad. I have a lot of secular friends who look at my life and don’t understand how our relationship can be so great.
However, as soon as I remember that I’m not supposed to be measuring my marriage against the world, but rather after God, I start to realize that my marriage isn’t as perfect as it seems.
I think it’s great to reflect on all the great parts of your marriage, but when we start to get complacent, that is when we fail.
We are in a small group with some of our close friends, and it has been a great way for us as friends to be accountable to each other. We do studies on a number of different topics including marriage, studies of different books of the bible, or parenting. One of the studies we did recently was on The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It has been a very helpful tool in our marriage. If you don’t know your love language, you can take the test here.
Here is a little overview for those of you who don’t know what the 5 Love Languages are about:
The 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Serving, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
The idea is that there are five emotional love languages — five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. We naturally speak our own love language, since that is the love language we understand best. However, it’s not often that a husband and wife have the same love language. This can lead to misunderstanding and hurt in a marriage. If my love language is quality time, I will naturally use that language on my husband to try and show my love to him. But if my husband’s love language is words of affirmation, his “love tank” will not be filled up.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just say “I love you” and have that be enough to fill up our spouse? In English, we use the same word for different meanings. I can say that “I love chips” (which I really, really do), and in the next breath say that I love my husband. Love doesn’t hold the same meaning. For example, there are four different words for love in greek, because love can have so many different meanings.
While we were doing the love languages study, we each took the test to see what our love language was. Even if you think you know what your love language is, I would encourage you to take it again. Some of us were surprised by our love language. Once you know your spouses love language, it’s easier for you to show them that you care about them.
My husband’s primary love language is words of affirmation. I joke with him that all I have to do to fill him up is tell him that he looks good, he’s a good pastor, and a great father. But it’s kind of true. When I speak to him with words of affirmation, he feels filled up and he feels loved. This allows him to pour more into me and into his family.
Now I have to admit, I am very stubborn. It’s something I constantly have to be aware of in my marriage. I also say things I shouldn’t. While we were all learning about the easiest way to build up your husband, I was realizing something just as important — the easiest way to tear down your husband.
The easiest way to tear down your husband is to use his love language against him.
When I get mad at my husband for something, I lash out at him with my words. Since the easiest way to fill him up is by words of affirmation, the easiest way to tear him down is by disaffirming him with my words. By using his love language against him and tearing him down with my words, I was going deeper than just expressing my frustration. I was being emotionally destructive to him.
In the moment, I can be really mean if I am hurt. I try to rationalize my actions and say that I’m acting this way because he needs to learn to not do that anymore. Maybe I thought I was teaching him a lesson. I don’t know. But I have been going about it all the wrong way.
Husbands are drawn to wives who are meeting their emotional needs.
Instead of trying to “teach my husband a lesson” or whatever the heck I thought I was doing before, I need to communicate my feelings while still meeting his emotional needs. Yes, I was frustrated when his one hour meeting on his day off turned into a 2.5 hour meeting (which actually happened today). However, instead of lashing out at him, I told him that I was really frustrated that he didn’t properly communicate the depth of this meeting. I then told him that I’m thankful that he’s such a hard worker and that I realize this comes with the job. Okay, I also gave him the silent treatment for like five minutes. I told you I wasn’t perfect.
I want to be the type of wife that builds her husband up, even when he makes mistakes. Which he does, all the time. I don’t want my husband to want to be better because he doesn’t want me to be mean to him, I want him to want to be better because I am supportive of him. I want to do better, and I want my husband to want to do better, because that is what God requires of us.
So, I’m learning. I’m definitely not perfect. And the more I measure my marriage against God instead of against other couples, I realize I need God to help me in my marriage. I am flawed. I lash out when I’m hurt. And I know just how to tear my husband down, if I really want to. I have to pray for my marriage (and my horrible responses) daily, because it takes that much effort to make it work.
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