Thursday, 7 June 2012

Our First Love

Do you remember when you were dating your husband?  Many of us were quite young then, and more than a little twitter-pated.  We'd stay up until all hours talking on the phone, take any opportunity to spend time with eachother and think about them all the time.  If you had a long-distance relationship you probably spent more weekends visiting him than was strictly advisable and you probably spent a pretty penny getting there.  You knew that you loved him, you knew that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with him, and you couldn't wait until you could finally do that.
Fast-forward to present times.  We love our husbands - we know that they are good men, we value them and we trust them.  They have their flaws, granted, but we know that they are a blessing in our lives and we really do love them. 

But is it the same as our first love for them?

In Revelation 2:4, Jesus rebukes the church in Ephesus for, "abandon[ing] the love you had at first."  These were people who were doing all the right things: they toiled, they endured, they tested and did not grow weary.  But, they forgot the first love that they had for Christ.  It was like a wife who did all the housework, and watched the kids, who volunteered in the church and brought meals to sick people, but who did it all without her husband in mind, or at heart. 

Do you see where I'm going with this? 

It's easy to get caught up in life.  It's easy to let our day-to-day regime get so intense that our efforts are focused on merely getting through the day.  It's easy to get comfortable once we have a routine, where we can do the same thing over and over again without much deviation and think that we are being successful because our house is clean and our kids are well-mannered.  But our hearts have to be in it, or all that we do is for naught.  And where should our hearts be, exactly?  First with our God, and then with our husbands. 

If you're in a rut, if you've lost your first love, here is your call to snap out of it.  Pursue God.  Fellowship with Him and spend time in His presence.  Serve Him and worship Him in all you do. 

Likewise, pursue your husband.  Regardless of whether or not you deem your marriage to be 'healthy' or otherwise, pursue him.  If you feel like the first love has gone out in your marriage, you can wait bitterly for him to pursue you, or you can begin to break down walls by taking the first step by serving him.  If there aren't walls built up in your marriage, still pursue him, and build him up by your love and affection. 

Here are some practical ideas for how to serve your husband and demonstrate your love for him.  But don't treat these things like a To Do list, where once you've done them you'll have a better marriage; treat these things like tools to help you refocus your priorities - first on God and His holy commands, and then on your husband.  Do them prayerfully, selflessly and for the joy of your husband and the glory of God - and always remember the first love you had for them

1) Do his chores: Mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, painting the fence, whatever job is usually assigned to him - get it done before he gets home and it will be a pleasant surprise for him and will help him know you desire to give him joy and peace.  (side note: make sure your husband knows this was not a way of showing your displeasure at a task not getting done soon enough!  If you can't do it without bitterness, pick another job!!)

2) Make his favorite food: Yes, even if it's boxed Mac and Cheese.  If he's not a 'favorites' kind of guy, make something that you haven't had in a really long time, or that you know he likes but you've never made it at home!  This will show him that you're thinking of him through the day and will help you to demonstrate that you don't just do housework because it's your 'job' - you do it because you love him!

3) Make him breakfast: Lots of women do this regularly, and it's a great habit to have.  Starting your day out together enforces your united front, gives you some time to connect before you face the world, and will show him that he's worth getting up for, even if you could have slept in a half hour longer otherwise!

4) Invite his family over: Grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, siblings - pick someone you don't see regularly but you know he enjoys.  Make a point of inviting them and setting time aside for them.  He'll know it's all for him and he'll appreciate the opportunity to see them.

5) Go with his opinion: We all do it... "Which of these do you like best???"  He answers (wrong) and you go with the one you wanted all along.  Trust his judgement once, even if it's not the way you would have gone.  He'll be flattered that you trust his taste, and pleased that he could be helpful.  And next time - don't bother asking if you're not actually indifferent!

6) Have a day that's all about him:  Listen to his radio station, eat at his favorite restaurant, take part in his hobbies and enjoy the time together!  He'll appreciate your interest, or at very least your attempt!

7) Give him a scalp/foot/back massage:  And this time, no trades - just don't expect him to be awake at the end! 

8) Wear that dress/shirt/necklace that you don't like, but that he picked out for you, to a high-visibility event.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, and love everything he's ever given you - compliment his taste and tell him how much you appreciate all the wonderful things he's given you!

9) Say 'yes' to something you usually say 'no' to: whether it's watching a war movie, going on a hike or fishing - if there's something that he really enjoys, but feels like he can't enjoy it with you, he may not get to partake in that pastime as often as he would like to.  Surprise him the next time he brings it up and let him know that you'd love to spend the time with him, even if you don't love the activity. 

10) Keep your bedroom clean as a place that you can relax in together: for those of us who don't have the gift of cleaning (right here!) it can be easy to clean for company, and to focus more on parts of the house that are visible to a wider range of people.  However, our priority should not be on pleasing the visitors we welcome into our home nearly as much as it should be on pleasing and serving our husbands.  Your bedroom is your space together, and it can be hard to unwind and rest in a messy space that reminds you of how much you still have to do.  Keep paperwork out of your bedroom, and ensure that it isn't a place of stress, but of peace.

To God be the glory, forever and ever, amen!

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