Editor’s Note: The following article was written in response to an article published by Desiring God titled “Husbands, Get Her Ready For Jesus.”
It was one of those moments. During a conversation, my best friend asked about my partnership with my husband.
After we talked for a while about what it means to follow Christ and trust our partners in relationships, she said, “You know how to take care of each other. Trust those instincts.”
I wasn’t surprised at all. My best friend, in her wisdom, was reminding me of the beauty of marriage.
A Call to Partnership
It’s pretty clear: God calls us to care for one another in all aspects of being a good neighbor, and God calls us to love each other in our relationships.
John 13:34-35: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Just as Jesus shows us what it means to love, to truly love even our enemies, wives can show our partners what it means to love.
This takes so many forms, of course. Love comes as sacrifice, as honesty, as bearing each other’s burdens. Love comes when we have to humbly say a difficult word and take the difficult words coming back to us. Love is so, so humble.
Whether we read the Bible in a daily quiet time or not, we’re called to being holy, as in, walking with the Spirit of Jesus that guides all the things we do, without shame.
Sure, we are broken. Sure, there’s deep sin in the world.
And even the most wonderful husbands, the most loyal partners still need help, without being shamed. So does every partner, every person.
Both partners are equally given a really meaningful role to play in this partnership, in this way of caring for one another through every kind of brokenness. So we learn how to respond to one another.
Most of us need to learn how to be more humble, and that means in our marriages and partnerships. When Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, do not be harsh with them,” he’s asking for humility. He’s reminding husbands to lay themselves down in humility, to be humble and gentle listeners. But it’s the same for wives. Humility doesn’t choose gender roles. It is a constant, steady reality that we should choose to walk in.
Be Quicker to Listen Than to Speak
Sure, many of us hold in our emotions. That’s probably a great place for a therapist to come in.
But being timid in our relationships isn’t the same thing as being a good listener. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak, but we also shouldn’t be afraid to listen when it’s hard. As wives, when our husbands struggle with listening, we need to remind ourselves how to be good listeners, too.
Humility and listening seem to be really great partners, and as wives, we get to practice this with our partners. As wives, we get to show the face of Jesus to the world around us. We get to settle into that really difficult and beautiful tension that the world often misses.
Truth and Love
The love of Christ is found everywhere. It’s found in the trees outside our windows, it’s found in the rivers and the lakes. It’s found in places we least expect it, far outside the church doors and it’s found in our partnerships and relationships with others, even when we struggle.
The point is being present.
The point is humble listening on all sides, not manipulation or abuse. Humble listening is the gospel in relationship.
4 Practical Principles
Some may be thinking, wow, this is hard. How can I be more humble?
Stop Focusing on Yourself
Sometimes we make things worse when we fixate on them. Our own problems are amplified, and then we begin to amplify our partner’s problems. We begin to see things in a very narrow lens, and then we begin narrowing our ability to practice grace and humility. We’ve got to step outside of ourselves and back into Christ.
Sin Isn’t Always Sin
We need to be careful about what we consider “sin” in our interactions with others. If you grew up evangelical like I did, nitpicking everything is exactly the opposite of grace. There are obvious sins in the world that need to be carefully attended to, but just because I, as a wife and partner, don’t agree with something my partner does or thinks, doesn’t always mean they need my correction, or worse, shameful comments.
Watch Before You Talk
As Americans, we don’t often want to watch the world around us—or our relationships for that matter. In indigenous culture, we watch things. We watch the birds, we watch the trees, we watch what’s happening around us and that reflects on who we are and what our role in the world is. There is a lot we can do to pay attention before we react, before we share our opinions on what our partners should or shouldn’t be doing. Let’s be better watchers than talkers.
Don’t Assume Anything
Your partner is unique, just like you are. Don’t assume that they want a certain way of communicating. Don’t assume anything, actually. It’s what gets us in trouble a lot of the time. Instead, approach one another out of a willingness to love without holding back.
A Forever Calling
I have no idea what it will be like when we die. I grew up with this vision of heaven that I certainly hope for, but I know it’s going to be something far different than my expectations, just like my partner is different than what I expected. I hold him in grace just like he holds me in grace.
With God’s glory, I pray we think less about correction toward our partners and more about humility, presence, and constant care.