I have to admit, I’ve always been a sucker for the “My husband is the best,” facebook statuses. So when I started seeing all my friends celebrating marriage, and posting pictures of their spouses all over facebook, I was thrilled. And even more excited when a friend nominated me to participate! Yay! Thanks, Amanda!
But like everyone who has ever done anything worthwhile knows, there are always naysayers ready to crap on what you’re doing. So I wasn’t shocked when this post started showing up in my newsfeed: I Cannot In Good Conscience Participate In the Love Your Spouse Challenge.
Let me first say, the author makes some good points. Marriage is not all sunshine and roses. It can be super hard. In fact, my husband just called me while I was writing this, and we got into a fight over something stupid.
But that, my friends, is exactly why we need things like the Love Your Spouse Challenge.
If marriage is hard, then shouldn’t we be filling our spouse’s love tank every chance we get? Shouldn’t we keep, and reflect often upon, a record of all of the great things about our other half?
My husband and I were very blessed to have received FANTASTIC pre-martial counseling. One of the precious pearls of wisdom we were given was this:
Never publicly speak ill of your spouse, especially to members of the opposite sex.
If no one ever passed on this piece of advice to you, let me tell you, it ranks in the top 10 best pieces of marriage advice that you will ever receive. Failing to follow this principle does at least 3 things:
It can lead to an affair.
Complaining about your spouse to an opposite sex friend puts you on precarious ground. You are creating intimacy with another person at the same time you are creating distance between you and your spouse. If you find yourself in a friendship, and one or both of you feel comfortable complaining about your spouse(s), take a cue from Joseph, and RUN!
It keeps your heart focused on your spouse’s flaws.
We are, all of us, sinners. And as such, none of us are perfect. Unless you are married to Jesus, there will always be things to complain about. But focusing on these things only creates feelings of anger and discontentment. This only serves to magnify whatever problems you already have. “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” Proverbs 26:20
It destroys your spouse’s reputation, and yours as well.
Friends, our words are powerful. They contain the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21) When you run down your spouse to other people, it changes the way they see him/her. While it can feel good in the short term to have another person confirm that your spouse “is the worst,” in the end, you are destroying both your spouse and yourself. When you became married, you became one. An attack on your spouse, is an attack on you.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:25-29)
Participating in the Love Your Spouse Challenge is the opposite of public ridicule. It is choosing to publicly honor the one to whom you have pledged yourself.
This is a good thing.
Especially on the days when you don’t feel like it, or they may not even deserve it. After all, isn’t that what love is?
Love is Patient.
Love is Kind.
It does not dishonor others.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13)
Here are just 3 of the benefits of publicly honoring your spouse.
It helps protect your marriage from an affair.
Speaking positively about your spouse not only avoids unwanted intimacy with another, it lets any predators know you are not vulnerable. There are those who would seek to step in on a marriage. Frequently speaking well of your spouse lets everyone know you aren’t going to be an easy target.
It promotes love in your marriage.
When you speak well of your spouse, it creates love, intimacy, and trust.
When my husband publicly praises me to another, or the world via social media, it touches my heart and lights a fire in me to put even more into my marriage. It makes me want to be near him. It opens my heart to trust him.
When I speak well of my husband, it reminds me of all of his positive traits. When I focus on those things, it makes me feel closer to him.
As anyone married for longer than 5 minutes will tell you, marriage is hard. The author of the above mentioned article is not wrong. But why make it harder by running your spouse down, or by passing up the opportunity to make it better by building them up?
“An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12
It protects the reputation of your spouse.
Just as your words can destroy the reputation of your spouse, they can also build it up. Proverbs 31 goes on to say that the husband of an excellent wife is “respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders.” (Proverbs 31:23) And this should interest us, not only for the sake of our spouse, but for our own sake as well. Who wants to be known as the wife of Al Bundy? Not me!
So, if you found yourself excited about the Love Your Spouse Challenge, and had your wind knocked out of you by someone claiming that celebrating your spouse creates a false perception of what marriage is really like, take heart. You can participate in the challenge with a clean conscience, and the knowledge that you are actively putting good things into your marriage.
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