Elisabeth Elliot was the one who first encouraged me to write a book about the difference Christ makes in the life of someone who has a less-than-ideal background. Over a decade passed before I typed the first word.
It took nearly two years to write Choosing Him All Over Again: A Story of Romance and Redemption; I wrote mostly at night when my family was asleep. But I knew I had to tell the story of how God saved our marriage from near divorce.
The following eleven checkpoints are expanded in the book and adapted from two of my favorite authors, J.R. Miller and Anne Ortlund. These checkpoints are not intended to be a prescription for every Christian to follow but a description of a loving wife’s role in the Christian home. I keep them in my prayer folder and read them aloud in my quiet time, and they help keep me focused on my part as a wife.
Here is an abbreviated version of the eleven checkpoints:
1. I will say “I love you” to my husband every day.
I don’t always do this, but writing it out to myself and reading it helps me to remember that saying those words, or texting them, or leaving them on a voicemail mean a lot. The Bible tells us “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
2. I will not bring up my husband’s past failures today.
The Bible tells us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Forgiveness must be a habit—a way of life. Don’t we want to be forgiven when we have made a mistake? We must choose to keep on forgiving.
3. I will put from my mind any weaknesses of my husband, which I cannot change, and concentrate on his strengths.
Concentrate on the good points of your husband! Remember Eve—she had everything she could possibly need or want, but she chose to focus on the one thing she shouldn’t have paid any attention to, and the human race has been in a mess ever since. Look at all that God has provided in your husband by focusing on his good points.
4. I will seek to bring laughter into my husband’s life today.
Have a good time together! Laugh. Have fun together. Smile. (Boy! I am talking to myself here just as much to you, if not more! I can take myself way too seriously and forget to smile at my husband.) Enjoy each other! “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Ask yourself, “Am I fun to live with?” It’s amazing how laughter can diffuse a tense situation or a potential argument.
5. I will give my husband some little gift today—a tangible one or a word or deed.
“A gift in secret soothes anger” (Proverbs 21:14). A note on the pillow or any thoughtful act is small in effort, but huge in effect. Remember, we were made for romance in marriage!
6. I will not end this day angry with my husband.
Before bed, say, “I’m sorry; I was wrong,” so you can keep short accounts and the air cleared daily with your husband. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). Don’t get into an argument late at night. The sun has already gone down! Get a good night’s rest, and it may even solve itself in the morning.
7. I will practice loving patience.
No matter how close you two were before you got married, much will be discovered about your spouse once you are married. The true self will appear, with all of its undesirable characteristics. Your husband may squeeze the toothpaste differently from you; he may have peculiar habits or tastes that you never knew of before (as he will discover about you!). Harmony takes time to develop; patience is needed. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
8. I will practice courtesy toward my husband.
It is so easy after the wedding is over to fall into the habit of taking your husband for granted and forgetting to extend courtesy toward him. It should not be so! Tenderness, kindness, and thoughtfulness toward your husband go a long way. Blessed is the person who is respected most by those who know him best! Make courtesy your rule, as far as it depends on you. Gifts for your husband on special days such as birthdays and anniversaries should not be empty gifts, but symbols of the courtesy you have shown him all year long.
9. I will seek unity of interest.
Beware of leading separate lives! Nothing can cause a marriage to drift apart more than letting separate duties, friendships, and interests continually separate your union. Soon, your physical separation can evolve into a deep-rooted separation. If you continually leave your husband out of all you do and who you see, you could become callous toward him, the one you pledged to esteem higher than any other relationship. This must not be! Be on your guard toward unity of interest, for we read in Genesis 2:24 “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”
10. I will make some comment today about the hope of God’s wonderful tomorrow.
Build hope—God is in charge! He plans to give you a hope and a future! Encourage your spouse. Point to God’s wonderful tomorrow!
11. I will pray for my husband before the day ends.
I try to lift my husband up to the Lord in the morning, including anything I know specifically about that day. I miss some days, but I don’t let that discourage me from picking it back up the next day. Don’t let your lack of prayer keep you from praying! Pray for each other, and together if it is possible. It is hard to be critical and angry when you are praying together!
Learn more about Juana at www.juanamikels.com.
[Image via John Hope/flickr]