One of our family’s favorite movies is the romance-comedy adventure Princess Bride, a tale of ‘true love’ between Wesley and Buttercup. Wesley, a poor farm boy woos the beautiful Buttercup by responding to her every request with, “As you wish”, and happily complying with her request. Wesley’s response to her every desire demonstrates to Buttercup that he loves her, and eventually she too falls in love with him.
That movie —and far more importantly the cross of Christ—illustrates to us the essence of ‘true love’: it is self-sacrificial and always moves the one who loves to action that proves that love. 1st Corinthians 13, the ‘love chapter’ in the Bible gives us a picture of agape love, the kind of love God has toward us and has called us to have for one another. I love what Rick Renner, author of Sparkling Gems from the Greek wrote regarding the meaning of agape:
‘Agape occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this object or person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. Such great respect is awakened in the heart of the observer for the object or person he is beholding that he is compelled to love it. In fact, his love for that person or object is so strong that it is irresistible. Agape love knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient. It will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes. It is the highest form of love…self-sacrificial that moves the lover to action. Not self-seeking; looks not at how much it can get, but for what it can give. Compelled to love, regardless of the response of the recipient.”
Were you convicted as you read that definition? I sure was! And I thought of how many times I have not demonstrated ‘true love’ for my husband. I realized that it is often how I respond to the ‘small’ things’ that reveals the true condition of my heart and whether I am self-demanding or self-sacrificial, whether I love myself— or him— more.
As I meditated on agape love, the following came to my mind as ways we can demonstrate love for our husbands in the ‘everyday’ situations of life:
- Cheerfully, without quarreling, and without delay do what your husband asks you to do. Don’t roll your eyes, sigh, or in other ways verbally or non-verbally indicate a lack of willingness to comply with his request. Instead, smile and have an, ‘as you wish’ attitude as you cheerfully submit to his request. If your husband has shared with you something he’d like you to do and you haven’t yet done it, ‘Just do it!’ For example, my husband appreciates it when I ‘unclutter’ my side of the bathroom. That’s not a priority for me, but I have learned (it’s taken 34 years, but it’s finally sunk in!) that my cleaning up is a small but important way I can show my husband that what is important to him is important to me.
- Seek his blessing regarding doing something that’s important to you. This may sound old-fashioned and ‘modern-day’ women may balk, but this is essential if you desire a harmonious, joyous marriage. Soliciting your husband’s approval for something you want to do demonstrates love and respect for him. In contrast, if you just go ahead and do what you want to do— or insist on doing something despite your husbands’ objections—it communicates that you do not value your husband’s viewpoint or your respect for his God-given role as the head of your household. For example, if you want to go to the movie with your friends, ask your husband if it’s all right with him if you go rather than telling him you’re going out.
- Express an interest in your husband’s interests and activities, whether it be his job, hobbies or his dreams. Listen with your heart as well as with your ears to what he says. Ask your husband’s viewpoint about something that’s important to you and really listen to his response. Make sure if he gives you an opinion that’s contrary to yours that you don’t belittle him and tell him all of the reasons why he’s wrong. Seek to hear ‘his heart’ and the ‘whys’ of what he believes; be intentional about affirming him. If you disagree about something, seek to find a place of agreement. At all times remember it’s more important to be in ‘right relationship’ than it is to ‘be right’.
- Take the initiative to do those things that you know your husband appreciates without him asking you to do them. For instance, I know that my husband appreciates it when I make his favorite meal or give him a back or foot massage; those are just a couple simple ways for me to demonstrate that I treasure him. You know your husband best and what would be the very thing that might please him.
The little things we do on an everyday basis may seem insignificant, but they can have an enormous impact in communicating that we love, respect and cherish our husbands. That is not only what we are called to do, but also a joy to do when we love. It also cultivates the soil in which ‘true love’ will grow and flourish.
Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of a way that you can demonstrate respect— agape love— for your husband?
Written by Julie Van Gorp