Last night we finally finished our 'Love and Respect' study with our small group. We have been reading through a chapter or so each week so it's taken a while! This book has some great information and really offers a different way of thinking about the ways we interact with our spouse. Recognising the motivation that love can be to a woman and that respect can be to a man is important. While there are certainly some absolutes in this book that I do not fully buy into, the general idea fits us well.
I truly appreciate the conversations that this book has resulted in for us, and I love that they happened early on our marriage journey. I think that these lessons will continue to shape our marriage and be good reminders of what might be behind comments or actions that we are frustrated by in the other person.
The book includes practical steps to take to show your spouse love and respect which of course are handy (to say the least!) but the final chapter was my favourite. It began to talk about how our actions are at their core towards God. We don't (just) have to respect our husbands because they are our husbands, but we should love them because they are loved by Christ.
When I get to heaven, I want God to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." A huge part of that will be about how well I have loved and respected the people God brought into my path, especially my husband. I want my love for Christ to be the motivation and the source for loving my husband. I am called to love him even if he is being a jerk. My actions are my responsibility. Now, I am not saying stay in an abusive marriage please don't hear that, that is a totally different situation. For most of us our humanity just gets the best of us sometimes, we can be short tempered, impatient and we do not always make loving or respectful comments. In the moments when we are on the receiving end we can chose to react and make a situation explosive, or we can chose to show love and respect by recognising that our spouse is not acting from the best place. We can walk away, or calmly ask what is really going on. We can chose not to be offended but understand where an action comes from.
We are not always the best versions of ourselves, but 'our response is always our responsibility'(Eggerichs). If we respond in anger, or say something spiteful back we have now committed a sin too. As most of us know firsthand, this never ends well. We are trying to make sure that we take a moment in the times when we are feeling unloved or disrespected to make a good choice to show love and respect back. It's a work in progress but I am excited to have the tools.
I am sure that adding a baby into the mix will certainly not be lessening the load on our marriage so it feels good to have had time to practice some of these things when we are still getting to sleep through the night!
There are times when J and I are goofing around and laughing uncontrollably about something dumb that I just look over at him and cannot believe I got so lucky. Marriage is hard work at times but it is so worth it. I am truly getting excited for this new season of marriage ahead. I know that it will be a challenge, and I think that we have had some grieving that life as we know it is changing, but I think we both trust that what's ahead will be truly worth it too :)