Thursday, April 11, 2013

tender thoughts, tender actions

Believe it or not, marriage isn't all fun and games.  Nor is it a state of permanent "wedded bliss."  Now don't get me wrong - our wedding day was the greatest day of my life.  Surrounded by friends and family, showered with love and eagerly anticipating the start to a new life of permanent togetherness... June 16th was everything I had imagined it would be, and more. 

But here's the thing - June 16th doesn't last forever.  June 17th must eventually arrive, and June 18th, and next thing you know you've been married for ten months and that precious wedding day feels like forever ago. 
Steve and I have not had what most people would call the "typical newlywed phase."  For one reason or another, we have been launched straight into the craziness of married life and sometimes I feel like I barely have a moment to simply take a breath.  Marriage requires work.  And time.  And learning to speak each other's love language.  Sometimes it is not easy.  Sometimes it is just plain hard.  In a marriage, you see all sides of your spouse - the greatest things about them, and the not-so-great things.  And let me tell ya, sometimes it is difficult to see the good traits when you feel bogged down by the bad.  After all, when you married your husband, he was perfect, right?  So where did all of these "bad" traits come from? ;) 
God calls us to love our husbands.  More than that, he calls us to tenderly love our husbands.  In Titus, Paul writes that older women should teach younger women to love their husbands.  He uses the Greek word "phileo," which is a tender, affectionate love.  Phileo love is a love between best friends.  It is delighting to be in the presence of one another and having fondness for one another.  And God specifically calls us wives to show phileo love toward our husbands.  Sometimes easier said than done, right?  How can I show tender love to my husband when he has just disappointed me by doing  x, y, or z?  How can I act in an affectionate manner towards him when I am still hung up on how he didn't live up to my expectations in such-and-such way? 

Tender thoughts lead to tender actions.  Seriously.  We women are creatures easily influenced by our own minds.  When we decide to think about nothing but the ways in which our spouse has hurt, disappointed or failed us, we feel sorry for ourselves and act out against them.  We may still do the dishes and plan date nights, but we withdraw affection and lose that delight we once had in our spouse.  But if you think about the ways in which your husband has loved and cared for you over time, and remind yourself of all the great things about him that made you fall in love with him in the first place, you can't help but love him back. 

We are called to act tenderly toward our husbands.  Tender thoughts lead to tender actions.  May I strive to always think tender thoughts about my husband, so as to cultivate, keep and cherish that tender phileo love with my best friend.

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