Recently, I’ve had many people praise me because of my children. Our children truly are wonderful and we’re extremely proud of them. But if our children are praiseworthy at all, I believe with all my heart that it has more to do with my husband than anything I’ve ever taught them. If our children love to serve each other, it’s because they watch their Daddy serve our family daily. If our children sit quietly in church it’s because they’ve watched their Daddy take spiritual things seriously and they imitate his example. If our children get excited about giving to others, it’s because they’ve watched their daddy sacrifice his own desires daily to serve and give to other people, especially his family.
Years ago, my husband read a book entitled The Sacred Marriage. In it, the author asks the question “What if God designed marriage to make us holy, more than to make us happy?” My husband took these words to heart and has been living by them ever since. That isn’t to say that our marriage doesn’t make him happy (I hope that it does!) but there was certainly a time when it didn’t, and my husband had a choice ahead of him. He could leave his marriage, or he could choose to live his life in the pursuit of Godliness rather than happiness. When he could have left (and I would have made it easy for him), he chose to stay. He chose to see our family as his most important ministry opportunity. He chose to see our home as his mission field. And he still does to this day. My husband constantly and consistently puts aside his own desires daily to minister to needs of others.
My husband cleans, he cooks, he changes diapers. He spends time with us, listens to us, and puts our needs first. He is slow to anger, quick to praise, and willing to listen. He understands that he doesn’t have to understand me. When something is important to me, he makes it important to him. He rises above his own desires and does the things he doesn’t want to do because he knows it will be a blessing to me. And although I am supposed to be his “help mate,” he makes himself my helper over and over again. Last week, when the ice storm hit, he came home before the rest of us to clean the house just so I wouldn’t have to come home to a mess. This week, when we filed our taxes, he refused to use the money to buy himself something he’s been wanting so that he could buy something for me. He once took a four hour car trip to pick up a cat I wanted to adopt and spent more than a year taking care of stray dogs because I wanted to run a rescue (this is a man who does not like animals.) He does the things that I ask him to do whenever it is in his power to do so, even when they don’t make any sense to him. He will willingly move dresser for me 15 times, until I have found the “perfect” spot for it (“Just a little to the right. Now a tiny bit to the left. You know, I don’t think I like it there… can we move the bed and see where it looks like along that wall?”)
Despite his sacrifices on my behalf, he is not a weak man. He is undoubtedly the leader of our home. He is strong, willful, and steady. He knows when to tell me “no,” and isn’t afraid to do so. But more often than not, he chooses to sacrifice himself in order to bless me. He doesn’t spend his time seeking his own comfort, but willingly inconveniences himself in order to bless those around him. Above all, he uses his position as the head and leader of our family to be “servant of all.” He knows that a good leader is “someone who is not afraid to submit willingly on behalf of others.”
My husband has studied the art of marriage, and I mean that quite literally. During the first year of our life together, he bought every Christian marriage book he could get his hands on, and he read them all. Love Life for Every Married Couple, The Five Love Languages, The Sacred Marriage, Every Man’s Marriage, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women… I could go on and on. He not only read them, but put them into practice. He determined then to be the best husband and father that he could possibly be, and has succeeded immeasurably.
I mean it sincerely when I say that I am the woman I am today because of the man my husband has been to me. When my husband married me, he had no idea what he was getting in to. During our first year of marriage, he often told me that he felt he had fallen in love with one woman, only to marry another. I was moody, angry, discontent, and had fallen away from God. Trust me when I say that my husband was the only one working on our marriage. But my husband refused to give up on me. He chose to love me, even when I was unlovable, and did everything in his power to communicate that love to me. It was nearly three years before I really began to come around, but my husband never gave up on me. I’ve asked him before… how did he stick with me all those years? How did he keep from becoming bitter? He responded by telling me that he refused to focus on my flaws. “It does absolutely no good to dwell on that stuff. I can’t change you, and thinking about how bad you are isn’t going to help you become better. That’s just giving an ear to Satan and I refuse to do it.” And he doesn’t.
His example has done more to show me the love of God than any book I’ve ever read, or any sermon I’ve ever heard. Because of him, I’ve learned to trust God more fully, and was eventually able to give Him (and my husband!) my heart. We have five amazing children thanks to his Godly example, and we have grown closer than I ever thought possible.