Terms of endearment.
Tonight I began reading a book called Feminine Appeal (which sounds more like a Lifetime movie than a good read, but it’s worth checking out regardless of this…) and was immediately struck with an entirely new concept on love – specific to that of loving my husband.
In Feminine Appeal, author Carolyn Mahaney charges women to love their husbands by enjoying, respecting and spending time alongside them rather than simply “serving” them as their wife from day to day. Mahaney then begins to bulk up this challenge, quoting scripture from Titus 2 and clarifying that in his writings, the apostle Paul uses a very specific type of love to instruct women on how to teach other women to love their husbands. Further, this is the only type of love that Paul references – it is the “phileo” love. In the Greek language, this type of love is said to be one of close companionship, deep friendship & a “liking” for…
Husbands, on the other hand, are instructed to love their wives with an “agape” love. In the Greek, “agape” is used to describe a sacrificial, servant type of love.
Mahaney then pushed further, asking if perhaps the reason for this is that it goes against our very nature as men and women to exhibit these particular types of love naturally to our spouses.
[Insert screeching brakes sound effect here.]
I had to call Jason in at this point and read to him aloud – it was as if a lightbulb was burning over my head. Eureka!
Guilty, guilty, guilty. I am waving my hands in the air right now. How many times have I scurried around, trying to get things done on the to-do list for the day in order to best “help” and “serve” my husband or our marriage and in doing so, neglected to truly love or take joy in him or our time together? All the time! Ugh!
You may be thinking, “Ok, so what? You’re still doing good things and loving your husband, right?”
And here’s the rub. That’s true to an extent. However, when we find ourselves locked into a vicious cycle such as this, our laundry list continues to grow, we continue to stay busy and we begin to work to please our husbands (or I would argue, our own selfish desires to be noticed as “helpful” or “a good wife/mother/etc”) instead of working hard to love and serve God by glorifying Him and thus, taking joy in the gift of our husbands/marriages and in doing so, honoring our husbands and bringing them joy as well. Wow.
Of course this isn’t easy – and naturally life will bring a great number of overwhelming obstacles and tasks that must be accomplished. Further, there will be times that it feels like monumental effort to love in this way. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to love with close, deep affection. If we’re being honest, it’s often much easier for us as women to clean and cook and hurry around, wringing our hands in worry about all that must be done than it is to quiet our hearts and open them up with vulnerability to our husbands. Our spouses (both husbands and wives) are human and will undoubtedly hurt us and leave us to doubt them or the ability to feel secure in their love. Regardless of these feelings, it is still our responsibility to honor them with our actions and our words. (Ouch – that’s tough, right?) We must push through our insecurities and trust that God heals all scars from past, present and future emotional injuries in order to find the wellspring of joy that can come from true unconditional, forgiving love in marriage. (And from experience, I can tell you with exuberance- God can and he does!)
So, as this book challenged me tonight, I feel I must pass on the torch and challenge you – take the time to slow down and enjoy your marriage and find deep companionship and friendship in your husband, ladies.
And men, seek out your wives with gentle boldness – loving her in the “agape” love you are called to – sacrificial and selfless.
May all our marriages be fruitful and joy-filled as a result.
1st John 4:19 We love because he first loved us