Especially to MEN: Marriage after 20+ years

I feel loved! Fully, completely, extravagantly.

What does a wife need to feel completely loved?

Not only do I feel loved by God, which is the most fundamental love, without which we cannot feel whole. But I also feel my whole person is loved by another person – which gives me a sense of warmth and safety I have rarely experienced.

I have composed this post out of a sense of delight. But also, I share it with the public and target men in particular, because I think that many husbands and wives find it difficult to connect on an emotional level. I write this message hoping it will enable a deeper understanding of what a wife needs from her husband if she is to feel completely loved.

After over 20 years of marriage, I feel I am not alone in the deepest part of myself. I feel understood, accepted, embraced,  respected by my husband. After 21 years of marriage, I feel like we are finally ‘one flesh’. In both the physical sense and the spiritual, this ‘one flesh’ was established years ago. But today my husband and I are connected, more-so than ever before, on a deep emotional level too.

It has taken a long time, and has been a river filled with challenge, perseverance, misunderstanding and endless effort for both of us.

Today, all our efforts have culminated in a deep connectedness. The result for me is that I feel like I can cope with anything, and with a joyful assurance that I don’t have to cope on my own. Oh, I am still my own person, alone with my hopes and dreams, and the mundane responsibilities of life. But I am experiencing something new. My emotions and thoughts are completely appreciated, and that is heart-warming.

Life is a journey. The Christian life is a challenge. The married life is like riding in a boat over immense and varied seas.

For the first time in my marriage, I really feel as though we’re in the same boat, my husband and I… It is a small yacht that navigates the strong gales and drifts in the stillness, even as the tide and wind affect the movement of the waves.

This is because I am ‘seen’ now. He sees me, I do not hide, and I am not ashamed. Perhaps this is my new definition of marriage: to be seen by another and not to be ashamed of anything.

As man and wife, isn’t it total intimacy – without fear or shame – that we long for in our union, each of us transparent and vulnerable to the other, totally understood and accepted. Today, I believe I have experienced this intimacy. It is God’s perfect marriage plan.

Likewise, we who are the Bride of Christ are meant to experience this intimacy and freedom with God. As sons of Adam, that is who we would have been had he not sinned and learned shame.

So, to those who are married: well done. May we keep striving for the best that’s meant to be, because marriage is worth navigating even through the rough seas.

And also a note to the singles, be you single still or once again: may you be encouraged. God knows the best way for us to discover Him.

All of life requires effort, and the reward of intimacy is not easily achieved. Love is found in Father God. For some, it is also experienced through life with a spouse. But God’s plan for our lives is to draw us close to Him, as His bride. He knows the perfect navigation for each of his children to reach this intimacy. We can all find rest and His perfect peace that passes all understanding, knowing He leads us where we need to deepen our discovery of Him.

His love will never let us go.

What a lovely way to start the New Year.

Best to all for 2015.

Helpmeet – husbands and wives helping each other

Is it only that wives are meant to help their husbands? Are men called to help their wives?

It isn’t commonly viewed as scriptural, but I believe husbands need to be a helper to wives just as wives are called to help their husbands, if we are all to fulfill our callings and to experience personal fulfillment too.

In the 21st century, while there is still evidence of chauvinism, it is pretty much established to be socially incorrect to be so. Whether it’s women putting down men for not being sensible about child care, or men putting down women for shortcomings, it is taboo to do so in most Western circles today.

Scripture is relatively clear on this when it comes to marriage and sums up the spousal relationship this way:

‘Men love your wives, wives submit to (or respect) your husbands.’

The full version is found in Ephesians 5:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord doesthe church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Now you can identify many ways that a man can love his wife. I believe being a helper to her is one of them.

Now the help meet/help mate/helper part comes from Genesis 2:

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Whatever translation you choose to enjoy, what I want to draw attention to is that men need to be helpful in order to achieve all God has them to do. And so do women.

Both spousal partners need to know they are loved and respected by the other. Sometimes the LORD God calls us into the unknown, and the only support we have is from our spouse; sometimes, simply showing faith in our spouses is incredibly helpful to them and it’s what they need in order to accomplish God’s calling. Sometimes our spouse is the sincere friend who tells us like it is, or encourages us when we feel defeated. Always, we need to be able to rely on the love and support of our spouse. For, when that is in tact, we can feel the confidence to move the mountains the LORD allows in order to grow our character and to fulfill His calling.

Fulfilling the call of God is a challenge that invigorates, inspires, nourishes and engages us in life; a sense of purpose gives us the perseverance to carry on through the difficult times in life. But the love of the one nearest to us gives us the courage and hope to persevere, even when all else fails. Each of us has a call in this life. We who are married need to help the spouse we’ve chosen to fulfill his/her call just as much as he/she needs to help us to fulfill ours.

Alan and ISo, I ask you and I ask myself: Am I being a helper to my spouse? And, am I open to receive help when it is offered?

Grace to give and to receive is valuable – and to be valued. Love and grace are closely linked. So let us love one another and be gracious, helpful and kind, so that in all things we mirror the love God has shown us, so that the world will see our love and God will be glorified.

Grace and peace to you in your life, marriage and all relationships.