The book had some great ideas about what men in general want or need and practical ways to meet their needs. However, over all I didn’t like the book; in fact, it made me feel a little ill. The book was filled with statements like, “If you want your husband to be or do x, y and z, then be or do a, b and c.” Thus the whole reason for me to be a good wife, apparently, is for me to turn my husband into the man I want. I just want to yell, “FALSE!” This bothers me to the core, because I am a selfish person. Selfishness comes naturally. I don’t need to read a book to tell me how to be more sweetly selfish. The whole premise, though this is a “Christian” book filled with Bible references, is how to behave to get what I want. My motivation should be first of all to do what pleases God.
As a Christian wife, my number one need is to glorify my Savior. That is what I was created for. I will not find joy in marriage if God is not the center and if my motivation is primarily to get what I want, even though I am doing “good” things. Being or doing all the things my husband wants so that he will do what I want is just selfishness and will never bring me closer to God, no matter how pretty it looks on the outside.
In the beginning of our marriage I spent several years pursuing this exact mentality. Guess what? It didn’t work. My husband grew up with several women who enjoyed doting on him. This probably has a lot to do with his mother dying when he was young. At his grandparents’ house one time, his grandmother asked him if he would like a drink. He replied in the affirmative and kept doing what he was doing. I was shocked. “It’s obvious she is tired. Why didn’t you offer to get up and get your own drink?” I asked him.
He looked at me kind of surprised, “But she ENJOYS getting things for me,” was his completely honest reply. And she did enjoy getting and doing things for him. It took me a while to realize that if my husband is happy, he thinks I am happy. If I am not complaining loudly or pitching a downright fit, and he is content with the way things are, then he just naturally thinks I am as happy as he is! Believe me, no long list of doing good on my part is going to motivate him do some of the things I wish he would do. It just wouldn’t occur to him. I cannot change him!
So what has this taught me? My motivation in doing good things for my husband needs to be to please and honor God. If that is my focus, then I am not doing those good things selfishly, and they will have an eternal reward whether or not my husband ever endeavors to do the same for me. To me that is so exciting because even though I have a husband who is pursuing godliness there will always be times when we disagree or he goes his own way. I can trust God. His Words are true. He does not break His promises. The books I read need to point me to Him and remind me of those reasons why obeying God is right, obeying God isn’t futile, obeying God brings real joy and eternal reward. With this perspective, I am refueled to respect and follow my husband for God’s glory!
I need those reminders and exhortations because every day I struggle with selfishness when I am supposed to be putting others first. I want my way. I want things done my way. I think my way is best. But getting the things I think I want selfishly will never bring the lasting joy that can only be found in honoring and glorifying God. (Of course I should still tell him my needs and wants.) This is not only true for women, by the way. For a man to selfishly pursue changing his wife is equally wrong. Motivation matters!
(As always, posts about my husband are only published with his permission!)