e published an image of a quote on our social media not too long ago, and it struck me in just how profound it is. The quote, by D.L. Moody, is this:

“If I wanted to find out whether a man was a Christian, I wouldn’t go to his minister. I would go and ask his wife…if a man doesn’t treat his wife right, I don’t want to hear him talk about Christianity.”

I started to analyze myself through this lens…if I were to ask Jess how I was doing, what would she say? Where am I doing well? Where can I do better? What am I missing? What is she saying that I’m not hearing? After thinking on this for a while, the answer was plain–I’m too busy with getting things done and not busy enough actively pursuing my wife in meaningful ways.

As soon as I had that thought, my mind went right into saying, “but life has been busy…in the last four months, we’ve moved twice, I’ve started a new job in a new state, we’re still getting settled in a new house, and most of the stuff that helps me feel “normal” is still in various sorts of disarray…not to mention the global pandemic making everything more complicated and stressful.”

So what.

I struggle with unchecked boxes and uncompleted tasks. They make my world feel out of order. So I want to check off as many boxes as I can. But that’s no excuse for shirking my job to love my wife and place her needs above my own. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” So, as I chase the unchecked boxes, am I loving my wife, giving myself up for her, or am I putting my need-to-accomplish mentality above my responsibility to take care of her. In an instant, the answer was obvious. I was dropping the ball. Repeatedly.

Now, to be clear, Jess is far from needy, and she will be the first to encourage me to go do something I’d like to do. She doesn’t complain and is the most sacrificially loving wife a man could ask for. It’s a huge blessing to be married to her. But with that blessing comes the responsibility to make sure she’s not giving too much and feeling empty, and also the responsibility to make sure I’m meeting her needs for love, even as she fights to bury those needs so she can meet my needs.

Have you found yourself in a situation where you realized you were missing the mark? Most of us have, and ending up there isn’t a bad thing in itself, as long as you handle it well.

But what does it mean to handle it well?

  1. Apologize
  2. The first thing I did was to apologize for dropping the ball. If you’ve realized there’s an area where you’re not measuring up, an apology is a good place to start. A good format to use here is, “I’m sorry that I _______, will you forgive me?”

  3. Humility is Key
  4. To truly love our spouse how God calls us to, we need to be aware of ourselves, our patterns, and where we may need to correct. This requires a surrender of ourselves.

    While I may feel better by working every weekend and completing my task list, I know that that will hurt my marriage in the long run.

  5. Plan a change
  6. Apologies are good, but if that’s as far as you make it, you’re going to get a lot of practice apologizing and not make much progress. The next step is to plan a change so that you’re not continually making the same mistake. For me, I’m going to work on listening better when Jess suggests something fun to do, even if it might interfere with my checklist, and doing more of those things, even if it means a few boxes get left unchecked for another week.

  7. Work toward that change
  8. Take the next right step, then the next one after that. If you drop the ball again, it’s okay–just keep trying. One misstep doesn’t mean you’re a failure–we all make mistakes sometimes. Just apologize and move forward in the right direction!

  9. Give yourself grace in the process
  10. What it comes down to is that we need to keep moving forward toward loving our spouse how we are called to. We will mess up and drop the ball multiple times in this life…and that’s ok. The important thing is that we assess, realign our priorities, focus on Jesus, and recommit ourselves.

  11. Commitment is essential
  12. Commitment to our spouse and our marriage is not just a vow said when we get married, it is a daily perspective that must be put on.

Wherever you are in the process, keep your head up, keep God at the center, and never give up. Being perfect matters far less than taking the next right step.

How can you put your spouse first today?

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