I don’t have to love my husband?

This post is the first of a series about our experience in pre-marital counseling. We’ve learned that you need to plan for the marriage at least as much as you plan for the wedding, and in this series we will explore what that means. You can read the introduction here.

The Bible never tells me to love my husband.

This was shocking the first time I discovered it in my counseling homework. I’m not commanded to LOVE him– how does that make sense? He’s commanded to love me.

Well, what am I commanded to do? Respect him. Respect him? That’s dumb. I do that all the time… Wait. Don’t I?

The Bible doesn’t command me to love my husband, because I already do that naturally. In the same way, Brian is never commanded to respect me, as he already does that naturally. These are the languages through which we instinctively speak to one another. We’re made that way. Thus, we are commanded to do that thing that isn’t the most natural for us, but speaks more effectively to the other.

Turns out, I didn’t respect Brian all the time. I thought respect and love went hand-in-hand and that I must already be doing that. I was wrong.

I read several chapters about how men speak a language of respect to each other. It begins when they’re very young. And there are ways that women speak to men that men would NEVER try with each other– it would break that respect. I also learned that women who work with children all the time are a tad more prone to this disrespect.

For example, I tell children what to do all day long. It’s my job. Raise your hand. Stop running. Turn in your homework. Do this. Don’t do that. I would hang out with Brian and keep spouting orders. I didn’t think anything of it and I definitely didn’t mean to be ordering my fiance (at the time) around.

During the counseling, Brian and I were able to talk about this and he brought it to light for me. I am not the boss of him– if I want him to do something, I need to ask him, respecting that he has a life and a job and things to do as well. When I leave a TO DO post-it note, I’m ordering. When I take the time to say, “Hey babe. If you have a chance today, could you please take care of this for me? I’d really appreciate it…” I’m asking. And as you’ve read, my man loves to take care of me– so, of course he’ll respond to the latter.

There are lots of ways to demonstrate respect to my husband: supporting him as the leader in our marriage, submitting when needed, treating him as my partner and not as a child, encouraging him in his ventures (like the boat trip), taking an active interest in his activities, understanding the importance of our sexual relationship. But simply asking for assistance when needed as opposed to ordering it has made the biggest impact so far. Stuff gets done. And it gets done without nagging, strife, or conflict (for the most part).

I’m still struggling with it and I’ve messed up a bunch. Saturday’s post was all about my struggles with communication with Brian. I thought I was respecting, but in reality, I was just not communicating effectively at all. It’s a work in progress. I am still learning. But God was the one that told me to respect Brian, and He knows what that truly means. If I seek His meaning, and receive wise counsel from women that do it well– I’m pretty sure I’ll be headed in the right direction.