Sharing a drink with my friend, Brian Wright, at Taco Bell on Valentine’s Day 2005
(2 years before we had our first Valentine’s Day as an actual couple)
It’s Valentine’s day, so I feel it’s appropriate to take this time to say, I like my husband.
With our not quite normal life on the road, there are many times when Brian and I are together ALL. THE. TIME. A few weeks ago my mother-in-law even asked, “Don’t you two ever get sick of each other?” Um, yes. Yes, there are times when we both crave personal space and time alone. But for the most part we really do love spending time with each other and the abundance of family time is one of the things we love most about deputation.
I said before I’m not an overly emotional person. In our first years of marriage when Brian would know I was upset about something he would always ask, “You don’t like me right now do you?” I would answer with, “I love you” and he would fill in the blanks with, “But you don’t like me right now.”
In my mind I was supposed to love my husband. That’s what the Bible taught and that’s what people always said. But I was allowed to not always like him, wasn’t I? I mean nobody always likes their spouse.
There is a verse in the Bible where Paul tells the older women in the church to teach the younger women to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). It always seemed self-explanatory to me until I read a little deeper into it a few years ago.
In the Greek language there are different types of love. What I always assumed Paul meant here was to love my husband with agape love. That’s the self-sacrificing, I love you more than myself, kind of love that we always hear about with marriage. In reality Paul used the word phileo here. This type of love is a friendship love. Why would Paul, inspired by God, say to teach women friendship love?
Because, speaking as a woman, I know I can do sacrificial love.
I can do a whole lot for my husband—laundry (even fold it and put it away), clean up the house so it looks nice when he comes home, take care of the kids, cook his favourite meals and let him hold the remote or pick the restaurant!
I can do sacrificial love. . . all without actually liking my husband.
When I read Paul telling the women to teach this kind of friendship love it makes me believe I am not alone. In fact, the need for God to address it in His Word lets me know it is a weakness we might all struggle with. Maybe you don’t have a husband but you can see this in your relationship with a parent, close friend, or even your kids.
When it comes to phileo love, it involves our emotions. More importantly, it involves controlling our emotions. I would make the connection that controlling our emotions is tied very closing to controlling our thought life. And Paul has another great verse for that as well. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true. The truth is, I am a sinner just like Brian. Before I hold his sins against him, I need to remember that God doesn’t hold mine against me.
Instead of thinking of myself as a martyr by serving my husband even when I don’t “feel” like it, I have instead tried to learn to love him with a phileo love. It’s a love that is kind and attentive, not because it has to be, but because it wants to be. When I realize my emotions and thoughts are not going in the same direction as my self-sacrificing love, I can go through a list of questions in my mind: Am I focusing on what is true? Am I loving my current circumstances or spending my time dreaming of better? Am I loving the person I am committed to loving, or dreaming of a different scenario? Have I tried to see this situation from his point of view? The questions to ask yourself are personal to you, but chances are you know what they are.
It’s been about a year since I read this truth about the verse, and I would love to say I have learned my lesson. But there are still times Brian turns to me at the end of a long day and says, “You don’t like me right now do you?” The change is that I no longer take this as an opportunity to let him know what a saint I am for still sacrificially loving him. I now realize that it is proof that I am not making the effort and time to love my husband as a friend.
So today we will let that mother-in-law that thinks we are weird watch our two kids and I will go out on a date with the guy that I have been friends with for 10 years. We will probably just eat lunch, drink coffee/Dr. Pepper and laugh together. We will work at this thing we call our marriage because at the end of the day I want to be able to look over at him and say,
I like my husband.