Six months into the marriage, and I’m constantly learning! Here are a few thoughts I’ve had recently about how I can be the best wife I can be. What principles can we put in place to help our marriage thrive?
Today marks 6 months of married life for Julian and me! In December I became the wife of the most incredible man I know. He is loving, kind, and encouraging. He works hard and genuinely wants the best for me and makes me feel loved beyond measure each day. I love every moment I spend with him. I want to ensure that I am the best possible wife I can be, to make our marriage the best possible marriage there can be! If there is one thing I have learnt about myself, it is that I need to be intentional about developing my character and habits! The only person I can actually change and make decisions for is me.
A well known saying about marriage is ‘happy wife, happy life’, but I would respectfully question why it should be Julian’s responsibility to ensure my happiness and contribution to our family. This saying allows women to abdicate responsibility for themselves. Marriage is a partnership, it is not a one-sided relationship! So, at the start of my marriage, here are a few principles I have developed from the Bible that are not always easy, and I already (six months in!) struggle with sometimes, but I want to pledge to press into for the rest of my life.
The only person I can actually change and make decisions for is me.
Jesus at the Centre
‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’
– Matthew 6:33
At the centre of our marriage, we need to have Jesus. A few weeks ago I was at work and began to chat with an elderly gentleman about marriage, as he heard that I was recently married. He told me that he and his wife had been married for 52 years! I asked him what his secret was to a long and happy marriage, and he said this: ‘Marriage is not always easy, and there will be good times and bad, but the one thing we have always done and is THE most important thing for a marriage, is to keep Jesus at the centre. We are not two people in our marriage, but three.’ These words are utterly profound.
We should seek first Jesus in all aspects of our lives, and this is true of marriage! That man’s words have challenged me deeply, I want to keep Jesus at the centre of our marriage, by seeking first his will for us both and our lives. I want to pursue his kingdom, live a missional life together and seek righteousness in everything we do. We will get it wrong at times, but we are living for Jesus.
‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.’
– Ephesians 5:22
This is perhaps one of the most controversial verses about the roles within marriage and is one which has historically been warped, and in recent times rejected. It is an uncomfortable and emotive language for many. Yet, if I believe that the Bible is true and that God has my best interests at heart, submitting to Julian is something I must take seriously, and even more so as it is compared with how I submit to Christ.
This does not mean always agreeing with Julian, it does not mean I am subservient or of less value than him. It does not mean that my opinion is of less value or that my purpose in life is only to meet Julian’s needs and wants. I actually believe that this verse, when reading in its context, is all about empowerment! The verse before this one reads ‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ’. Submission is something that every person in a household is instructed to submit, it is mutual, and a choice. It means that I allow Julian to lead our family, and in everything consider his best interests, as our entire household learns to submit to each other.
Therefore, I choose to submit to Julian.
‘The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down’
– Proverbs 14:1
Recently, I have been realising the sheer importance of home, and the importance of building one’s house. It may seem an archaic idea that as a wife I am a homemaker, but the Bible is clear that it is important to build the home, not tear it down. In our culture, this is now often a shared responsibility due to both the husband and wife working, but I should be making Julian’s life easier, and support him. It is about sharing the load, not simply fitting into stereotypes. This is what it means to build a house.
I want to be a wife who builds towards the legacy of our marriage. Therefore, I want to invest in our family, raise children to the best of my ability when that time comes and manage our finances and belongings well. This is not a pressure which is only the wife’s to bear, but I can do my best to do this, and I believe wholeheartedly that this is Julian’s intention also.
‘And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.’
If we are commanded to pray for each other, how much more should we be praying for our spouse and family? Julian confides in me when he is finding something challenging or when he feeling stressed. He confides in me about his hopes and dreams for the future. Therefore, I am the person who knows him most intimately and can pray very specifically for him and his needs. Even when I am frustrated with Julian (which does happen occasionally) prayer softens my heart towards him again, and often highlights to me the issues in my own thinking. I want to pledge to be the best praying wife I can be. I want to do my best to constantly pray for Julian and his interests.
‘She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.’
The Bible describes the virtues of a good wife as more than a pretty face, she is intelligent, wise and business-minded! I want to continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge, and be an asset to ‘Team Eagle’ (our affectionate name for our marriage). This might look different in different seasons of life, but I can choose to continually learn and work hard.
This is secondary to my submission to God and to Julian, and to placing our home first, but it is nonetheless important. It is not about striving to the detriment of all else, but of growing in my ability to support our family.
Image Credits: Photo by Brown Bear Photography
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What Libby doesn’t say is that all of this comes from her deep values and desire to be effective both at home and in the work before her not because she is squeezed into a mould. She is formidable, strong and gracious in so many areas that make our marriage a true partnership. Loving it and loving her.