Monday, September 12, 2016

Honor in Marriage (Part 3)

I’m struggling to write this week’s marriage blog because I don’t want to sound judgey when I say what I feel like the Lord has put on my heart.

So, hear me reader—I’m not being judgey. I hope to speak truth in love! We have posted before about honor in marriage—both honoring husbands and honoring wives. This post is related; we want to talk about honoring our spouse in public. 

A few weeks ago, Howell and I were talking with a woman and her husband, both of whom we don’t know very well. They’re perhaps an acquaintance at best.

Within two minutes of the conversation, the woman had managed to make fun of her husband’s intelligence and some other lacking characteristic—and I was done chatting.

I asked Howell later if it was just me or if he had noticed, and he had. His first response was, “I feel sorry for that guy.”

When women put their husbands down publicly, I am turned off immediately. Every time it happens, I cringe a little. It feels uncomfortable. I’m not going to laugh, so now there’s this awkward silence. The husband shrinks a little, if he’s present, and no one quite knows where to go from there.

Somehow the practice of making fun of or putting down our spouse has become common, even in Christian circles.

As wives, we play a powerful role in honoring and esteeming our husbands.
I’ve been thinking about the Proverbs 31 woman (for a great post on this passage from a dear friend, read here). We know a few things about this woman’s marriage:

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life” (v. 11-12).

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” (v 28-29).

And we know from v. 23 that “her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” He has an honorable reputation, and she becomes a famous figure: she is, to us, the epitome of a wife—who works with her hands and provides for her home; who creates and makes and cares for her household, her children, and her husband; and who is praised and beloved for all that she does.

I think there’s a connection here. She does her husband good all the days of his life. He praises her. And both of them are recorded in the Bible with an esteemed reputation. Look at how they’ve honored each other!

When we honor and praise our spouse, we affect the reputation they have; we can affect how others see them.

I’m not saying that we can’t be sarcastic or give our spouses a hard time. Certainly Howell and I do this to each other regularly, and we’re both good natured about it. But it has to be in the right context—with close friends or family, people we trust who know our heart and who know each of our character.

And even in those spaces, we’ve always been careful not to correct each other. This was a particular pet peeve of Howell’s, and when we first got married, he asked me seriously if I would agree to not correct him in front of others. If he did something wrong or if he mis-remembered an event or if he said the wrong thing, he asked that I would tell him privately, but not publicly.

There are so few things he’s ever asked me to do, and I’ve taken that one seriously for over eight years.

Public spaces are not places to correct, condemn, or cut down our spouse.

I encourage you to guard your mouth and filter everything you say about your spouse to others.
If it’s not honoring, uplifting, or positive, then perhaps it doesn’t need to be shared.

I also encourage you to surround yourself with men and women who honor their spouse, who speak lovingly and positively about their spouse. I have many great women friends, and one of the things I love most about them all is the way they talk about their husbands.

I hope you hear my heart in this post. We’re certainly not perfect, but we are intentional with our words in this area. If you struggle with this, the best advice we can give is that practice makes perfect. :)

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