Four Things a Husband Should Do for His Wife

Today Dan and I are celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary. Dan took a few days off of work, and, as I mentioned in the last post, we have a lot of fun planned. So, I’m not making any promises about when the next update will come. In the meantime, I’d like to celebrate this fourth anniversary by sharing four things my husband does for me, four things every husband should do for his wife.

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He loves me.

I have a problem. We call it the “goldfish syndrome” and I’ve read enough marriage books to know I’m not the only wife who has it. No matter how creatively, lavishly, romantically, or frequently Dan tells me he loves me, I forget.

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It’s not always that I forget. The problem is really that I stop feeling loved and so I start to believe I’m not. Or sometimes I know that Dan loved me…at one time, but what if it changed? What if he stopped? So Dan has his work set out, but he is constantly, faithfully, patiently reminding me of his love for me.

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He leads me.

I really enjoy having Dan as a leader in our home. It has become my second nature to ask his opinion on everything. Picking out fabric for Abby’s quilt? I asked Dan’s opinion. (He picked out the backing) Trying to figure out a new schedule? Ask Dan. Feeling like I’m doing a bad job at keeping a home and raising the girls? Go to Dan and get some input.

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But it’s not just when I ask that Dan leads. He leads us in so many areas of our lives.

Spiritually – he reads the Bible to us after our meals and prays with me every night before we go to sleep
Financially – he earns us a living even on days when he would rather do anything but go to work
Emotionally – he holds it together when everything else seems to be falling apart
Decision Making – he always gets the final say, although he appreciates my input, he’s not afraid to make the call
As a Dad – Dan doesn’t just leave me to raise our kiddos. Even when they are less than four pounds and growing in an isolette in the NICU, Dan is a present and loving father (and a really good one too)

There are so many ways Dan is a leader in our home, I couldn’t list them all if I tried.

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He helps me.

Maybe if I was perfect I could do it all. Manage and keep a beautiful home (all the time). Teach and train the girls. Feed and diaper the baby. Clean and fold laundry. Plan and cook meals. Keep track of our budget and all our finances. Correspond with friends and relatives. Plan doctor visits, vacations, and dates. Exercise and get plenty of rest. Even while kids are sick, babies aren’t sleeping, and we live in transitional sorts of places.

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Since I’m not perfect, I can’t do it all by myself, and even when I seem to be accomplishing a lot, I’m known to have occasional break downs. But Dan doesn’t expect me to be perfect or self-sustaining. He helps me do my job as I help him do his. We’re spouses, but we’re also partners, teammates, and friends.

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He spurs me on.

Dan and I first started talking at a time when I was discouraged and far from home, but learning good things from God. He started emailing me once in a while to encourage me, pray for me, and ask what God was doing in my life. My God’s grace, Jesus has stayed the center of our relationship through all of the transitions and changes over the past four (plus!) years. Dan is the one I go to first with my Bible questions, thoughts, and troubles. We pray together and seek God together. He’s my husband, and he’s my leader. He’s my helper and my friend, but he’s also my brother in Christ and always will be.

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The Perfect Wedding Cake

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When Dan and I started planning our wedding, we had no idea what we wanted for a wedding cake. A friend of ours had experience at making cakes and was eager to help us with ours. So, we scheduled a meeting. The four of us all sat down together: my Mom, Dan, the cake-maker, and myself. As we began talking we realized we didn’t really have any idea what we wanted.

“It should be white.”

“Should there be some purple in it?”

“I like ribbons…”

“Flowers are nice”

After only a few minutes we decided to reschedule another meeting after we had come to a more concrete idea of what we actually wanted. Weeks passed and we put very little thought into the cake. Our meeting arrived and we sat down and essentially designed our cake on the spot.

“White. With swirls, I like swirls on the sides.”

“How about some roses?”

“What flavor? What filling?”

In a very half-hazard way, we designed our cake. It was three tiers, all white with swirls on the sides and roses lining the edges. They were small at the top and grew larger at the bottom. There would be a raspberry filling in the middle because that’s what sounded good at the time (and it was conveniently close to purple).

The only part of the cake I was sure about was the cake topper. I had picked it out myself early in our engagement and everyone gave their approval. Apart from the topper, I had almost no idea if the cake would even look decent…or wedding-y.

I remember the first time I saw the cake. It was morning, and sky was perfectly clear as I walked through the parking lot and into the gym where are reception was going to be. It must have been the day of the wedding, so all the decorations were in place. The gym was a sea of white with purple accents and delicate white roses were scattered everywhere. In the middle of the gym was a round table, and there on a small platform, was our wedding cake.

It was perfect. I couldn’t have designed a better cake for our wedding and for us if I had actually known what I was doing. The cake was simple, beautiful, elegant, and it even tasted delicious.

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Sometimes our marriage feels a lot like our wedding cake. Dan and I each came into it with our own ideas of what it should look like. We had plans that failed, expectations that have never been fulfilled. There were probably only two major things I was sure of when we got married:

1) Dan was the man I wanted to marry.

2) Jesus was the center of our relationship and we wanted Him to stay there.

I guess Jesus is a bit like our cake topper. He stays, but anything else can change (and most other things have changed). Marriage has held so much that we never expected. School changes. Job changes. Babies…early babies! Those crazy newborn months. And housing changes (and more and more housing changes). Sometimes our whole lives feel a bit disorganized. Sometimes they feel chaotic or downright out of control. But ultimately, Jesus is at the center of our marriage, and God is the one creating and perfecting our story. God is our marriage “cake-maker”.

Often we just see the messy cake-making process. But sometimes we get a little glimpse into the beauty that God is perfecting. This Thursday Dan and I will celebrate four years of marriage. Four years of chaos and four years of trusting Jesus.

We’re going to celebrate by having an extended weekend packed full of fun and friends and a nice, long date. So there will be updates and pictures and lots of sharing up ahead, but for now I’m just reflecting on the goodness of our God and the sweet results a marriage receives when Jesus is at the center.

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This is Love

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A few nights ago I was up at three in the morning with Abby. Dan had taken a few days off of work when Abby came home but he went back on Thursday and Friday, and he had asked me to start taking over all of the night time feedings, which was what both of us had planned on happening all along.

But I was so tired. As I sat in the glider with Abby my mind drifted off to all of the couples I have seen lately who have recently become engaged, or married, or celebrated their first wedding anniversaries. According to their Facebook pages their days and nights have been quite full with a lot of dates, love letters, flowers, and special time together.

My mind drifted through Dan and my own early days of marriage, then fast-forwarded to the past few months. We spent almost three long months with Abby in the hospital. At times, it felt like one long nightmare. Three emotional, exhausting, painful, long months. There wasn’t time, energy, or money for flowers or chocolate or date nights. We didn’t even have a free moment to just sit together on our couch.

And now Abby is home. Things are happier and much less crazy. Our house is cleaner than it has been since we moved in. But things are still busy, as any mother of two or more would surely understand. And once again there has been no time, money, or energy for date nights or flowers or love letters…you get the idea.

So as I sat there with Abby, so tired, thinking about all these latest events in my life and others, I was struggling to have a good attitude. I began to pray.

God reminded me of the reasons I married Dan. And I remembered my first joy I at being the one who gets to serve him for the rest of his life. I remembered how Eve was created to be Adam’s helper, and how that’s my main job today. And then God brought to mind a passage from Philippians:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

It occurred to me then, that this is true love. It isn’t always happy, or easy, or pretty. This is how Jesus loved us. He humbled himself, came to earth, suffered, was rejected, and died. If this is God’s great example of love, then I can follow His example in how I love Dan. So even when there’s no money for flowers, no time for date nights, and no energy to stay up a few minutes longer together and talk at night, I can still love Dan like Jesus did.

During the late nights, the hard work, and the times apart I can still demonstrate real love to Dan.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the other stuff.

I know it’s an old lesson, and I’ll probably need to learn it again. But it was a good one I thought worth sharing. I made it through the three AM feeding with a song in my heart and a smile (a sleepy smile, that is) on my face. And a couple of nights later the girls were asleep and Dan and I, for the first time in a long time, had the time and energy to sit together on our couch chatting and looking at the lights on our newly decorated Christmas tree.