I’ve often said that I am on the same journey of healing our marriage as many of you are. That doesn’t mean that I like coming face-to-face with things I still need to work on.
But that’s exactly what happened today.
I’ve been praying for God to show me where I needed to grow as a wife. I confess it was a half-hearted prayer. My prideful self thought that I had all this wife stuff figured out. I was praying it just for show—which is absolutely ridiculous. Who did I think I was fooling? Certainly not God—who gave me exactly what I asked for despite the fact that I didn’t think I needed it.
We have our 25th anniversary coming up, and I’d thought it would be nice to make a list of 25 things I love about Big Guy. Rather than just make a list from memory, I decided to actively pay attention for a few weeks.
My list has been taking shape. Big Guy knows my favorite cookie and brings it home for me from the grocery store some times. He cleans the hair out of the bathtub drain because it makes me gag. He reads my blog posts and says nice things to me about them.
This morning I posted this on Instagram. It’s an image that shows me several things I can put on my list.
The caption reads:
This cup has so much love in it. Every night, Big Guy prepares the coffee and programs it for the morning. When he leaves in the morning, he sets the coffee maker to stay hot until I wake up. He got me this cup for Valentine’s Day because he wants me to start my day knowing how beautiful I am. My cup of hot coffee warms me in both heart and body.
As I posted this, I thought about my list. I wondered if I should include “makes coffee,” since he does that for himself, too. But then it hit me what that means: the other things he does only for me.
My husband does things solely for the purpose of loving me.
I had never realized it before, but he absolutely does. He goes out of his way to do things just so I can feel loved.
How had I not seen this before?
I came to a sobering realization: despite all the work I’ve done on myself, I am still self-centered in my marriage.
Two things in particular led to this realization:
#1: I am not doing anything that is just for the purpose of showing him I love him.
My husband does things for me simply for the purpose of showing me his love for me. Yet I couldn’t think of a single thing I do for him for that purpose. I wash his laundry and cook most of his dinners, but those are things I’m doing for myself anyway. They are not things I do only for him. The only thing I could come up with was that I put his pills in his pill box every week. Even that, though, is a task that has to be done. It adds nothing to his life other than the few minutes he no longer has to spend arranging his pills on his own. He says it is the thing that makes him feel most loved, and that’s good—but that’s all I have.
My husband goes out of his way to do things just to love me, and I can’t think of anything I do for the purpose of helping him feel loved and cherished.
#2: I think of my love for him in terms of how he makes my life better.
He buys me cookies. He cleans the drain. I do love that he does those things—but ultimately, those are things about me, not about him.
Big Guy asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year, and I told him I wanted only one thing: I wanted him to write me a love letter.
Writing about his feelings is way outside his comfort zone, but he did it anyway. He did it because I wanted him to and because he knew that would speak love to me in a way nothing else would.
He gave me a wonderful list of the things he loves about me. While some of the things on the list are things I do for him, many of them are just things about me that he loves. His list shows that even as he sees the ways our lives have meshed together, he also sees into my heart. He sees my character. He sees the things that matter to me
He sees me.
I am ashamed to admit that my list was not really things I love about Big Guy. My list was full of things I loved that he does for me.
What he does for me is not who he is.
Intimacy is knowing and being known. Recognizing the things my husband does for me is appreciating him—but it isn’t seeing him and knowing him. It certainly isn’t loving the man he is.
Here I am married for almost 25 years, still learning what I have to work on as Big Guy’s wife.
It was a very humbling answer to the prayer I wasn’t really praying. It’s an answer to the prayer I should have been praying.
As I am writing this, Big Guy is out in the kitchen getting me a bowl of ice cream that I surely don’t deserve.
And after the ice cream? I’m starting a new list.