As an emotionally aware woman (okay, maybe hyper-aware is a more apt description), I have often thought about how I was supposed to feel about my husband.
I was supposed to love him, respect him, and trust him.
When I didn’t feel these things, I thought it was a sign that something was wrong with our marriage. More to the point, I thought something was wrong with my husband.
I didn’t feel the way I was supposed to because of him, I thought. I assumed it was within his power to change my feelings. I would think . . .
- I can’t love him until he is lovable.
- I can’t respect him until he is respectable.
- I can’t trust him until he proves himself trustworthy.
It was hard to feel these things for a man who I thought hadn’t proven himself worthy of those feelings. He would tell me it hurt him that I didn’t love, respect, or trust him. He would ask me to change. I had no idea how to do this. How do I just flip a switch on my feelings?
What My Husband Needs
I used to wait around for my husband to change so my feelings could get aligned with how I was supposed to feel.
Unfortunately, this made things worse, not better. When my husband was not proving himself worthy of my love, respect, or trust (because he’s, you know, human, just like me), I withheld myself from him in many ways—yet these were the very times when he most needed me to show him love, respect, and trust.
I realized a while ago that it is when my husband is most unlovable that he most needs love. I have learned, too that when my husband is least deserving of respect that he needs it the most. I would say that with many things, it is also when my husband has struggled with trustworthiness that he most needs me to trust him.
I’m not talking about situations where a husband is in unrepentant sin. I’m talking about a husband just being a normal guy who is usually well intentioned but messes up. Even so, it isn’t easy.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard not to let my feelings control my actions. I’ve spent a lot of time reminding myself that my feelings do not need to drive how I treat my husband.
Part of this work on myself resulted in a lightbulb moment. Considering the fact that I was an English major, it’s kind of embarrassing and funny that it took me so long to figure this out.
Here’s my big realization:
“Love,” “respect,” and “trust” are more than feelings. They’re verbs! They are words of action.
I don’t need to wait to feel love, respect, and trust before I love, respect, and trust my husband.
Love is what I do that helps my husband feel lovable.
Respect is what I do that helps my husband be respectable.
Trust is what I do to help my husband become trustworthy.
Love, respect, and trust are what I do for my husband, not how I feel about him. I need to think of them as actions, not feelings.
Do you love, respect, and trust your husband—even when you your feelings don’t line up?
Your feelings matter—and so do your husband’s. When he needs love, respect, and trust from you, are you able to think about what you can do instead of how you feel?
Marriage is not a passive relationship, where we just wait around for feelings to change or a spouse to change. Marriage requires us to be active in order to grow.
I will write several posts over the next few weeks to encourage you to think about what it looks like to love, respect, and trust—as actions, not as feelings.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net