Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 22

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says that, in the fast pace of life, wives need to check their priorities.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: First you’re a wife, and then you’re a mother. I’ve seen wives put their children above their husbands, just in terms of their priorities, and end up with children out of the nest—and no marriage.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

Nancy: One of our listeners wrote to share with us how something she had just read from Revive Our Hearts gave her some tips on how to encourage her husband. Here’s what she said:

I decided to call my husband on his cell phone. We’re in the same house, but he’s upstairs and I’m downstairs. I thanked him for choosing me to be his wife, and loving me when I wasn’t lovable, and also for standing beside me throughout these thirty-eight years. We both ended up crying! He came downstairs and gave me a hug and a kiss.

Now that I’ve been married a year-and-a-half myself, I can understand—even better than I could have a few years ago—the power of encouragement, and making your husband a priority. We’re going to talk about that today as we continue our in-depth study of Titus chapter 2.

As we walk through this passage, I want to encourage you to think about something. Don’t just listen to this message, but I want you to take action on what you’re about to hear. We’d like to help you do that by sending you a booklet called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband.

It includes day-by-day practical ideas for building up your man—the same kinds of ideas that that listener was following when she ended up crying on the phone in another part of the house from her husband.

When you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size today, we want to say "thank you" by sending you this booklet. It’s a great way to take action on the truths that we’re about to hear, and one that I believe could have a huge effect on your marriage for years to come.

Leslie: Thank you, Nancy. To get a copy of 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband, call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

As we continue studying Titus chapter 2, we’ll see what it says about priorities. Who’s more important . . . your child or your husband?

Nancy: I know many of you are familiar with the musical Fiddler on the Roof. It’s set in czarist Russia in 1905. You remember that the key couple in this musical, Tevye and Golde, are struggling to adjust to changing times as their three oldest daughters resist the idea of traditionally arranged marriage and go for the modern idea of meeting and falling in love with a young man.

I mean, that is really “modern,” right? But it was in 1905! So, when their second daughter becomes engaged, Tevye comes home and tells his wife. And you remember how that conversation goes:

Tevye says, “Golde, I’ve decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel.”

And Golde says, “What!? He’s poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!”

Tevye says, “He’s a good man, Golde. I like him! And, what’s more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him! So, what can we do? It’s a new world. Love! Golde, do you love me?” 

She says, “Do I what!?”

He says, “Do you love me?”

She says. “Do I love you? For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

Tevye says, "Golde, the first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared, but my father and my mother said we'd learn to love each other. And now I'm asking, Golde, do you love me?”

Golde: “I'm your wife!”

Tevye: "I know, but do you love me?”

Golde: “Do I love him? For twenty-five years I've lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that's not love, what is?”1

Nancy: Well, what is love? There are some different definitions there. In the last session, we gave an overview of what older women are to teach younger women. So, let me go back to that passage in Titus chapter 2 and just read it, and then I want us today to start into the specifics of that list.

Look at verses 3–5:

Older women . . . are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Do you remember, as we said yesterday, there are seven qualities in that list? The first one and the last one relate specifically to a young woman’s relationship with her husband: “. . . teach them to love their husbands and . . . to be submissive to their own husbands.”

Over the next few sessions, I want to look at this challenge that Paul gives Pastor Titus, to tell the older women to teach the younger women to love their husbands. He actually starts by saying to “love their husbands and children.” That phrase in English is really a translation of two Greek compound words that mean “husband-lover” and “child-lover.”

“Teach these younger women to be husband-lovers [of their own husband] and teach them to be child-lovers.” The only place these two words—a husband-lover and a child-lover—are used in the New Testament is right here in Titus 2. But, in that era, we do sometimes find those words written on the tombs of women—on their grave markers. “She was a husband-lover.” She loved her husband. “She was a child-lover.” She loved her children.

You think it would be natural for women to love their husbands and children, but we all know that selfishness and sin can kill love in marriages and in families. That’s why this kind of loving of husbands and of children has to be learned, it has to be cultivated. It has to be enabled by the Spirit of God.

Those of you who have followed my journey in this ministry over the years know that for many years I taught this passage as a single woman. And can I just tell you that now, as a relatively new wife (fifteen months or so), I am seeing and experiencing this passage in a whole new way . . . particularly this part about loving your husband!

Over the years, I’ve watched women; I’ve listened to them share their stories—hundreds of them, maybe thousands over the years. I’ve seen some amazing, wonderful marriages that reflect the love of God beautifully—not enough of them—and not even those marriages are easy. They didn’t get there overnight, but I’ve seen some of those marriages that really do reflect the love of God. I’ve seen other marriages—as have you (and we have all of this represented in this room today, I’m sure)—that are barely existing, hanging by a thread. They’re roommates.

Some of those relationships, those marriages, are characterized by hurt, bitterness, anger. Some of those marriages have ended, or will end, in divorce. And I think there are even more that just settle for mediocrity.

“This is the way it is. Twenty-five years, thirty-five years, fifty years . . . No, we’re not growing in our love. No, we don’t even like really each other anymore, but we’re just going to stay together.” Well, the first thing older women are encouraged to teach younger women is to love their husbands.

For those of us who are married, this is a really important way that we demonstrate our love for Christ. You and I may know our Bibles inside-out. We may have great gifts as a teacher; we may be active in all kinds of church work and social concerns; we may be a star performer in our workplace. But if things aren’t right in our marriage, they aren’t right! It affects everything else, doesn’t it? You see, our attitude toward our husband is an evidence of what we really believe about God and His Word and His ways.

We can’t say we have sound doctrine . . . That’s where we started this passage: “Teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Teach what sound doctrine looks like on a child of God. We can't say we have sound doctrine if we don’t love our husbands. Loving our husbands flows out of the gospel, it flows out of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

And this kind of love—our love for Christ and our love for our husbands—flows out of a promise. It flows out of a vow, a covenant. Those of you women in the room who are married, you remember walking down an aisle and standing with your husband at an altar.

I want you to think back to that day. You made some vows to that man; he made some to you. You exchanged vows, and you did this in the presence of God and other witnesses. Can you remember what you said? Have you thought about those words in a while?

One of the most special wedding gifts Robert and I received for our wedding is right here on the platform with me. Two couples with whom we have a close relationship took our vows (ahead of time) and had them done in calligraphy.

Then at the wedding, different people who were there—friends, family members—signed these vows as participants in our wedding. We said we didn’t have bridesmaids and groomsmen—attendants. We said, “You’re all our attendants. You’re here to witness the exchange of our vows before the Lord and you.”

So, they put their names on here. If Robert and I don’t, by God’s grace, keep these vows, here are some of the people who are going to come after us! (laughter) They were there to witness this.

Now, the Lord, He’s helping us day by day to do this. But this is something that we then had framed after our wedding. We have it displayed in our home. And sometimes, we just walk up to the wall where this is hanging in our home, and we remind ourselves of what we said that day.

So, honey, if you’d join me up here (Robert’s in our session today). Now, this is not quite the way we did it at our wedding, because the pastor—our friend Dr. William Hogan—lined these out for us so we wouldn’t have to be reading them like this. But this is kind of what we do when we go to that wall in our home. Robert reads his first. 

Robert Wolgemuth:

In the presence of God and these witnesses, by a holy covenant, I—Robert—take you—Nancy—to be my wife. I joyfully and gratefully receive you as God’s gracious gift.

I promise to love you, to cherish you, and to shepherd you as Christ loves, cherishes, and shepherds His church. I promise to give myself for you as Christ laid down His life for us. I promise to wash you with the Word, so as to present you holy and blameless before our Lord.

With sincerity of heart and dependence on the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I pledge to you my tenderness, my faithfulness, my friendship, my affection, and my love as long as we both shall live.

Nancy:

In the presence of God and these witnesses, by a holy covenant, I—Nancy—take you—Robert—to be my husband. I joyfully and gratefully receive you as God’s gracious gift. I promise to respect you, to reverence you, and to submit to you in everything as my earthly head—as the church respects, reverences, and submits to Christ, her eternal Head.

As your helper, I will love, comfort, and support you, and will serve the Lord by your side. With sincerity of heart and in dependence on the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I pledge to you my tenderness, my faithfulness, my friendship, my affection, and my love as long as we both shall live.” (applause)

And that’s what we go back to. We made a vow; we made a covenant. And on some days . . . actually, there are no days we look the same as we looked at our wedding. That’s the most dressed-up we’ve ever been or ever will be again, likely.

There are lots of days when circumstances are way different than they were on that day. There are moments when we look at each other and we (well, I can’t say what’s in Robert’s mind at given point) . . . But there are moments when we look at each other and think to ourselves, I don’t get this; I don’t get you.

This is more challenging, maybe, than we thought it would be, in that moment. And the glue—what we keep going back to, what we found our love in—is God’s covenant-keeping love for us and then, a covenant we made to each other. We choose to love each other with the love of Christ flowing through us by His grace, and (as we said) in dependence on the power of His Holy Spirit.

Now, there are a lot of young couples (and, like us, older couples sometimes) who make these kinds of lofty vows. They say these things standing before each other at an altar. And, leading up to that point and early in their marriage, they are so madly in love with each other.

And oftentimes, have you noticed, it’s the opposite qualities that attract them to each other. I remember a young friend of mine was very bubbly and effervescent and expressive. One of the things she loved about her husband while they were dating was, she would say, “He’s so quiet!” She loved that.

About eight months into their marriage, she’s going, “He is sooo quiet!” Something that drew them together was something that, then, had the potential to grate on each other. Has anybody here ever experienced this in your marriage? I see some affirmation there.

Couples become annoyed with qualities they either hadn’t seen, or they had seen through different eyes when they were in that courtship process. Sometimes, that annoyance can even turn to deep-seated bitterness, anger, hurt—even hatred.

Some couples get to the place—and maybe you’ve been there—where they can’t even stand to be around each other. What happens? How do you get from the altar, from deep expressions of love, to the place where you can’t stand being in the same room with each other?

Well, it reminds us that we all need to be trained. It reminds us that women who are married (and particularly Paul is focusing here on younger women) need to be trained how to love their husbands. So what does it mean to love your husband in a Titus 2 way?

We’ve said that this word is “husband-lover.” It’s a compound word. The first part of that word means loving as a friend, as a companion. And then, the second part is the word “husband.” So, it’s loving your husband as his friend, as his companion.

Some of translations put it this way: “teach the younger women to be attached to their husbands;” “teach them to be fond of their husbands;” “teach them to be affectionate to their husbands.”

Let me say that in this Titus 2 passage, this is not talking primarily about romantic or sexual love. There are plenty of other places in the Scripture that do talk about that. So it’s important. And that can be cultivated as well; it needs to be cultivated.

But that’s not what Paul is talking about in this passage. He’s talking about the kind of love that treats your husband with affection, in an affectionate way. It’s a kind of love that is more than just fulfilling our duty toward our husbands. It means enjoying him, actually liking him, being his friend, taking pleasure in him, being a husband-liker, a husband-lover, his friend, his companion.

As Robert and I have gotten to know each other, he’s often talked about the importance of friendship as a foundational quality in marriage—and that’s what Paul is getting at in this passage.

So today and in the next session, I want to give a few simple, practical suggestions for cultivating that kind of enjoyment, that kind of love and affection for your husband. I’m probably not going to say anything that you don’t already know if you’ve been married for any length of time, but I find that we all need reminders.

We need to remind ourselves, we need to remind each other . . . Older women—even if you’re not married or you were married at one point but you’re not today, maybe you’re widowed, maybe you’re divorced—you have learned, maybe the hard way, the importance of loving your husband this way.

That’s why these younger women need you to come alongside of them and encourage them and coach them in this area. And let me just say that this conversation is going to be one-sided. I’m not talking to husbands. I’m talking to wives about how to love your husband.

But I would like to just insert here that Robert does a beautiful job of talking to husbands about how to cultivate this kind of friendship in his latest book (that’s coming out in just a few weeks). It’s called Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace.

This is a book that, I think, is going to be a great encouragement to many husbands. It will be available through our ministry—here at ReviveOurHearts.com—just as soon as it comes off the press.

So what does this passage (Titus 2:3–5) suggest to us about cultivating, as wives, this kind of love for our husbands? Well, if you’re a wife and a mother, one of the things I think this passage suggests is that your most important human relationships are those that you have with your husband and with your children.

“Teach the young women to love their husbands and children.” And notice there in verse 4 which comes first. “To love their husbands.” Loving your husband precedes loving children—which just says, simply, your relationship with your husband comes before your relationship with your children.

Now, your children may be little ones who are demanding a lot of time these days, and that takes special navigation and special understanding from a husband. Your children may be grown and in a season of life where they’re requiring a lot of time from you.

I have a friend who just had her twentieth and twenty-first grandchildren born two days apart—one in Canada and one Texas—and then another one of her children needed her to stay with four of their kids in-between. So she went a month without seeing the second-born baby. Her life has just been crazy!

I was with her and her husband when they finally reconnected with each other after a number of weeks of travel. It was a season where her children were needing her assistance for a lot of time, but she and her husband know that. If they don’t cultivate and care for their relationship, they’re not going to have what they need to give to their children—even their grown children.

I have seen wives who put their children above their husband day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year, and some of those women end up with no marriage to speak of. It’s not the only reason marriages can go awry, but it’s one important one.

That means if you’re married, you need to share time and activities with your husband apart from the children. Now, you may not be able to do that for lengthy periods of time every day. You may be in a season of life, as a young mom, where you guys scramble to get thirty minutes of conversation with each other.

I’m sitting here looking at Heather. They’re in a season of life with lots of little munchkins, so they have to get what they can. But they have to prioritize their marriage and do things together—grow together as friends, serve together, pray together, have fun together. You need to put your relationship with your husband before that with your children.

And then, no matter how long you may have been married, I want to encourage you that we, as wives, need to be intentional, purposeful about cultivating and deepening our friendship with our husbands. We need to look for fresh, creative ways to love him, to enjoy him, to be his friend.

Now, again, I am no expert at this. We’ve been married about fifteen months, yet I’ve already realized—we’ve already realized—that you can fall into some ruts. You can get stale. You can forget the first things that made your relationship so special. You can forget to cherish each other in the busyness and the activity of everyday life.

Today is a recording day here at Revive Our Hearts. And my precious husband, whom you just heard from a few moments ago, is going to get on an airplane this afternoon and head out for a few days . . . and today is his birthday. It’s a crazy day! We’ve got a lot going on. 

But we need to have those times when we get away from the crowd, we cherish each other. We, even in the midst of the crowd, can do simple, little things that keep our relationship fresh. A few of the things I’m learning and working on is: be a student of your husband . . . always . . . not just when you’re newlyweds. 

Find out what matters to him, what’s meaningful to him, what interests him. What does he care about? And the answers to those questions will be different in your marriage than they are in mine. Learn to show interest in the things that interest your husband. For me, that means being interested in his business, in the meetings he has.

We met in the kitchen last night. I had been studying; he’d been on some phone calls. I was preparing for today. He was preparing for his trip coming up. But it was important for me to take a few minutes and say, “How did your calls go? How did your conversation go with so-and-so?” It's important to be interested in his day, as he always is in mine. Asking questions about each other’s day, about what’s happening in each other’s lives.

For me, being intentional and showing an interest in my husband’s life meant that—even while we were dating—I switched sports. I’d been a football fan for a number of years. I knew nothing—and really cared very little—about the sport of baseball. Robert likes a lot of sports. He grew up in Chicago—he’s a Chicago Cubs fan! So it meant, for me, learning enough about baseball to sit by his side and enjoy baseball games.

It meant becoming a Cubs fan in 2016. After a 108 year famine, what a year to become a Cubs fan! Ya think? (laughter) Man—all you people have been waiting all those decades! I picked the right year to become a Cubs fan! (And I’m sure they’re going to do it again this year, right?)

So, showing interest in the things that interest him. It means taking time to sit down and listen to each other and talk . . . without a phone in your hands. Now, my husband does that easily. He’s a great conversationalist. He can go for long periods of time without his phone. Me—not so much. So that’s something I have to work on—I do work on.

We had a sweet time the other night where we just sat down after dinner. We both have a lot going on, a lot on our to-do list. Both of our offices are in our home, so we could spend all day, all night, every day, 24/7 working separately, each in our own study, but we don’t do that. We want to have a marriage that reflects the love of Christ.

So we sat down after dinner on the sofa, in front of the fireplace, and just talked. It wasn’t deep and heavy. It was sweet. It was important for staying connected. We find that there is a lot of joy in simple, repeated rituals—things that you do day after day.

I have a little line (I’m not going to tell you what it is, even if you ask) that I text or write to Robert almost every day since we got married (I’ll miss a day here and there). It’s the same thing. Now, I say new things, but I want to say that same thing. We have some rituals. 

He’s quite tall, I’m quite short. So when we come to a step, I get up on the step, he gets below me, and we kiss. We have a step ritual. We have a little street that we pass on our way home, and whenever we do (not every time, but many times)—it’s a long story how this first happened—but we stop at that little road. 

I live on a street where there are more deer than cars, so there’s usually no danger of other cars being around, and we stop and we kiss at that little street. Now, you say, “Oh you guys are just newlyweds.” I hope we’re doing that when we are “old-ly-weds”—simple repeated rituals.

Texting and emails. It’s easy to fall into something where you’re just communicating facts, information to each other—short, quick. But we have found that it’s really important (and, again, I’ve learned so much about this from Robert) to give—not just facts—but to take the extra seconds to share that words that are warm and tender, kind and grateful. 

If you could read our text streams (which you probably never will!), there’s a lot of that in there. Now Robert is wired more that way. He’s a romantic. After fifty-seven years of living as a single woman, and being cautious in my relationships with married men—or any men—I’m not so naturally wired that way, but our relationship is making me more that way. 

I find that you can choose to write those tender, sweet things. They may not be brim full in your heart at that moment, but your heart gets filled up as you make the choice to love. We look for opportunities to surprise and delight each other, to outdo one another in showing honor in thoughtful acts and kindness.

Think back to the early days of your relationship—what it was like—and how you were so tender and thoughtful and kind and assumed the best of each other. How come it is that weeks or months or years into marriage, all of a sudden we’re forgetting to do those things? We’re not remembering to do those simple acts and words of kindness.

Somewhere along the line, we stopped being kind and courteous and thoughtful. As you invest in your husband and in that relationship, that’s where your treasure will be. That’s where your heart will be.

If you stop investing, you’re going to find yourself or your mate vulnerable to someone else—perhaps—who will invest in that relationship. You’ve seen it happen. A wife meets someone at work, or connects with an old friend on Facebook. She’s not been investing in her husband, in their relationship. And now, this other man shows an interest in her. She responds. She start to invest time and interest and conversation and a listening ear—showing interest in what interests this man who’s not her husband.

And before you know it, she’s “in love.” She’s feeling things she has not felt for her husband in a very long time. Why? Because she has been tending the soil of this other relationship in a way she hasn’t been doing in her own marriage. She’s been investing in this other person.

I just want to say, if she would do the same thing—invest that way in her own marriage—there’s a good chance that she would find the love that has been dormant, or maybe even dead, would start to grow again!

We’re going to pick up with this theme tomorrow and just some additional thoughts—practical thoughts about how to cultivate love and friendship between you and your husband.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will return to pray for the marriages represented by our listeners today—listeners like the one who wrote from Ohio, not long ago. She said,

You have helped me prioritize my role in this world—to be my husband’s helper. Through Revive Our Hearts and His [God’s] Word, you’ve encouraged me to make my home an invitation of comfort to my family.

Isn’t that great? I can guarantee this listener doesn’t live in “la-la land,” where everything is easy. I know that because it’s not easy for anybody.

We all have challenges, and the call to love our families is given to women in the tough situations of real life. We can’t create a nurturing home environment without the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Lord can also use others to help us grow.

One way He can help you grow is through a booklet from Revive Our Hearts called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. Each day you’ll read ideas about how to build up your man. Believe me, Revive Our Hearts gets a steady stream of listeners who have taken the challenge laid out in this booklet and have seen a huge effect in their homes!

To get a copy, donate any amount by phone, and ask for 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. Here’s the number: 1–800–569–5959, or just visit ReviveOurHearts.com. You can donate there and request the booklet. We’ll send one booklet per household for your donation this week.

Look, if you take this thirty-day challenge seriously, it’s possible you’ll look back and realize it was a turning point in your marriage. If you’re thinking, That’s a nice idea. Why don’t you turn that idea into action and contact us? 

If your teenagers were to talk to you the way you talk to your husband, would they ever be punished for disrespect? We’ll take a look at that tomorrow. Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, as I look into the eyes of these women and think about those who are listening by means of the radio or Internet, I know that there are a lot of wives who are really wanting to obey Your Word and to love their husbands in ways that are pleasing to You.

I just pray for tailor-made grace and wisdom and creativity and desire. I pray that You would instill fresh desire and hope and friendship and companionship and fondness in many, many marriages represented by these women.

Oh Lord, may the marriages of Your people reflect the wonder and the beauty of Your love for us—and Christ’s love for His Church. Thank You, Lord, for that awesome love and for the privilege of loving others as You have loved us. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is committed to healthy marriages. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

1 Lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof.

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