Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Loving Our Husbands

Leslie Basham: You can’t go buy a set of instructions that tell you how to love your husband. Here’s what a wife needs to do according to Carolyn Mahaney.

Carolyn Mahaney: It’s studying your husband. What are the things that communicate love to him? For every wife it’s going to be different. It’s going to look different. There are just things that are meaningful to my husband. It’s discovering and discerning what blesses him, what’s meaningful to him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, July 10. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We always enjoy getting emails and letters from our listeners telling us how God is using the ministry of Revive Our Hearts in their lives and also sharing with us how we can pray. We do have a team of prayer warriors, prayer partners who pray for those pray requests.

I suppose the most common type of letter or email we get with a prayer request has to do with women who are concerned about their marriage and issues with their husband, with their relationship as husband and wife. My heart goes out to those women. I’m so thankful that the Scripture provides insight and wisdom and direction for every area of our lives as women and certainly in the area of the marriage relationship.

So I’m delighted this week that we’re able to talk with my friend Carolyn Mahaney, who’s written a wonderful book called Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother. We’re going to focus today on some of the insights the Lord has shown Carolyn from His Word about godly marriage.

Carolyn, thanks so much for being back with us on Revive Our Hearts.

Carolyn: Thank you, Nancy. It’s great to be here.

Nancy: I’m so glad you have with you today your three daughters. Why don’t you introduce them and tell us who your daughters are.

Carolyn: Happy to. My oldest daughter is with me. Her name is Nicole. She’s married. My second daughter, Kristin, is married to Brian Chesemore. Janelle, my youngest daughter—she’s married to Mike Bradshaw. It is a treat for me to have them here with me today.

Nancy: Carolyn, did you and your husband CJ start praying for your daughters in relation to marriage when they were little girls?

Carolyn: We certainly did, and God has answered our prayers above and beyond. In my view, I have the best sons-in-law in the world. So God has been very gracious to us.

Nancy: And now you have the best grandchildren in the world, right?

Carolyn: That would be the truth.

Nancy: Well, it is so exciting to see how the legacy of faith is being handed down from one generation to the next as your mother taught you so much of the ways of God and then you have taught your daughters the ways of God. Your daughters are now in their twenties. Now you girls—if you don’t mind me calling you that—are now with your husbands and the families God has given you reproducing in the next generation the Word of God, the ways of God, and God’s great redemptive plan.

His intent was that we should pass it on from one generation to the next. I love to see families who are doing that. That’s God’s plan for the family. Not just that people should be happily married, though He wants that. But there’s a purpose for all of that and it really has to do with God’s greater plan, doesn’t it?

Carolyn: It does. I believe that greater plan is the gospel. So if we are walking out our family lives according to God’s plan, according to His Word, I believe God uses that to put His gospel on display. That is the primary reason to cultivate these kinds of relationships as a family.

Nancy: Now your book is centered around the passage in Titus chapter 2, which talks about older women teaching younger women what is good. Then Paul gives us seven qualities—seven feminine virtues, you call them—that we are to seek as women to cultivate in our lives. Several of those center around the home.

We want to be quick to say that many of these qualities single women can apply as well and that it’s important for single women to be learning these qualities. Even the first one we want to talk about today, which is loving your husband. Why is it important—and you younger married girls, jump in here—for even single women to learn a principle like how to love your husband?

Janelle: Well, I believe femininity is something we’re to cultivate as women whether we are single or married. Being married does not make us more feminine. Our mom taught us during our single years at home that these virtues were vital, to cultivate them. We also as single women can adorn the gospel and make it attractive.

I just remember my mom helping us to see that if we didn’t cultivate a love for the home in those years, we couldn’t expect to have love for the home when we got married. But it’s not only for preparation purposes that we’re to cultivate these virtues. I believe that they are given by God to all women—married and single.

Nancy: When you girls were single girls, your mom was really working on helping you prepare for marriage. What were some of the things that your mom did to help you? As you look back now as young married women, how did your mom help prepare you to face marriage? Kristin.

Kristin: Well, she did many things growing up. She first and foremost taught us by her example. That was one of the greatest gifts she’s given me. Secondly, she taught us practically, and many of them are fun memories along the way. She taught us by taking us to different classes that would teach us skills so that we could serve our husbands effectively in the home. We would do cooking projects together around the house. She would teach us to clean or do laundry. She modeled that for us and then she practically taught it to us over the course of our lives. All of that I’ve taken into my marriage. It has served me so much.

Janelle: She was always very clear when she was teaching us these principles and these virtues that God may not have called all of us to be married and that applying these things and learning these things were not dependent upon marriage, that they were Scriptural commands and they are part of being a feminine, biblical woman. There are so many ways to express that femininity when you’re single, as you’re single.

In my single years, I was really able to just express my femininity through helping care for my younger brother, through helping my mom care for our home when she was writing, through caring for cousins and my nephews, interacting with different women in the church who already were married. So it was never dependent upon marriage. You don’t learn these things because you’re getting married. It’s because of God’s Word and the gospel.

Nancy: The first principle given to us, the first virtue, in Titus, chapter 2, that older women are to teach younger women, is how to love their husbands. So that implies that loving husbands doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

Carolyn: True. It doesn’t come naturally. If it did, we wouldn’t need to be taught it. So I think if we just automatically do what comes naturally, oftentimes it’s the wrong thing. So it is something that we need the example and instruction of other women and we need their help.

This particular love in this passage of Scripture is a phileo love. It speaks of a tender, passionate love. It’s a love where you really enjoy your husband. It’s a friendship love.

Nancy: Now the word some of us are familiar with in the Greek language for love is the word agape.

Carolyn: True.

Nancy: But that’s not the word used here?

Carolyn: No.

Nancy: What’s the difference?

Carolyn: I find that interesting that that word was chosen here in this passage. In fact, women are never told in Scripture to agape their husbands—to love them sacrificially. Obviously, we know we are because the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself and our husband is obviously our closest neighbor. The word “love” there is agape. So obviously we are to love our husbands sacrificially.

I think the reason phileo was chosen in this particular passage is that all too often I think as women we’re so consumed with all of our responsibilities that very often we neglect this tender love. I know I find for myself I get so busy serving my husband, my family, taking responsibilities in the home that oftentimes I neglect that tenderness. That’s something I really have to work at.

So I believe the reason this particular word was chosen is because it attests to possibly our weakness as women in that we really have to be reminded that this tender, passionate love is something that we really have to work at and cultivate and keep fresh in our marriage.

Nancy: The fact that Paul says older women should teach younger women how to love their husbands suggests that it can be learned. Do you think any woman can learn to love her husband?

Carolyn: Most definitely. I believe we can all learn to love our husbands. If that command is given in Scripture, then obviously it’s something that we can attain to.

Nancy: So help a woman, Carolyn. Let’s do a little mentoring here with some younger women who are listening. Now you've got three daughters here who you’ve taught this to. They love their husbands. They enjoy their husbands.

But I’m hearing some woman say, “You don’t know my husband. He is impossible to live with. He’s lazy. He doesn’t take responsibility, or he doesn’t know the Lord, doesn’t have a heart for God. I thought I loved him when we got married, but it’s been 17 years now of real heartache and pain, and you’re telling me I’m supposed to love and enjoy this man with tender affection? How do I do that?”

Carolyn: That’s an excellent question. The sobering thing in this verse is there is no contingency clause here. We’re not told to love if he is qualified, if he is deserving of that love. In some situations we may look at a marriage and say that person is not deserving of that tender love.

I certainly know women in my life who are in some very difficult marriages and challenging situations. My heart breaks for these women as I watch what they’re walking through. Yet the reason we can love is because we have first been loved. Because God loved us, we in turn can love our husbands.

If we think about what Jesus did for us on the cross, when we think about God who so loved the world that He gave His only Son, and this seemingly senseless situation of giving up His Son to die, and yet He purchased our salvation out of that situation, we can look at our situation, however difficult it may be, and say, “If God purchased and gave us salvation from that seemingly senseless situation, He can do the same in my marriage. He can take this seemingly senseless situation and He can cause good to come out of this.”

I have watched many women over the years who have faithfully loved their husbands even when they weren’t lovable, and God has used that tender love to actually win their husbands to the Lord. It has been a very encouraging situation.

Nancy: Girls, your mom talks to other women about loving their husbands, and I want to hear from her daughters what you observed growing up about how your mom treated your dad. Now I don’t want to scare anybody, but I know that you have watched your mom. Now you’re making choices in your own marriages based on what you’ve seen in her life. As you were growing up and you saw your mom deal with your dad, what are some of the things that impressed you the most?

Janelle: I think of respect when I think of my mom’s relationship with my dad. She always showed him honor, deference, respect, the way she cared for him. The way she talked to him. The way we would watch her serve him. There was such a deep love, such a deep passion, such a deep friendship, and yet there was always such a respect shown to him for his leadership.

She made following him attractive. As I’ve gotten married and began to learn how to follow my own husband, I think about my mom’s example many times—when I’m tempted and I desire to show Mike respect the way my mom respected my father.

Nancy: How did she show that respect to him? How did you know growing up that she really respects our dad?

Janelle: One way tangibly was the way she talked about him to us or to other people. It was always in a way that showed honor. She never spoke negatively. She wouldn’t even mock him or tease him. There was just always that—“No, he’s set apart in my life. He’s the one person who I won’t speak that way or I will never talk negatively about him.”

I remember when my relationship with Mike began—we were beginning to see each other—her challenging me in that area: that Mike needs to be set apart. I need to speak about him and to him differently than I do others.

Nicole: I think one of the things that stands out to me is that we always knew dad was the most important person in my mom’s life. She oriented her life around him and served him. He was the one she loved the most. It wasn’t out of a duty. It was obvious that she loved orienting her life around our dad.

Many examples of that come to mind. We always knew that my mom would do anything for us. She served us heroically. But dad always came first. My dad’s needs, his desires came before ours. She taught us to desire to serve our father in the same way and eventually serve our husbands that way.

So all of her decisions in life about what to do were made about whether it would serve my dad or not. I think the evident joy with which she did those things is what sticks out to me the most. She so enjoyed laying her life down and loving her husband that way. It inspires me to want to do the same.

I think one other thing that stands out is the way that she would just seek to make his life delightful. Things like having his favorite soda on hand or whatever his preferences and his likes. Always seeking to buy him little gifts, things that he might want or enjoy. Making a big deal out of Father’s Day or his birthday. So many ways that she just sought to show her love for my dad.

Nancy: Now you girls make this sound like this is just the way it ought to be and maybe other people would assume that this is the way it ought to be, and yet you know what you’re talking about is very politically incorrect. I can just hear some women saying, “You have got to be kidding! Treat my husband that way? He needs to treat me right for a change.”

Really I think some women could think, “Boy, if I treat my husband with that kind of respect and honor, whatever, who’s going to give attention to me? Who’s going to look out for me?” Yet you’re saying that you saw in your mom, as she treated your dad that way, a joy and a freedom. This was a blessing, not a labor.

Janelle: My dad adored my mom for it. It blessed him so much. Even in the little ways I’ve sought to emulate my mom in my marriage, my husband’s just been amazed that I would even want to show him respect or want to orient my life towards him. So just the benefits in your marriage, the effect it has on your love for one another.

Nancy: How does that affect your husband when you treat him that way, with that kind of respect and honor?

Janelle: There’s increased affection and appreciation for me and my role as his wife. I find that in turn—and it’s not what I’m look for or asking for—but he will show me honor and communicate his respect and gratefulness for me in seeking to bless him.

Kristin: Caring for two small children and all the responsibilities that go along with that, she’s always faithful to remind me that after our relationship with the Lord there is no one I should prize more than my husband. That in turn will serve my children.

So it helps me as I think about all my priorities and all the different needs that seem to call my name each day. It helps me to fix my eyes on the first thing which is most important, which is my relationship with God, and then after that, which is my relationship with my husband, and orienting my life in the way that would most glorify God.

Nancy: Carolyn, did you find that when you had three small children that it was tempting sometimes to put your children’s needs ahead of your husband's?

Carolyn: That’s just an ongoing challenge. If you have small children, their needs are so demanding and so constant. It is really something you have to have fixed in your heart—that this is something God has called you to, to put your husband first.

I know something that helped me, again, was just that this ultimately, if I was concerned about my children, this would serve my children. If they saw me prizing their father, not only does that bring security in their lives, but one day it’s going to help them in their marriages as they put their husbands before their children.

My husband and I used to have—we still do after being married 28 years—we still take a weekly date night. It was more challenging to arrange that when our children were small. Having to arrange for a babysitter. Sometimes they weren’t always happy we were going out. They’d be crying because they wanted me to stay home.

We’d always say, “Mommy and Daddy are going out to spend time together and our relationship is a priority. As we spend time together, it helps us to be a better mommy and daddy to you.” So just helping them from the time they were little to see that is the most important earthly relationship.

Nancy: What have you younger girls who are newly married found are some of the things, some of the ways that you communicate to your husbands that you cherish them and that you prize them? How do you do that practically?

Kristin: I think one idea I heard is just sitting down and just asking them:

  • What are more effective ways I can serve you?
  • What are ways that would bless you?
  • How can I serve you as a wife or a mother?
  • Are there any things I can do for you that would make you more effective in the role that God’s called you to do?”

Nancy: Your husband likes it when you ask him that?

Daughters: Yes.

Nicole: I think my husband has often communicated that he feels very cherished by me when I greet him, simply greet him when he comes home. When I stop what I’m doing, give him a hug and a kiss, and say, “I’m really glad to see you. How was your day?” Just being affectionate, showing him that I love and care for him.

So there’s the serving aspect, but beyond that he’s even told me he appreciates it even more when I’m showing him affection and just tender love. I think also finding out his preferences about ways he’d like things done around the house. He has certain things that he’d prefer so I find out what those are and try to see to it that I keep my house in a way that blesses him, not purely out of what I would prefer.

Janelle: My man loves it when I cook.

Nancy: What man doesn’t? [Laughter]

Janelle: It’s fun though. The other day I just took an afternoon and cooked some of his favorite food and surprised him when he got home from work. It’s amazing how much something like that ends up blessing him—that I would do that just for him. Even though it’s something that’s so small and seemingly insignificant, it was significant to him.

Nancy: Isn’t it amazing how often we treat guests with more care and tenderness and thoughtfulness than we do the people that we live with, the people we’re closest to. We tend to take them for granted.

I find with my own family that it’s easier for me to sometimes be more sensitive to the needs and the desires and the interests of people I hardly know. Somebody I just met at a conference I’ll sit down and listen to for a long period of time, but if somebody in my family wants to start talking, I’m not as tuned in to what their needs are.

So really when Scripture tells wives to love their husbands, the apostle is saying, “Put that husband’s interests ahead of your own, cherish, prize and enjoy him.”

Leslie: There is a natural drift that takes you away from loving actions. I need the kind of reminder we heard today from Nancy Leigh DeMoss along with Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters. Listening to programs like this on Revive Our Hearts is an invaluable source of godly counsel in a culture that doesn’t always promote love or faithfulness in marriage.

One of our listeners wrote to tell us how much the program helps her. She said,

Nancy has a way of making you stop and think about a lot of things. Since listening to her, I have made a commitment to love my husband unconditionally. I know with God’s help I can do it.

Responses like that show God’s faithfulness because the team here is very needy for His help. As we provide a daily radio program and content-filled website our listeners pray for us and our listeners give so we can pay the bills and continue speaking into the lives of women every day. If you’ve never given to Revive Our Hearts, could we hear from you? You can make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com.

One of the projects that our listeners make possible is a radio feature called Seeking Him. This daily encouragement airs on radio stations all across the country, including some music stations that don’t carry Revive Our Hearts since we don’t fit a music format. I thought you’d enjoy hearing one of those Seeking Him features. Let’s listen.

Nancy: In 2 Chronicles we read about a nation in crisis. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, received news of a huge imposing army about to attack. Scripture says Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord. The leader of this nation didn’t issue a poll. He didn’t go on television to restore confidence. He didn’t send a press secretary to spin the story. He did something far more powerful. He sought the Lord.

Our nation is facing some imposing challenges. This globe is fractured and complicated. Terrorism is a concern. We face financial uncertainty. In times like these some seek immediate political solutions. Others turn to diversions and entertainment. Others try to take advantage of the situation for their own gain. But we need to do today what Jehoshaphat did and set our faces to seek the Lord, asking Him to send revival to His people.

With Seeking Him I’m Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Leslie: That’s Seeking Him, a radio feature that gets heard on radio stations across the country. You can also listen to Seeking Him anytime online at our website. You can also hear it as a daily podcast. Both of these options are available at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also read the daily Seeking Him transcript or have it emailed to you.

It’s amazing how many women write us to let us know the Seeking Him transcript was exactly what they needed that day. That transcript is like a daily devotional delivered straight to you. Read or sign up for the Seeking Him transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

How do you love your husband even if you don’t feel like loving? Nancy will talk about it next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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