The little blue engine looked up at the hill.
His light was weak, his whistle was shrill.
He was tired and small, and the hill was tall,
And his face blushed red as he softly said,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
So he started up with a chug an a strain,
And he puffed and pulled with might and main.
And slowly he climbed, a foot at a time,
And his engine coughed as he whispered soft,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
With a squeak and a creak and a toot and a sigh,
With an extra hope and an extra try,
He would not stop-now he neared the top-
And strong and proud he cried out loud,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!”
He was almost there when- CRASH! SMASH! BASH!
He slid down and mashed into engine hash
On the rocks below…which goes to show
If the track is tough and the hill is rough,
THINKING you can just ain’t enough!
– The Little Blue Engine by Shel Silverstein
This ill-fated tale reminds me of how so many people approach marriage with eagerness and excitement, only to have their “love” ultimately fizzle out and end in divorce. The words “til death do us part” are said so easily, so readily…and yet too often in our world this vow is not taken seriously…and is quickly broken.
Contrary to the words flippantly spoken at the altar, more marriages are dissolved by the devil than by death. Countless couples have allowed Satan to creep into their marriage lives and steal their joy. Why? How is divorce so widespread? Why isn’t love enduring until the end? What happened to make the love of so many “disappear”?
Furthermore, could this happen to you or me?
As christian women, we don’t ever want to find ourselves standing in line at divorce court…we want to have a love that endures through eternity! Each of us would most likely agree, yet words are easily spoken and easily broken. How are we going to make sure that our marriages last?
Today we will embark on a three part journey to see just how you or I might foolishly send our marriage lives down the tubes. Here are three “matrimonial mishaps” we want to make sure to avoid…
Matrimonial Mishap # 1: Silliness
Many of the problems women face in marriage simply arise from their naivete. Perhaps we didn’t have a good example set before us as we grew up, and we have a lot to learn about what it takes to be a good wife. Alternately, even if we did have a good example to follow, learning our individual men and how to serve them can be a real challenge at times! Learning a man can take years (less if we take it seriously)…either way it is well worth the time invested.
Now we all have to start somewhere, and we all will naturally be a little silly at first when marriage is new to us. Yet we should not stay silly very long! Every wife needs to make it her utmost priority in marriage to learn her man. Until she properly learns him, she can not properly love him. There are many wives who believe that they love their husband wholeheartedly…yet their husband does not feel loved. How can this be? Here’s the problem…
He is not being loved the way he needs to be loved.
We can not expect to show our husbands love in the way we as women want to be loved. A man’s needs are distinctly different from that of a woman! It is not for us to set out to change our men to fit a feminine mold…that will never work. It is our job to find out how to love our men in the unique and special ways that they desire in their masculinity.
– Do you know what things make your husband happy? If not, today is the day to find out.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15
Pay special attention to the things your husband voices. Men aren’t typically like women in sharing everything that comes to their mind with their spouse! Their words, while generally few, really mean something. Most everything a man says is in some way methodically calculated to reach a desired goal. So think hard…what has your husband been hinting to you? Here are some questions to ask yourself about your man:
-What are his favorite activities?
-What are his favorite meals?
-What kind of movies does he like to watch with you?
-Does he prefer your hair long, or short…up, or down?
-Does he like his woman in dresses, or jeans and a tee-shirt?
-Does he like you to goof off a lot, or be serious most of the time?
-Is he a man who needs some alone time, or does he want you constantly by his side?
-How often does he want to have sex…once a year, three times a day?
Girl, if you don’t easily know the answers to these questions you’ve got some learning to do! Remember this…if you love to learn him, you will learn to love him.
Even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. – Kahlil Gibran (1923)
A man needs a wife who is savvy, not silly.
Matrimonial Mishap # 2: Selfishness
When women don’t mature from silliness, they will inevitably move into a state of selfishness. It’s just a fact. If we don’t spend our time learning our husband and growing into his dream woman, we will instead grow into an independent, self-made, self-absorbed woman. We don’t want to allow this to happen, for you know what they say about teaching an old dog new tricks…
One of the most basic christian trademarks is a spirit of selflessness and the art of putting others first. How can we lose sight of this when it comes to our husbands whom we are to serve as unto Christ on earth? When I speak with other women about serving their husbands, I am frequently met with this question: “but what about ME?” Honestly, it’s not for us to ask such an irreverent question. I hate to burst anyone’s 21st century bubble, but the “Me-First” delusion is not of God. I know I weary of this attitude and it’s so much more appalling to our Lord who made women to be servants to their husbands.
When we have moved from silliness to selfishness we have moved past even caring at all about what our husbands want. His words now go in one ear and out the other, for in our lack of love for him we grew more in love with ourselves. When we are selfish it becomes so easy to justify our own behavior by demonizing his.
Every way of a man (or in our case, woman) is right in his own eyes. – Proverbs 12:15a, 21:2a [emphasis mine]
“I know my husband would like to have sex with me every day, but what a dog! Only a sicko would want it that much…he needs to learn to control his urges like *I* do.”
If this is your view of sex, you are looking through the wrong lens – a feminine one! Wake up…you did not marry yourself, you married a MAN. Just because you may not want or need sex certainly does not mean that he doesn’t. He needs sex far more than you can wrap your mind around. Will you not have the common decency to fulfill a hunger that, might I remind you, only YOU can provide for him?
“He likes my hair kept long but I like it short. I felt it was time for a change, so I went to the salon and got it chopped off. I mean, it’s my head, not his! If he likes long hair so much he can grow his own out!”
I hear this attitude a lot…some women feel stifled by their husband’s style so they justify taking matters into their own hands in the name of “it’s my body”, or “it’s my hair”, or “it’s my nails”, or whatever the particular contention may be. Truthfully, we are not our own. We are to submit to our husbands as unto the Lord…so would this be our response to God? “It’s my body Lord, stop trying to control me”…how juvenile and dishonoring! Show respect to your husband by styling yourself to his preference.
“I’m tired of him telling me what to do with my money. *I* earned it, so *I* will choose how, where, and when I spend it. He needs to mind his own business.”
If you had a “thus saith the Lord” on how to spend your money, would you heed it? I’m telling you now, you do. When your husband has disallowed you to spend money in a certain way, it doesn’t matter who earned it. Our assets ultimately belong to the Lord, not to ourselves. In the same way, our husbands (as God-ordained rulers over us) gets to have the say on how we spend or save our finances.
These are just a few examples of how our view of our husbands may be skewed by our society. It’s time for us to break away from the dishonoring habits of our culture and instead grasp on to the life the Lord wishes for us to lead. This means in many ways, dying to self.
Maybe you can’t stand the thought of “catering to your husband’s every whim”. Maybe your husband is the biggest jerk in town, and you despise him. I feel so sorry for women who find themselves in this situation, but we must still stand by what the Bible says. A woman who is married to an unkind man will have a heavier cross to bear, but through Christ she can gain the victory.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. – Luke 6:32
We are to show love to our husbands at all times, whether or not they have shown us love, or we regard them as “deserving”.
…I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. – 2 Corinthians 12:15
Did you catch that? “GLADLY be spent for you”…even though the more I love you the less I am loved?? Oh, but if only this were the attitude of every wife, divorce would scarcely be heard of. Instead, we are so selfish much of the time, and that is what gets us in to so much trouble! The carnal world says “do unto others as they have done unto you”, but this is not the way of the Lord’s people. A christian woman will be subdued to her husband even if he is unkind, uncaring, or insensitive. She will do the right thing, because she knows that she must only take accountability for her own behavior, not her husband’s.
If we buckle under the authority of our husbands, surely we will not be able to withstand the firm authority of God. We must learn how to be completely subdued under our husband’s hand, or we will never learn to be subdued to Christ.
When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve. – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms (1929)
A man needs a wife who is serving, not selfish.
Matrimonial Mishap # 3: Spitefulness
There are women who are naïve about their husband’s needs. There are women who are indifferent about their husband’s needs. Even more shameful than these are the women who are hateful and vindictive about their husband’s needs.
When Love is suppressed Hate takes its place. – Havelock Elliss (1937)
Men [and women] are more prone to revenge injuries than to requite kindnesses. – Thomas Fuller (1732)
Sadly, many times when a wife neglects her husband, it results in him falling out of love and/or finding a new flame. Now I do not commend this, but I am not here to preach to husbands. I am here to help wives to do their part in preventing such events. Each of us can only do our best in marriage and the other spouse has to take responsibility for their own actions.
When a woman has turned a blind eye to her husband’s needs for so long, she will come to completely resent him and forget why she married him in the first place. That silly young wife who did not study her husband and learn how to please him will become more and more selfish until one day she is a spiteful, bitter old nag bent on “getting even” with her friend-turned-enemy. Satan will not neglect to use this bitterness to rip apart a marriage.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. – Romans 12:19
We must remember that we are one with our spouse, so the shots we fire at our husbands will certainly do us harm as well. When we isolate ourselves from our husbands and play childish games we are not so much hurting him as we are hurting ourselves.
A man [or woman] that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. – Francis Bacon (1625)
It is folly to punish your neighbor by fire when you live next door. – Publilius Syrus (1st C. B.C. 910)
If we say we love our husbands but harbor spitefulness in our hearts, we are kidding ourselves. In the words of the classic Led Zeppelin hit “Stairway to Heaven”, let each of us endeavor “to be a rock, and not to roll.” We are going to experience hardship in our marriages, it’s true. Yet because of our Lord, we can find the strength to carry on. That’s what love does best.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown,
Although his height be taken.
– William Shakespeare
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it… – Song of Solomon 8:7a
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. – Peter Ustinov (1958)
A man needs a wife who is sympathetic, not spiteful.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? – Romans 8:35
Remember, the way we honor our husbands is a direct reflection of our honor for God. Try putting your husband in this verse, as husbands are to be to wives as Christ in the flesh:
What will separate me from my husband? Will hard times, depression, arguments, financial hardship, lack of material items, frustrating moments, or divorce separate me from him? Say it with me, a resounding NO! None of these things will separate me from my husband…he is the love of my life, my leader, my king. I will not be moved by silliness, selfishness, or spitefulness. I will follow my husband all the days of my life!
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1963)
The course of true love never did run smooth. – William Shakespeare
For God’s Glory,
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.