The book, “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman (which has sold over 11 million copies) can be a wonderful tool to help us better understand our husbands and ourselves. It has been a blessing to countless marriages and he has written a number of books in the same vein that have helped many people, as well.
The five love languages Chapman writes about are:
- Words of affirmation.
- Quality time.
- Receiving gifts.
- Acts of service.
- Physical touch.
From my perspective, it is ideal if both spouses seek to show all of these kinds of love to each other. There are always ways we can grow in showing love.
The book is most helpful, in my view, if we approach the issue like this:
- X is my husband’s love language, so I am going to learn to start speaking love to him in ways that are more meaningful to him.
- I also can begin to receive the love language my husband speaks and learn to receive love from him the way he tries to show love.
I have no problem with a wife respectfully asking for what she would like at appropriate times (without making demands or pressuring her husband):
- Honey, it would mean so much to me if we could spend 30 minutes together tonight talking about our day. I feel so emotionally connected to you when we do that.
- When you share words of affirmation with me, when you tell me when you see me doing something well, or you share verbal appreciation, that really makes me feel loved.
- I am so excited that you got me a new coffee table! It is beautiful! I feel SO loved when you pick out a sweet gift for me.
- Babe, I appreciate it so much when you take the trash out when it starts to get full.
- I love when we get a chance to cuddle at night and when you play with my hair and show me a lot of physical affection.
However, a pitfall I have seen for some wives (with this or almost any book that talks about marriage) is that it can be tempting to start thinking things like:
- X is my love language, and my husband isn’t speaking my love language.
- My husband needs to start doing what I want him to do or he isn’t loving me enough and he isn’t being a good husband.
- It is my husband’s job to make me happy. He is responsible for my emotions and for me feeling loved enough.
- If my husband won’t speak my love language when and how I want him to, I’m justified in feeling resentful and bitter.
- I may even feel justified to sin against my husband if he doesn’t show me love exactly the way I would like for him to.
The enemy would love to use anything, even a great book with many biblical truths, as a springboard to sinful thoughts in our lives. How we must guard our hearts!
CHERISHING RESENTMENT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION
It is very easy to focus on what we want our husbands to do to change. But when we do that, we begin to set up a bunch of expectations – some of which may not be very realistic. Unrealistic expectations invariably lead to resentment. And once we are cherishing resentment and bitterness, we tend to believe we can justify practically any sin against our men. This sin, when it is unchecked, snowballs and gets worse and worse. We may engage in things like:
- speaking words of death
- a critical spirit
- assuming the worst
- idolatry of my husband – expecting him to be responsible for meeting my deepest needs
- idolatry of my happiness
- divisiveness (trying to pit other people, maybe our children and extended family, against him)
- malice (wishing pain/hurt/injury on someone)
- maybe even violence
- divorce threats
- potentially, an unbiblical divorce
Once we get into this mode, we are operating in the fruit of the flesh rather than the fruit of the Spirit. It is a recipe for pain and misery. For our husbands. For our marriages. For our children. And for ourselves.
TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN CHRIST LEADS TO ABUNDANT SPIRITUAL LIFE
I know this is not a popular thing in our culture. But when I try to make my husband, my children, or anyone else responsible for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing – I am living in a dysfunctional relationship – or sin. This goes by several names:
- being enmeshed
- being codependent
- idolizing my husband (or other people)
- idolizing emotions
- idolizing happiness
- people pleasing
- having an unhealthy relationship
As a believer in Christ, my spiritual wellbeing is dependent on my relationship with Jesus alone. I am responsible for abiding in Him and being filled up with Him. I am personally responsible for confessing any sin and for finding my contentment in Jesus alone. I know that if I am experiencing the fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:18-21) – it is about my character and my walk with the Lord. And I know that if I want to live in the power of His Spirit and have His fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)- that I am responsible to the Lord for turning away from every sinful thing and for yielding myself to the Lordship of Christ.
The way I act, the way I treat my husband (and other people), is about whether my sinful old flesh is in control or whether God’s Spirit is in control of my life at this moment.
In Jesus, I can be content in all circumstances – whether I am receiving love in exactly the way I would prefer or not – through Him who gives me strength (Phil. 4:12-13).
ASKING GOD TO CHANGE ME, MY PERSPECTIVE, AND MY HEART
It’s easy to pray, “God, change my husband!” And there are times when it is right to pray for our husbands to change – to have God’s victory over sin, to have more of His Spirit, to have His wisdom, etc…
But there is such a need for us to first pray most fervently, “Lord, change me!”
If my husband can’t or won’t change or won’t do what I would like for him to do, I can still live in the power of the Spirit. I can still live in God’s peace, joy, patience, and self-control. I can focus on the things God calls me to change – myself. And trust God to work on the things I can’t change – my husband.
I can invite the Spirit to work powerfully in me, my my marriage, and in my husband’s life for His glory, not for my own will. Here are some examples of how a wife might approach this issue in prayer:
- Lord, help me learn to appreciate and receive the ways my husband does show love to our children and me.
- He fixed the sump pump last week. THAT was real love right there. I can receive that act of service as a massive gift of love for me and our family.
- He went with me somewhere even though it wasn’t his favorite place. That was a gift to me.
- He asked my son to send a picture of my grocery list when he stopped by Walmart and he picked up everything on the list. Wow! He is my hero!
- He took all of us to the movies over break. He is so generous. What a thoughtful gift.
- He helped me take my car to the shop today.
- He replaced my dead car battery last month.
- He takes the kids to church on Wednesday nights when I am at work.
- He sits on the outside of the pew at church on Sunday mornings so that he can try to protect us from harm if something were to happen.
- Lord, help me not get so fixated on “my love language” and what I want that I miss the beautiful ways my husband expresses his love to me and to our children.
- Lord, my husband isn’t as verbal as I would like. He only gives me a compliment once every year or two. I really love words of affirmation. But maybe You have things for me to learn in this situation. Help me to be open to receiving the lessons and spiritual growth that I can receive from You as I have a husband who is not super verbal. Help me realize that even though words of affirmation are beautiful and powerful, the way my husband shows love to me and our children is just as beautiful and powerful – maybe even more so.
- Would words of affirmation have been as helpful when the sump pump was messed up and the toilets wouldn’t flush? No, not really. I do like having toilets that flush!
- Maybe giving gifts is not my love language, but look at all of the thought and research my husband put into the gifts he gave our children, our extended family, and me. He is SO talented at that! It is not my gifting. But I can certainly appreciate that it is his gifting.
- Maybe my husband doesn’t write me love letters or send loving/flirty texts or emails. I would like it if he did that. But he comes home every night and eats with our family. He is a good provider and a hard worker. He tries to protect us spiritually, financially, emotionally, and physically when there is danger.
- He doesn’t give me a lot of compliments, but he also doesn’t give me much criticism. That is sure a blessing!
- Lord, help me to learn to give love (and respect – because feminine respect speaks love so powerfully to men) to my husband in the ways that matter most to him. And if something I do to show him love doesn’t really do much for him, help me to see how I can change my approach.
- Lord, thank You for my husband. He is a gift to me from You. I’m going to write down all of the good things I can think about regarding his character and the things he has done for my children and for me in my quiet time this week.
- Lord, help me to be a blessing to my husband simply out of a desire to please and honor You.
How has God spoken to you in this post or about these issues in the past? You are welcome to share insights you have learned or struggles you are having so that we might encourage and pray for you.