Before we got married, I had a pretty good idea of what a “good wife” looked like.
She’s always willing to serve, she has a permanent smile, she’s driven, she sets aside time for her husband, she gives him her best, she’d to anything for him, and the list goes on.
First off, that short little list is already daunting and unrealistic. And second off, it’s all wrong. They’re all wonderful things. But when I start creating a to-do list, I’m missing the complete point of what it means to be in a loving relationship.
It begins not with acts, but with the heart.
About a month ago, we got a puppy. I wasn’t so sure I wanted a puppy. But Kyle wanted him so badly, and he was so darn cute, so I decided to be a “good wife,” and I said yes. The first couple weeks were filled with a mixture of trying to love that adorable puppy and being angry at Kyle for talking me into it. I’d glare at that little furball as I was standing out in the dark waiting for him to go to the bathroom. I’d get back into bed, glare at Kyle, and finally fall back asleep. I was furious each time he peed on the carpet. He was surprisingly well-behaved from the start, but I was resistant. I was bitter. I didn’t want to love that puppy, and I wasn’t loving Kyle in the process.
One night Kyle set his alarm to quiet, and took both potty breaks that night. He said he could tell it stressed me out too much, so he’d start taking all the night shifts
I knew he wasn’t doing this out of spite, or to prove that he didn’t need me—he was doing it out of love. He didn’t have “taking the dog out at night” on his list of husbandly tasks. He saw a need, and he acted on it.
I felt so numb to everything that I let him take the night shifts for a few days. I processed things, and deep down I knew there was more to this than just letting him have his dog. I bought the dog, got his food and toys, took him out at night, and smiled and snapped a picture when he did something cute, but I was doing everything in my power to stop myself from loving him.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. —1 Corinthians 13:1-3
I may have been telling myself that I was being a good wife, but my heart wasn’t in it:
I can’t imagine having any other dog but Oakley—but I still have my days. I’m getting there. All of my natural tenancies are far from love: irritability, insisting on my own way, and so on. But I’m trying to continually love him out of my love for Kyle. He’s ours, we made a (15ish-year!) commitment to him, and he’s teaching me to love him even when he can’t give a whole lot in return.
I’ll never be perfect–heck, I don’t know if I’ll ever even be a “good wife,” whatever that means. But I do know I’m so thankful for grace. And I know that no to-do list will ever force me to love my husband. Well, maybe one short one: I can love, trust, hope, and persevere—even when I fail. Because even if I somehow complete all the items on my list, love never ends.