He was a workaholic and a sportsaholic, when he wasn’t working. She waited.
And then there was his beloved restoration project of that ‘65 Mustang. She smiled. “It looks nice” she would say . . . as she waited.
Months went by of leaving home early, working late, and then working on that golf swing on the weekend – Hey, it’s important! Right? . . . still waiting.
And then, helping people – that’s important, too.
She waited patiently for him to engage, to connect, but hope was lost somewhere between the latest triumph at work and his team going to the Super Bowl.
Yeah . . . there was a vague sense that she’s feeling a little passed over. Time to act. Time to “make it right”. Time to make the big gesture to get her to lighten up a little and smile again. The foolish husband thinks grand gestures and lavish gifts will make up for his general lack of attentiveness. Although she’ll accept them (at first), they will never make up for what isn’t being given.
The expensive bracelet was nice. The cruise was nice. The big party was nice but, they weren’t “him” and, there’s no substitute – none – for “him”. Like a person who can’t tell the difference between organic, unpasteurized honey and artificial sweetener, it’s a distinction lost on the foolish husband.
That’s not you, is it? . . . thinking gifts and big gestures are a substitute for not prioritizing your wife’s heart above all else? And, if you’re a Christian husband, spare me the righteous protest, “Oh, but God’s first!” Because, if God was really first, you’d do what He said. And in His Word, He made it clear to those claiming to be Christians – The way Jesus loves the Church is the way God wants you to love your bride (read – re-read – Ephesians 5). So, how are you doing with that?
Many think that, having neglected one’s wife for months at a time, compensation can be made by making “the big move.” But it never works because, in the end, while she may enjoy sitting on the deck of the cruise ship sipping a piña colada and soaking up the sun, she knows she’s being bribed.
And, she doesn’t want to be bribed.
She wants to be loved.
And love is about relationship.
And you can’t have a relationship with a reclining deck chair somewhere on the high seas.
The simpleton pursues his own interests but tells himself, “My wife will always be there for me.” He’s too focused on his own desires, interests, and pursuits to realize the secrets of her heart were spirited away from him long ago and her body is soon to follow.
No woman ever slams the door of her heart in one moment. It closes incrementally over time as her heart is constantly pitted against a selfish husband’s interests . . . and loses. As what truly matters to him becomes increasingly clear to her over time – not from his words but from his actions – she has to do something to protect what’s left of her heart and a closed door with a secure lock is a viable option to her wounded spirit.
The star shooting through space and the marriage of a spouse pursuing his own interests without regard to his wife are alike. They both burn brightly on their own for a short time and then, all is dark. If you take your wife for granted, sooner or later, she’ll be tempted to find someone who will take her for what she is – a woman who needs love.
Maybe she’d never follow through. Maybe you’re married to a woman who is willing to white-knuckle the marriage – lucky you, but no good man would ever risk it. And no Christian man has the right to treat his wife with such selfish disregard. If you are a Christian, you absolutely will be held to account for how you cared for, nurtured, and protected your wife’s heart.
The quality of your love for her is seen and felt by her according to what you do, consistently over time. No grand gesture is ever enough to make up for neglect. The valued woman enjoys her husband’s grand gestures and big gifts but, she has no need of them as evidence of his love for her. That evidence is given every day in the attention he gives to her as a person, a lover, and as a friend.
The wise husband understands that what she really desires is him, in full measure, and he gives himself willingly, mind, body, and soul . . . and time.
Help me to remember that wife should never have to compete with anything for my attention, time, and love – that if she ever has to, I’m walking in sin. Give me insight and understanding when she starts to feel this way and the conviction to correct my thinking and choices that led us there. I pray for your protection over our marriage and ask for the continuing wisdom to lead her lovingly.
Conversation Starter: Ask Your Wife . . . Have you ever felt like you had to compete for my time and attention with anything or anyone else in in my life? Is there anything currently in our marriage that makes you feel that way?
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Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).