Life can be hard. But what we usually mean is that our life can be hard. We’re the first to feel it when we’re the ones being mistreated or inconvenienced. We’re quick to sulk when we’re the ones who feel deprived or unappreciated. When life is difficult for us, we notice.
But too often the only way we notice that life is hard for our mate is when they start complaining about it. Then instead of genuinely caring or rushing in to help, we might think they just have a bad attitude. The pain and pressure they’re under don’t register with us the way it does when it’s our pain and pressure. When we want to complain, we expect everyone to understand and feel sorry for us.
This doesn’t happen when love is at work. Love doesn’t have to be jarred awake by your mate’s obvious signs of distress. Before worries and troubles have begun to bury them, love has already gone into action mode. It sees the weight beginning to pile up and it steps in to help. That’s because love wants you to be sensitive to your spouse.
Love makes sacrifices. It keeps you so tuned in to what your spouse needs that you often respond without being asked. And when you don’t notice ahead of time and must be told what’s happening, love responds to the heart of the problem.
Even when your mate’s stress comes out in words of personal accusation, love shows compassion rather than becoming defensive. Love inspires you to say “no” to what you want, in order to say “yes” to what your spouse needs.
That’s what Jesus did. “He laid down His life for us” to show us that “we should also lay down our lives” for others. He taught us that the evidence of love is found in seeing a need in others, then doing all we can to satisfy it. “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me” (Matthew 23:35-36).
These are the types of needs you should be looking for in your wife or husband. Instead of sitting around upset that they’re not treating you the way you think they should, let love pick you up out of your self-pity and turn your attention to their needs.
Is he “hungry” – needing you sexually, even when you don’t feel like it?
Is she “thirsty” – craving the time and attention you seem to be able to give everyone else?
Does he feel like a “stranger” – insecure in his work, needing home to be a refuge and sanctuary?
Is she “naked” – frightened or ashamed, desperate for the warm covering of your loving affirmation?
Is he feeling “sick” – physically tired and needing you to help guard him from interruptions?
Does she feel in “prison” – fearful and depressed, needing some safety and intervention?
Love is willing to make sacrifices to see that the needs of your spouse are given your very best effort and focus. When your mate is overwhelmed and under the gun, love calls you to set aside what seems so essential in your own life to help, even if it’s merely the gift of a listening ear.
Often all they really need is just to talk this situation out. They need to see in your two attentive eyes that you truly care about what this is costing them, and you’re serious about helping them seek answers. They need you to pray with them about what to do, and then keep following up to see how it’s going.
The words “How can I help you?” need to stay fresh on your lips.
The solutions may be simple and easy for you to do, or they may be complex and expensive, requiring time, energy and great effort. Either way, you should do whatever you can to meet the real needs of the one who is a part of who you are. After all, when you help them, you are also helping yourself. That’s the beautiful part of sacrificing for your spouse. Jesus did it for us. And He extends the grace to do it for others.
When the New Testament believers began to walk in love, their lives together were marked by sharing and sacrifice. Their heartbeat was to worship the Lord and to serve His people. “All those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have “need” (Acts 2:44-45). As Paul said to one of these churches in a later decade, “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15). Lives that have been raised from death by Jesus sacrifice should be ready and willing to make daily sacrifices to meet the needs of others.
What is one of the greatest needs in your spouse’s life right now? Is there a need you could lift from their shoulders today by a daring act of sacrifice on your part? Whether the need is big or small, purpose to do what you can to meet the need.
"The solutions may be simple and easy for you to do, or they may be complex and expensive, requiring time, energy and great effort. Either way, you should do whatever you can to meet the real needs of the one who is a part of who you are. After all, when you help them, you are also helping yourself."
When I was growing up and was in and out of different relationships my happiness always seemed to be based on what my significant other was doing for me ME happy. Was he paying attention to me enough? Did he make me feel safe? Was he affection enough in public towards me? Everything seemed to be about what the other person could bring to our relationship to hold me there. I made it very clear if that person failed then I would not be sticking around and would find someone who would so I did not have to sacrifice myself.
Of course looking back at that behavior I realize now how selfish I really was and how absurd and immature it was for me to think that way. (My hubby thinks I am a handful now, it is a GOOD thing he did not know me then.) It's really embarrassing to look back on.
When I got married I told myself I was going to make it work, no matter what. This WAS going to be my last relationship and I was not going to put my kids through another divorce. I was going to be married till death do us part. Even though we said our vows in front of a judge I said them in front of God.
It took me some years of growing to really understand how to love my hubby. I really had to let go of all my wants and expectations and just give in to unconditional love. I had to keep telling myself that me giving in on this argument, or getting past this hurt would get me one step closer to the life I have always wanted to live and have the love I always dreamed of having. I just prayed to have the strength to get through one more day and one more event that was threatening to tear us apart.
I began to love differently. I began to do things above and beyond for my hubby in hopes to not only please him but to demonstrate the kind of love I wanted. It really is true when you can give up yourself and do for others you will feel better. To me, this is God's way of teaching us how to love as HE loves us.
My hubby is a complicated man. There are days I think I am on target with giving him attention and showing him the love he wants but can find out that I was no where near the target. Then there are days where I can see my love fill him and he makes changes in himself to please me and to be a better man. We are all struggling in the ins and outs of life. Trying to find our place, the meaning for us being here and trying to maintain some happiness along the way. I truly believe if we allow ourselves to let go to love and sacrifice the way Jesus did for us then our struggles will be over.
I am no where near perfect and I am far beyond an expert at loving my hubby but I am still here, I am still working towards it and I still love this man with all my heart.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)