This is a condensed, or reworked, version of my blog from yesterday, and is written towards men to challenge them to be better husbands for the guys over at Blog of Manly.
“Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself.” -Soren Kierkegaard
On my right forearm, the lyrics to William Fitzsimmons’ song “Maybe Be Alright” are tattooed. It says, “Love can last if you only let it grow…” I have tried to live my marriage in such a way that I do not hinder love, but let it grow, let it flourish.
I believe that way too often we do things that hinder love and hinder growth. I believe that Soren Kierkegaard is right on the money with his quote. I believe the number one thing we do that smothers love and growth in marriage is to try to alter the Beloved.
We do not stop to think about changing ourselves, but attempt to make the other person change in order to conform to our version of who they should be!
My wife and I were quick to rush into marriage and love. We brought a lot of unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors into our marriage that caused us to spend the first year of our marriage in a 5 month therapy separation and several months of counseling.
I realized soon into my marriage that there had to be a death….the death of myself and my selfishness, my control issues. Steven Robinson wrote in his piece on Valentine’s Day, “Someone recently said of marriage that it is the only martyrdom in which you get to pick the instrument of your death. Of course it is not so much a physical death, though your physicality is a part of your sacrifice, but it is also the laying down of your ego, your self will, your time, your passions, your selfish desires… all the things that are ultimately harder to give up for the long haul than your physical life in a split second.”
Very early on in our marriage I was not letting love grow; I was smothering it. Very early on I tried to control my wife and to alter her, my Beloved.
By the grace of God, we made it through that hellish first year in tact and much stronger for it. Looking back in retrospect, I am grateful for having gone through it all.
As men, we should value honor, strength, integrity, and responsibility. I want to challenge all the husbands out there reading to pause and do some self-evaluation. Perhaps this means going to therapy to work through your personal issues; having that extra set of eyes and ears is not something of which we should be ashamed.
Men, stop and inspect your actions and your fostering of love within your marriages. Are you smothering it or allowing it to grow? Are you attempting to alter your Beloved and conform her to your ideal version of her or are you respecting her personhood and beautiful identity in Christ?
My challenge to you as a fellow man and fellow husband is to alter your self. Humble yourself and work on you. Become the man God intended you to be. Die to your self, your ego, your pride, your need to be right, and need to control. Humble yourself before God and your wife.
Alter not your wives, but yourselves, and I can promise you that your marriage will be a much more healthier marriage. You alone control how you respond, react, live, and love within your marriage. The ball is in your court.