June 11, 1988




Value your wife above everything all earthly things.

Adapted from “I Married Wonder Woman, Now What?”

     I married my wife because I couldn’t imagine ever finding her equal. I was in love, and I was also impressed. Her value was so clear that there was no way I was going to let her get away if I could do anything about it. I began with the perspective Adam had toward Eve when he first laid eyes on her: Wow! Long red hair, a natural, earthy style, and mischievous brown eyes that said, if you can’t take a joke, you’re going to regret ever meeting me. I certainly didn’t know God’s will for my life the first time I saw her, but I thought I knew my will for my life. As Wayne said of Cassandra in Wayne’s World, “She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine.”

     Proverbs 18:22 states, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.” God’s plan is to bless us men through this good thing. I had no doubt that this young lady was a very good thing! And just having her would be favor enough. It seemed that every time we were around each other her value to me grew. In fact I had seven years to confirm that she was valuable as she mostly ignored me. Well ignored may be too strong: the thesaurus says disregarded, overlooked, or bypassed would be equally descriptive. Just pick one. The point is I finally caught her, and the compliment of my life was that she traded all her other options (and they were numerous) for me.

     A strong beginning like we had is not terribly unusual though. Unfortunately however, over time, we men often fade in our enthusiasm as other things compete for our attention. Our “good thing” becomes part of the everyday scenery and values become relative. Not intentionally usually, and not because the “good thing” has stopped being good in itself. But life is a sneaky thing, you have to watch it every minute or stuff happens. Stuff that makes you go to counseling and sit there with your arms crossed, trying to sound like you’re not the one with the problem. Stuff that end marriages with both sides just sure it was the other’s fault.

     We get distracted from pursuing our spouse’s full potential rather easily. It’s like investing in a house expecting it to appreciate, but never spraying for termites, painting, roofing and doing all the other smart things. Then one day, surprise... you’re the one bringing down the neighborhood property values. Sort of like the guy in Luke 14 who started a project he couldn’t afford to finish and was ridiculed for poor planning. That’s just as possible with our marriages if we stop seeing the value of continuing to invest in our wives.


     In the epic movie Braveheart, when as a boy, William Wallace is standing by his father's grave, the little girl, Murrin, gave him a thistle. Years later when Wallace returns (all grown up into Mel Gibson) he begins their courtship by giving her back the thistle pressed flat in a book. Boy did he make an impression. She knew immediately what kind of a man he had grown into. A man who would guard such a small thing simply because it came from her, could certainly be trusted with something of real value – her love.

     Unfortunately, in their case, things didn't work out so great and he had to kill half of England, but that's not the point. The point is that he was faithful in a little thing and was rewarded with something much greater.

     There’s a lot to be said for the small things. Most of a fulfilling marriage is made up of the small things. Things like daily courtesies, quick apologies, spontaneous affection; sacrifices of time and personal preferences; routine conversations over meals or before bed; ignoring idiosyncrasies and annoying habits. Many couples can weather the big stuff, but few enjoy the quality only the small stuff allows.

How Devotionals Almost Broke up my Marriage

     My wife and I came from very different spiritual backgrounds … and temperaments … and expectations. A bit of the “opposites attract” thing. So of course when we got married the idea of devotionals had totally different meanings for each of us. I was pretty much the straightforward Evangelical of the crowd: we get up early (like Jesus), we read a passage of Scripture (like Jesus), we pick the one verse that we think God wrote just for us (like Jesus), and then we share how we will incorporate that verse into our lives (like Jesus). Then we write everything down in a journal, so we can look back over our lives to celebrate God’s faithfulness.

     But Anne was from a more “charismatic” point of view. She didn’t mind getting up early, but she wanted to sing, then pray, then read, then write a song about what she read. And maybe do it all while walking vigorously through the woods. What a waste of time! Half of it was of no value and the rest was completely out of order.  But of course she couldn’t see that. She couldn’t see how effective and purposeful my way was.

Conflict ensued, but quietly, because this was our “Quiet Time”. We both began to dread devotionals – morning or otherwise – but I felt that to be the spiritual leader meant I had to keep trying, even though she clearly wasn’t following me. Finally, I decided we would each do our own thing. I would just have to wait till God straightened her out if we wanted to have devotionals together. Twenty-four years, three CDs, and a music ministry later, she is still writing songs from her time in the scripture and I have published two books that came from writing in my journal. We learned that not everything – even “spiritual” activities – required us to do them as a couple. Our marriage was founded on Christ and our love, not on any specific regime.

     Here is the danger I discovered as a new husband: assuming God is “on your side” just because you are the man. Being a leader approved by God is different from being a leader put in a position by God (think kings of the Old Testament). I was determined that I not fail as Anne’s spiritual leader, but I was unimaginative, inflexible, and unteachable. Because I occupied a God-given position, I figured He was obligated to bless my decisions as long as they weren’t clearly unbiblical. Not so much, as it turned out. He wants us each to grow as individuals and as a couple. Sometimes, when God is training a spiritual leader, He will let us fall on our faces because we can see Him better from that position.

I’m Drawing a Blank

     Men, fill in this blank: “Women are _________.” Too broad? Try this one: “American women are ________.” Still nothing?

        “Southern women are ________.”

        “Women in a 50-mile radius are __________.”

     If you can fill in any of those blanks accurately you are a smarter man than I. The best I can do are a few broad generalizations that aren’t necessarily helpful with the problem I have – “My wife is ________.” That’s the puzzle I have to solve, the adventure I am called to, the Ph.D. I am supposed to be working toward.

     I do like generalizations though. They give some kind of framework to begin, but they can be misleading too. No one fits into any category neatly and cleanly. And assuming your wife fits into a particular mold is going to cause you problems. Your wife is not going to be like her mother, at least not entirely. And she definitely isn’t going to be like your mother. Whatever you and I start with in our imagination about being married – and we all start with something – that person across the breakfast table is going to poke you right in your mind’s eye.

     I’ve read a lot of books on marriage, and there are some great ones out there. I encourage you to read a lot of them, because no single one is going to nail it down for you. I remember one book that liked to use lists to describe the “typical man” and “most women” and got discouraged when I saw more stuff on “her” list that applied to me than to her. I liked affection, I wanted to be listened to without her trying to fix anything, I liked financial security! And my wife found herself on the “man’s” list too: hard to share her feelings, likes to work outside, doesn’t know when to tell her friends to leave, etc. Not a very neat and clean fit for either of us.

     Read, study, think, pray is the best suggestion I have when it comes to filling in the blanks about your own wife. Start with the Scriptures since God designed people. Then survey your friends for the best books they’ve read. Look for an older couple who can pass along wisdom only time offers. And above all study your wife! Take notes! She’s definitely going to be on the final exam.

If a husband complains about credit card bills, he's normal. If he complains about the one from Victoria's Secret, he's a moron.

Note to Self: Getting in touch with my “feminine side” is a waste of time; I should be getting in touch with my wife's feminine side.

We must often be contradicted if we are to understand ourselves. This is why God created marriage.

Become a fan before a critic. Assume the best, praise the most, defend that fastest, forgive the quickest.