August 25, 2016 | By Brent Hall
Building a great marriage and establishing a family is not easy work. We cannot be lazy and passive if we desire a thriving home. Marriage and family are not for the faint of heart or the foolish. The wise man of Proverbs says, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:3-4). The sage is speaking of so much more than building a material house; he’s referring to the building of an immaterial home, a strong family. Just like building a house, a strong and established family takes intentionality and wisdom.
One thing that separates the wise from the fool is having understanding to realize that their spouse is uniquely wired and has unique needs. The loving spouse not only recognizes this, but makes sacrifices in order to serve and meet those needs for the good of the person, marriage, and family. In other words, the wise person studies and learns their spouse, and the loving person puts that wisdom into action. Studying one’s spouse and putting it into action is a lifetime pursuit, but here are three things that we should learn about our spouse immediately:
1) When is a good time to talk to your spouse about a subject?
If you learn your spouse, you will learn that there are good and bad times to bring up certain topics. My wife has learned me well enough to know not to bring up bills just before bed. I’m usually not in a good place emotionally for such a conversation. In the same way, I’ve learned with Danielle not to bring up errands that need to get done for the day when she first gets out of bed. We both need our morning cup of coffee before we engage in such conversations. If you need to bring up a blood-pressure-rising topic, when is the best time to broach the subject with your spouse?
2) How can you let your spouse know you appreciate him or her?
We all have things that push our buttons and we all have things that speak our love-language. These things are unique to all of us. It’s important that you learn what most makes your spouse feel valued by you. In his timeless book, The 5 Love-Languages, Gary Chapman suggests there are five expressions of love: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Each person has a primary love language (one of the five). We might think that our spouse’s love language is the same as ours, but this is usually not the case. Therefore, we must learn from our spouse what makes them feel most valued.
3) How does your spouse best connect with God?
Sometimes we assume that the way we best connect with God is the way our spouse best connects with God (we do this with others as well). However, there are many pathways for connecting with God. For some people it is waking up early and studying Scripture. For some it is enjoying nature and talking with Jesus. For others it is simply being around other Christians. All of these pathways are good for us, but the question is this: Which one works best for you and which one works best for your spouse? Chances are, what works best for you does not work best for your spouse. So, learn what spiritual pathway helps your spouse connect with God and encourage and support them. The most important relationship in your spouse’s life is not the one they have with you but the one they have with Jesus Christ! Encouraging the spiritual development of your spouse goes a long ways in establishing a well-built home.
Learn your spouse!