We were sitting in a rickshaw, heading back to our guest house, when he finally said, “May I have your number?…" I had been waiting for him to ask! My heart soared, the birds sang, and just before the violins could kick into action, he continued , “… as my sister in Christ.” I plummeted back to land with a loud thud. Sister? He went on to say how he wanted to have proper boundaries. I was shocked. I had never met a guy like him.
It’s been four years since we are married and, at times, I find myself wondering if my husband really loves me. In fact, these last couple of days this thought has been the front and center in my mind. This morning a friend came to my house with a bruised eye, sore arm, and pain in her back. Her husband had gotten drunk and hit her. Did I have any reason to doubt my husband’s love?
After our little one was born, one morning before going to work, my husband changed our daughter’s diaper and fed her breakfast (well, half of it). He had woken up before us. As I was sleepily opening and closing my eyes, unable to keep them open for too long, I saw him slowly shut his eyes, indicating I should go back to sleep. I happily obliged, and took a few more minutes before waking up. It was a little past twelve by the time we’d landed back in bed last night, and I was still tired. I’m certain my husband must have been tired too, but he didn’t complain. Are the occurrences of that morning a definition of love? Was his attempt at waking me up yesterday with a foot massage, while I pretended to be fast asleep, love?
Then there was the time when my dad was admitted in the hospital for a triple bypass surgery and someone confused my husband to be my mom’s son because of how helpful he was. Recently, he was a big support to my sister as she went through a challenging time. Is all this love? Yes, isn’t it? I almost hope not, because this sort of love doesn’t sufficiently appeal to my imagination. This is so… boring… very helpful, yet boring! Love should be magnificent, larger than life, memorable… unreal? For some time now, I’ve been forced to rethink my definition of love. Often, more often than I’d like to admit, I complain to my husband about how he’s not loving. And yet, I can’t deny that his actions prove a deeper kind of love than what I’m talking about- than what I’ve been dreaming about. My husband helps around the house, he goes to work, he’s an involved dad, and he’ll even help out in the kitchen-oats and poached eggs are his speciality. Yes, he is loving.
But I could so easily ruin our marriage if I try to make an idealized notion of romanticism a reality in our life. If I equate love to watching beautiful sunsets together, I’ll overlook the times my husband changes stinky diapers. If love is sending cheesy text messages, I’ll ignore the egg white omelettes he’s made fir breakfast. If love is the gooey stuff of novels and the drama of movies, I’ll miss out on the countless small expressions of love which keep our house running and our marriage functioning.
There was a time when I thought our marriage wouldn’t make it. I was certain my husband’s struggle with pornography would ruin our marriage; but now I realize more than the pornography itself, my response to it could have ruined our marriage. If he slipped, he would confess it to me, and, at times, my tongue would dart like Satan’s- spewing condemnation and disgust. But thankfully he always confessed to God, accepted His forgiveness and moved on victoriously; with his head held high. He actively sought help from friends and mentors, and today his pornography addiction is well behind us. At times, I wish I had demonstrated Christ-like love to him when he needed it. But thankfully every day is a new opportunity to be loving.
The longer I am married, the more I realise that our deepest need for love is not met in our spouse, but in God. If I keep looking for my husband to give me the love only God can, our marriage will always seem lacking. When I am secure in God, I am free to give and receive love. Another huge road block in our marriage is my pride. Just recently I noticed how pride hinders real intimacy. A couple of days ago, my husband had a long day at work and I really wanted him to come home and spend time with me. He was forty-five minutes late. When he came home, the only thing I said was, “Don’t talk to me.” I could have told him I missed him and I was so happy he was back home, but that would be too… needy? Nope. I went with the angry mask instead. That evening went horribly. How much better would it be to be real, to be vulnerable, to ask for what we need?
In light of all these evidence, it is fair to conclude that my husband loves me. Every day he chooses to die to himself- like Christ died for us- and to love on my daughter and me. Often, I am disgruntled by the absence of a fairy tale, but today I am thankful for my husband’s demonstration of Christ-like love. I hope to be able to love like him; like my heavenly Father.