If you’re thinking of Goose and Mav, you’re getting my idea. How can we be our spouse’s “intimate ally”*? Get this: The word God used to describe Eve in the Bible (ezer) translated as helper—is most often used in the Bible as either as a term for a military ally…or for God Himself, helping us. Here are a few practical ideas—for husbands and wives–to act as your mate’s shield, advocate, and protector. (Like this? Be sure to check out 50 Ways to Inspire Your Wife and 50 Ways to Inspire Your Husband.)
- Protect her schedule. (When she feels the need, the need for speed. See what I did there?) If she has a hard time saying no, be the one to gently step in with a hand on her back and say, “Hey. I know you really want to/feel like you should do this. And I know you juggle a lot and do it well. But I think there are other people who can step in here/you should let this one go/this may chew up a lot of your margin. Your peace, and the peace of our home, is worth it to me. Think we can talk about this?”
- Shield him from…yourself. This is tricky. Last night after our guests went home, my introverted husband was looking a bit on the haggard side. But I had some doubts rattling around in my head. I believe 100% that marriage is “naked and unashamed”. However, you may also resonate with these thoughts on The Flipside of Being Myself. The main idea: “Being myself” doesn’t mean I vent all over my spouse, or say whatever pops into my head. I’m attempting (!) to use Ephesians 4:29 as the rule for what’s allowed out of my head: only what builds up, fits the occasion, and gives grace to the person I’m speaking to. Proverbs 31, too, speaks of a woman who has the rule of wisdom and kindness for her tongue. In this particular case, I spoke my mind…but when morning rolled around, I wasn’t thinking the time had been right. Sometimes shielding our spouse means saving thoughts for a more optimum time. (And sometimes it doesn’t.) It might also mean shielding him or her from our complaining. Nagging. Excuses. Venting. Inclination toward passivity. If you asked your spouse, what might they wish you shielded them from a little more often? What do they frequently absorb on your behalf?
- Step in with the kids. On my long days, sometimes one of the most meaningful ways my husband steps in is simply to deal with the kids’ bickering, disrespect, or simply the overwhelming tide of their needs. I admit to no small amount of delight when he tells them, “You don’t need your mom for that.”
- Prop him up with genuine wisdom. Being a sounding board is great—and sometimes we just don’t need help with “fixing.” But I personally love it when my husband does more than that: He points me toward courage with his frank wisdom that always makes him my first go-to with whatever I’m facing.
- Advocate for his gifts. I’ll always remember the day I arrived home from work to find a new music book propped on the piano from my husband, garnished with a note: Just because I love the way you’re made. Who’s the top lobbyist for your spouse’s unique gifting and interests? Are you plugging for her to take a night out to explore what she loves? Are you cheering him on to take that night class he’s been eyeing?
- Help protect your spouse’s mind and heart with meaningful sex. …’Nuff said.
- Protect her from her own mental “tapes.” You know the ones: The tapes that play over and over in her head, put there from her past experiences, her home of origin, herself. Sometimes they need some serious re-recording. (This applies for husbands, too.) This is going to sound nuts…but since I’ve been in a low place lately, I’ve been particularly susceptible to some of what I’ll call my pet lies: This is the only place you’re valuable. No one sees you. God cares about your holiness, but not how you feel. My body is so unattractive. I’ve had the odd thought that, like a massage, I wished I could have a sort of “truth spa”—a time when someone just kneaded the truth I needed to hear in my soul. Where over and over, someone just tenderly countered the particular lies attempting to swindle my mind, even if they were “Duh, George”-obvious. Sometimes we just need someone to retell us the truth. Put your foot down on untrue, unbiblical, non-godward self-talk. What we’re learning about neuroplasticity—the brain’s constant rewiring of itself—means that once we think something, it’s easier to think that thought, and go further with it, in the future. That puts extra meaning on taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). If one of you (or both of you) needs some counseling, shield your marriage and your spouse by getting the help you need! Imagine the life that can flow out of one person simply loving better—because they’ve finally addressed their issues.
- Protect him by telling him the truth. It’s no secret I’m a people-pleaser. But it’s easy for my desire to please–for the person to feel good, for us to have what looks like peace–to become loving those desires (aka myself) more than I care about the best for my spouse. Unfortunately, this means a spouse’s sin can go on being destructive. If you struggle to speak up, don’t miss this important post, Submission Isn’t Silent. You can read about how my husband set the tone for this in our marriage here.
- Be her ally in her difficult relationships. That’s not to say you need to help your spouse escape those relationships (though sometimes it’s invaluable to have a buffer who can say “no” when you just need a little space from relationships that are hard). But someone to help navigate, process, and knead God’s kindness and wisdom into your conflicts and losses? Priceless. (See a few more thoughts on managing conflict here.)
- Guard your relationship. What’s the one thing that might take more priority than your marriage? Or maybe–what’s the slow drain on your marriage, like time, kids, or jobs? Seriously consider what it would take to put your marriage and your spouse where they deserve. Is it a little more white space on the calendar? Finally addressing the conflict between you? Go the distance to let your spouse know, like any true wingman, that you’d put your “life”–in all senses of the word–on the line.
*Term accredited to Dr. Dan Allender.
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- The Thing Between Us
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- Love is the New Sexy
- The Next Great Love Story
- The Beautiful Blend