Early in my marriage to my wife Dawn, I had many, many opinions. I had so many opinions I almost couldn’t hear anyone else speak, and I sincerely believed that my 21-year-old self was almost always right in them. This likely made me a difficult man to be married to. My poor wife had to hear my opinions on almost everything. At the time, she didn’t have many opinions, so to compensate for this, I would make ones up for her. It was that bad! There were even times I would argue her opinion (against myself) that I made up for her.
It was obvious that I had two problems.
My first problem was that I had a mouth that was out of control. I just couldn’t keep it shut. It was as if I believed that life needed a commentator and God had personally asked me to fill everyone in on what was happening. Rather than just enjoy the moment, I had to constantly talk about everything that was happening around me. It wasn’t gossip or being loud, I think I just liked the sound of my own voice. It was arrogance rearing it's ugly head.
My other problem was my ego. It had convinced me that my 21-year-old self had somehow figured out all the secrets of everything in life. You name it, I had already thought it through and argued it over in my mind. So, I was always ready at a moment’s notice, with the only possible answer the human race was waiting for me to share. How had my head become so big that it no longer appeared in a mirror so that I could see who I truly was?
After about five years of excessive communication and too many thoughts, my wife suddenly started to get her own opinion and began to express it. This sent our marriage and my ego into a tailspin. Suddenly, this wonderful woman who constantly put up with my ongoing thoughts about literally everything was now starting to speak up. How could this be? Why would she need to have an opinion when I had already decided on what we believed as a couple? My ego was shattered as she valiantly rose up and became the person God intended for her to be. Our marriage was in trouble, and I was in desperate need of a personality overhaul. That’s when I started to ask God to change me. He did, one stubborn day and opinion at a time.
Fortunately, God’s grace rescued me and my marriage from utter devastation. He began to give me small amounts of humble pie to eat and then eventually I had my face in the whole thing. How did he do it? How did he change me? God allowed me to start seeing that my wife was brilliant, filled with wisdom and a gift to our marriage so that we could live a balanced and full life together. So many times, I would snap to a decision and make a call or want to go a direction, but my wife would share her wisdom and together we watched situations unfold that often proved she was right. What did she have that I didn’t have? God revealed to me that she had discernment in certain areas that I lacked, and if I wanted to avert much pain in life from regretting ignorant decisions I had made, then I would need to listen to her counsel with an open heart.
It’s been 21 years since then. Over and over again, throughout the past 26 years of marriage, I have realized that the greatest gift God has given me is this amazing partner and friend. She is on my side and has my back but will call out the truth whether I want to hear it or not. I love that. That was exactly what my heart and mind needed all along.
So, what did I learn through this process of controlling my mouth and my opinions?
1. We fall in love but God puts us on a team.God knew I needed her strengths to compensate for my weaknesses.
2. Good listeners often have great marriages.The more I have learned to listen the stronger our bond has become. In James 1:19 it says,” Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” This has become the mantra that I strive to live by and one of our marriage life verses.
3. Four eyes and ears are better than one mouth.Having the perspective and wisdom from two people will always trump a mouth that rushes to quick opinions.
4. Humility will grow a marriage into a deep, fulfilling love affair. Humility grows mutual respect and also gives love a chance to mature in the fertile ground of trust.
5. Passion means nothing without compassion and grace. When we have compassion, and demonstrate grace it shows that our love is genuine and not for us alone.
Now, many years later, I couldn’t be more grateful for the wise woman and leader that I am privileged to call wife and friend. My wife is a gift and so is yours. Treat her like one and you will be a blessed husband and man!
Ephesians 5:28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.