The Sweet Christian Bride

Philippians 4:8 in Marriage: Admirable

by admin on August 30, 2012 in Faith, Spouse with No Comments

If you missed out on the intro to the Philippians 4:8 series, check it out here.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is ADMIRABLE—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

ADMIRABLE

Have you ever heard that illustration for marriage of the two hands?  If you put your hands up in front of you, one hand symbolizing you and the other, your spouse, you see obvious peaks and valleys made by your fingers.  When you clasp your hands together, however, all the valleys are filled in by the other hand’s peaks.

Our husbands bring so much strength into our marriage because they have peaks that fill in our valleys.  They are excellent in areas where we are not, and vice-versa.  Let’s praise them for their areas of excellence that we admire!

Admiring means “to regard with wonder, pleasure, or approval” or “excellent; first-rate.” 1  Usually we regard with wonder things so great that we can’t comprehend or replicate them.  We regard with pleasure things that bring us joy.  And we regard with approval things we value.  If you combine greatness, joy, and value, your result is something excellent or first-rate.  Admiration is merely an organic response to that excellence.  Why, then, is it so hard to admire our husbands?  If they weren’t excellent men, then we would not have chosen to spend forever with them.  Why the discrepancy?

1) Disillusionment: The longer we are married, presumably, the more deeply we will know our spouses.  As we come to learn the inner-workings of our spouses, we might feel that some of the mystery is spoiled—some of the wonder is diminished.  We know their weaknesses and faults.  We know the limitations to their strengths.  We know their insecurities that aren’t visible to others who esteem them.  Of course we want our husbands to be perfect superheros to us and to the world, but they never will be.  That does not, however, diminish their excellence.

Instead of focusing on “the man behind the curtain,” focus instead on the man who stepped out of the curtain.  Knowing the struggles that our men face every day and knowing their limitations and adversities can elevate the wonder of how they do what they do each day in spite of what they have had to work through to do it.  Let’s not taint our husbands’ successes with their failures, but instead let’s give them credit for shaping their successes out of failures.  The pursuit of excellence is a continual refining of faults, not an absence of them.

2) Fear: Most wives, if we are honest, fear chaos.  We want a plan, we want a leader who can execute that plan, and we want a team who can follow through on that plan.  Most importantly, we want to create the plan, be the leader, and be the team.  We want all things to be subject to our control because then we don’t need to fear anything going wrong or falling through the cracks; a part of us truly believes that, in general, we do things better than our spouses.

One of the subtle ways that we exert control over our husbands is by reserving our praise.  We think that if we praise them for a good thing they have done, then they will wallow in that praise forever, forgetting that there are forty other things we would like them to do better.  So we skip the praise and just remind them of the areas for improvement, in case they haven’t ascertained how important those things are to us.  In other words, we esteem our husbands based on their performances.

But when we stop praising, our wonder dies.  When our husbands succeed in areas we don’t value as much as the ones in which they are not succeeding, then we struggle to admire them because we are stuck on what is not rather than appreciating what is.   In order not to go crazy with chaos in these under-performed areas, we adapt our belief that they can do that task excellently and instead believe that we can do things better than they do.  This then bleeds from their areas of weaknesses into their areas of strengths, eventually sapping our admiration for them.  It’s a survival mechanism that doesn’t actually preserve anyone.

3) Insecurity: In our performance-based culture, we are used to competing with others to receive praise or reward.  When we don’t get it, it can feel like something is wrong with us.  To see our husbands excel in something, can sometimes feel less like a celebration for them and more like a jab against us.  Our identity is not secure, so we feel left behind and un-celebrated.  It’s not that we don’t want to cheer for our husbands and admire them, it’s that we can’t.  Without the perspective that our husbands successes reflect well on us, we will feel a constant wedge of competition that will keep us from expressing or feeling admiration.  Their excellence will not bring us joy.

If you experience any of these blocks against admiration for your husband, don’t lose heart.  Insecurities, fears, and disillusionment can grow in the presence of intimacy if both parties are not rooted in and accountable to Christ.  The closer you become to someone, the more you are vulnerable to both love and attack.    What disillusionment, fear, or insecurity likely indicates is that one or both of you needs more time in the presence of Jesus.  And I don’t mean that tritely.

Jesus truly does bring light to darkness and salve to wounds.  He changes perspectives and transforms hearts.  Your identity is secure in Christ.  And though grasping this—for you and for your spouse—is a lengthy and arduous process, let Christ stand between you and your husband in the meantime.  God sees the excellence of Christ when He looks at your husband, so try to do the same.  Marvel in the wonder of Who Christ is, and let that seep out into your marriage.  Admiration for your husband will come again.

God 6: Enemy 0.

Protect your marriage from attack by thinking on what is admirable about your husband.  If you don’t know what that is, think on Christ and that will calibrate your thoughts.



Photo © Prill Mediendesign & Fotografie

1 All definitions taken from Dictionary.com.

By Lindsay

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