In my last post, I talked about how husbands need to do a better job of affirming their wives. Its funny, because not to long after writing this I had to be reminded by my wife, that there are no days off. Just like a gardener, the affirming can’t be a once a week exercise, but a frequent scheduled showering. We are to wash our wives with praise and affection. Sometimes the constant pulls and pressures of daily living can make this difficult, especially when our days are filled with activity, stress and conflict. So don’t beat yourself up, when you fall, because you will. I think a practical tip we should all do as men and even fathers with our daughters is to think how have we verbally affirmed the women in our life today. Arguments and disagreements should not keep us from performing our duty to affirm. In fact our disagreements and fights are minimized when we constantly praise our wives. Here’s a good way to end an argument. I hate arguing with you, because you argue so good. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll let you know how it works.
Moving from praise I want to focus on another aspect found in a husband’s gardener role. Back to our text in Isaiah 5 titled the Song of the Vineyard.
I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines
I want to briefly comment on the latter part of verse 1. Notice where the vineyard was planted. It was planted on a fertile hillside. Is your relationship on fertile ground? Fertile implies that there are chemicals and reactants in your relationship that will produce growth and fruitfulness. I would say the most important factor for fertility is an anchoring in God’s word. Is your relationship anchored in God’s word or just mere emotions. When I talk about relationships, I am not merely speaking of the harmony, chemistry, and pleasant interactions that occur between partners. When I write about relationships, specifically marriage I want us to remember that God as designed marriage as a sacrament, as an image of himself and his relationship with his church. So to have a marriage without God, is to have a house without a foundation. You can have everything right in your relationship, but if it does not point to God it loses its timelessness. You can check out my posts The Priesthood of marriage, and Marriage after Death for more information on that.
I could spend more on the above point but I really want to look at verse 2.
After the gardener sings to his vine, and plants it, he examines his garden. Notice what he does in verse two, He digs it up and clears it of stones. I have to confess that this is an aspect of marriage I had no idea I was responsible for, and did not know how to do. But let me tell you this, in every relationship there are debris and stones that need to be dug up and cleared. If these are not dealt with they will corrupt and ruin any potential fruit. The problem with debris and stones is that they are not always found on the surface. You see sometimes those repeated arguments, those emotional melt downs, that pattern of disrespect or infidelity has a root cause; something underneath the soil that needs to be examined. A good husband takes the time to go deep with his wife, and searches the depths of her thoughts, feelings, emotions, history and does his best to address the stones that lie in her heart. You see all relationships come with baggage, but the trickier things is when you find baggage that you did not know was there. It was hiding underneath the attitude. It is our duty in general as men to really take the time to listen and really know our wives. This isn’t always easy because sometimes you have to fight through nagging, attitude, or sometimes trivial information. But in the end we need to dig into the heart of our wives. We need to go deeper. Sometimes its scary to go deep because we might be scared in what we will find. Sometimes our partners hold back because they can’t trust us to handle the skeletons buried underneath. This is where trust needs to come into play. We need to communicate and demonstrate that we are trustworthy with our partners deepest feelings and thoughts. But we will never gain trust or that level of intimacy especially if we laugh at scorn, or take lightly our partner in normal every day conversations. There are so many couples who harbor resentment, fear, hate insecurities and are dying inside because they feel that their partner will not understand them. The problem is that those stones are like poisoned waters, you can bury them all you want, but sooner or later the poisonous waters will surface.
This is where counseling comes in to play. Finding a strong, unbiased and biblically rooted counselor is an indispensable asset in cleaning out matters of the soul. Sometimes we are not equipped to handle the fragile and sensitive issues that lie in the depths of our heart. Even in lighter situations counseling is an effective tool in allowing us to see the core motives for our actions or our breakdowns. Counseling however is most effective when both partners are on board. This can not happen however if the husband does not dig, and the wife does not allow her husband to go deeper. Sometimes certain areas are so fragile, so tender when anyone brings it up we attack, snarl, scream or stonewall.
On a lighter level, when I think about the phrase digging into the heart of our spouses, it also implies connecting to the deepest longings, goals, and purposes of our partner. Every relationship should have some sense of purpose. I want to encourage my wife to be all God has called her to be and sometimes in my encouraging I find that there are stones, or doubts that I need to help her remove so she can move on with her purpose. Wives are not exempt from this as well. In fact a wife who knows the thoughts and desires of her husband is critical for him in reaching his potential. Practically speaking we should all have periodic times where we review our purpose. How are we doing towards reaching our goals? What stones are there that are keeping us from moving forward?
So what does a godly husband do after he removes stones? Well looking at the end of the verse it say, he plants the choicest of vines. Where there is death a godly husband speaks life. Where there is fear, the godly husband speaks protection, where there is worry the godly husband speaks peace, and where there is pain, the godly husband must speak healing. This is why the godly husband must be rooted in Gods word. There are holes that will be left from the stones, that will not be completely replaced unless we fill that void with life, with God’s word. This is why I believe every couple should have their own private devotion of both prayer and study of Gods word. It does not have to be long. Even if it is just 5-10 minutes a day, that time in devotion is critical for a strong relationship. I know in my marriage, the times we have been consistent in doing that we have been generally more connected, more loving and better listeners.
- So how’s your wife’s soul?
- Does it need digging into?
- What stones are there that need to be removed?
- How are you doing in planting choice vines?
Men, our jobs are hard but there’s a blessing when we connect and really listen to the heartbeat of our wives, or our daughters. Lets do a better job of connecting. Pray with me as I pray with you.