I’m not a natural romantic; but I think I can change that.
I’m realizing that my ability to love my wife well greatly depends on my intentional, ongoing pursuit of who she is and what she’s feeling. That’s the essence of romance: intentional pursuit. I’m not just talking about covering the bed with rose petals and lighting a few candles. That might be part of it… we’ll see.
Romance… real romance has less to do with what you do, and way more to do with why. At least that’s my hunch.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife more than any other person on earth… without a doubt. I do show her through encouragement and acts of service, etc… but my pursuit often (and tragically) ends there. There’s more to showing her my love than saying “I love you” and doing chores around the house. Both of those things are good…but there’s more.
I don’t naturally think to do things for her that are outside our normal routines. Too often, I fail to put extra thought, time, money, and energy into tangibly showing her my love. Thankfully, God revealed how I can improve in our current season of life.
Ugly Honesty: Exposing my Selfishness
I’m part of a guys group that meets every two weeks to discuss theology, the church, and most importantly… stirring our hearts for Jesus. We began a marriage study recently that includes watching video sessions online and reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. When we meet, we answer discussion questions honestly and openly. It’s incredible.
We’re only ONE session in, and I already feel convicted.
Within 10 minutes of going through the first session, I was violently confronted with my own selfishness — my tendency to prioritize myself and my desires over Selena’s. My brand of selfishness isn’t always obvious, but it’s there. In God’s grace, he exposed a blind spot in my heart where I can love her better…to love and pursue her more like Christ pursues me.
In the videos I watched, two men much wiser than I shared that, as husbands, we must PURSUE our wives with tenacity and boldness. They opened my eyes to the deeper meaning of pursuit. Two ways they described were “discovering her deepest joys” and “providing the safety she desires” through my countenance, communication, and leadership.
This reflection question hit me square in the face:
Question: Are there are new habits, attitudes, or rhythms you would like to adopt in light of this session?
My answer: Conscious selflessness… going OUT OF MY WAY to think of Selena. Looking for ways to discover her joys and give her safety and comfort. Looking for ways to surprise her with adoration, generosity, and love.
The key phrases that stirred my heart were “conscious selflessness” and “looking for ways”. So often, I don’t actively pursue my bride by venturing into new territory to discover her heart — to discover her.
What can I do to change that? Let’s see…
My 3 NEW Goals for Pursuing My Wife
Having been married 13 years, it’s too easy to assume I know her as much as I ever will. This is far from true. Selena has changed so much since we said “I do”; how much more will she change in the next 30 years? In countless ways no doubt. How can I assume I’ll figure her out without the same intentionality I pursued her with when we were dating?
Here are three ways I’m hoping to improve in my pursuit, and grow in selflessness toward Selena: by taking time to ponder, plan, and probe. All of them start with P, so that’s great… The last one sounds weird, but whatever. :) Alliteration helps me remember things… maybe it’ll help you too!
Pursuit Goal #1: Take Time to Ponder
Simply put, I need to take time to think hard about my bride. As I said before, it’s easy to assume you know you know your spouse and stop pursuing him/her intentionally. I’m taking the time to ponder the following questions and write down my answers:
- How is she feeling and why?
- What is on her heart lately, and what got her there?
- What are her deepest joys, and what can I do to help her feel them?
- How can I make her feel emotionally and physically safe — with me, and in general?
A note on #4: security is a big thing to most wives, and I mistakenly assume that Selena feels the same safety I feel. However, she’s much more delicate than me and I must consider her instead of expecting her to “buck up”. This means sympathizing more with how she feels about where we go, what’s happening in life, what people say, etc.
Pursuit Goal #2: Take Time to Plan
Selena isn’t a flower person as much as she’s a “give me time to relax” person. This is especially true with our two kiddos. Nothing speaks to hear more than when I say, “I’ve got the kids tonight, why don’t you go grab coffee and read a bit.” Simple. Or, “I’ll take the kids, you go to [insert event she wants to attend, or people she wants to hang out with].
Of course, each of the above examples takes planning. I need to think about them days…even weeks in advance! This isn’t normal for me. With all the daily work I have to do, I must carve out intentional time to think, plan, and execute or it will never happen. Then, I just need to put dates on the calendar; even the anticipation makes her feel loved and pursued.
Pursuit Goal 3: Take Time to Probe
As I mentioned, my wife is always changing. I need to keep up to speed on what’s happening in her heart, and there’s no other way to do that than to ask intentional questions (a.k.a. probing). Now, Selena isn’t a fan of being psychoanalyzed — who is? If she feels like I’m interrogating her, it won’t work. So what can I do?
Ready for this?… I have to be her husband! (Imagine that.) I must learn and know how to read her and how to ask the right questions at the right time so she doesn’t feel targeted by my inquisitions.
Discovering my bride isn’t something to check off a list — it’s a lifestyle of pursuit. It never ends… but that’s marriage. That’s extravagant love. That’s pursuit.
The Wonder of Pursuing as One Pursued by Christ
None of the above makes sense without Christ. How can I be selfless if marriage starts and ends with me? Even my desire to pursue her will be corrupted by selfishness. If I want a happier marriage for me, then knowing her is just another means to get what I want.
But, if pursuing Selena for her — regardless of what it means for me — is my goal, then I’m reflecting what it means to be pursued by Christ. Only Christ’s love is deep enough and inexhaustible enough to fuel selfless love in marriage.
This is exactly what Paul meant when he told husbands to “love their wives as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25)
If marriage is a reflection of the gospel, then how I pursue my wife should reflect how Jesus has pursued me: with untiring, relentless, selfless, and sacrificial love. Surely… in light of Jesus I can pursue my bride better than I ever have before. In time, I’ll see how well she feels loved.
- How can you pursue your wife/husband in light of how Jesus pursues you?
- What can you do differently to ponder, plan, and probe in the name of pursuit?
Feel free to leave answers/comments below.