Relationships

The Art of Loving a Woman Well

Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a Trilogy on the Art of Husbandry.

Life is this ever-moving story. Little of it sits still for too long. One thing leads to another. A recent rails-to-trails bike ride with my wife discovered her bike needed a tune-up. Off to REI’s bike shop. Four days and $120 later (with REI membership discount), it’s all tuned-up and ready for our Colorado trip! With bikes racked up on the Crosstrek, we headed to the mountains. On our first trek, we discover that gears 2 and 3 on the derailleur are skipping. Now what?  Another local REI to the rescue. A free quick adjustment and we are ready to roll again!  One thing leads to another.  Fairly innocuous,  but it still involved planning and time and money and patience and grace. For what? 

Exercise. 

For spending time with my awesome wife! 

For love.

Thirty-one years ago, when Sandy and I said “I do!” that included a host of future chores, errands, and repairs. Late-night trips to the store. Not inconveniences, but expressions of love, of life together.

Falling In Love

Perhaps you are a young warrior dating a cute gal. She’s a great woman! So much of her just fits. You see her beauty, her caring heart. You share a lot of interests in common! In your mind, this relationship COULD be headed to marital bliss. What could go wrong?

That’s what I thought when I first met Sandy via a matchmaker. I was head over heels for her! I couldn’t imagine anyone else. Sure, we were in two different countries (the USA and Canada), but nothing could stop our love, or so I thought.

What I Didn’t Expect Happened

How about 20 months of silence? After writing back and forth for a year and traveling between Wichita and Toronto, it all came to a grinding halt. “I cannot marry you.” Those were not the words I wanted to hear. My head was spinning. My heart broken as I flew back home; my family and friends assuming I’d come back engaged. She wasn’t ready. With as much as I didn’t like her answer, I chose to trust God. 

Now What?

Life moved on.  I bought my first bachelor house- a restored 1929 bungalow. That brought a lawn to mow and a house to maintain. I sat for my exams and became a licensed architect. My single days were spent helping at the church youth group, corraling middle school boys, and leading summer camps. I also volunteered with Big Brothers in our city. What’s a single guy to do? Keep moving forward. I sure wish I had a mentor back then to help me figure things out.

I Couldn’t Stop Thinking About Her

Amidst the logistics of single-warrior life, my heart never stopped thinking of Sandy. I didn’t know during that time it would end up being 20 months of silence. All I knew was I had another week of work, another lonely Friday night, another weekend to live out solo. “What are you teaching me, God? Do I not have what it takes to love a woman? Is all this pent up desire for a family an ill-fated dream? Am I idolizing marriage? Sandy?”

So, what does all this have to do with bikes and tune-ups at REI and loving a woman well?

Thirty-one years ago I saw love from 30,000 feet. Bliss. Glorious, wonderful bliss! I disconnected the details of life together involving chores and errands and fixing things from those being a way to love a woman well.

Loving a Woman Well 

Some guy’s love language is acts of service. I have a cousin who is the master of loving others through helping them. Guys will chore for their gal till the day they die. Others of us-our love language are words of affirmation- “You are an amazing woman! I see so much of God at work in you!”

Honeymoon’s Over

When you hear that the honeymoon is over for a young couple, that often refers to a level of strain in the marriage that is becoming a daily reality. Bills are due, roles and responsibilities have to be figured out. Even expectations about sex can be a struggle.  Sometimes you get this pit in your stomach-” Did I marry the wrong person?” Answer. You did not! The woman in bed with you. The one who buys things you never imagined-is exactly the one God has for you. All of the domestic household chores, responsibilities, logistics of life, like getting her bike repaired are part and parcel of loving a woman well. 

17 Months and Counting

After 17 months of silence, I couldn’t stand it anymore. Sitting at my bachelor kitchen table I went through iterations of a letter to Sandy; explaining my heart. As I wrote, I imagined she had met some handsome Canadian dude and had a kid by now. My fate was toast. Days turned into weeks, into months. More silence.  My assumptions were condemning me. So, that summer, off I went to lead another middle school church camp. 

Silence Broken!

Exhausted and with a suitcase of dirty clothes, I sifted through a week’s pile of mail. Forget the bills! There was a letter from Sandy! She was in a different place in life and ready to resolve things between us. Maybe there was still hope!

I’m not telling you our marriage story except to draw a connection between life as you see it, such as bills to pay and chores, with true love in marriage. Don’t separate the two. 

Where Love Happens

“Honey, I sure would enjoy a Starbucks right now.” Just as you sit down to watch your favorite team on ESPN.  To become the Ephesians 5 husband, you, out of love, with NO complaints, run to Starbucks.

You pick up your son from daycare, even though it’s clear across town and you have a meeting you’ll be late for.

You run your wife’s bike to REI twice, and you see it not as an inconvenience, but as a display of love for your woman.

It means when you are out of line, with a raunchy attitude, and she points out what you already know, you don’t lash out. You humbly listen and repent.  This is love.

Love is, after all, more about actions than simply emotions, although emotions can be the icing on the cake.

Loving the Woman Well

So, the girl you are pursuing, assuming there is one, how can you connect the dots between practical ways to love her, ways that nourish her soul?

Did I always get it right? No. There were seasons I was a real jerk; for which I’m sorry.  And, yes, times when I got it right. Where love in simple actions spoke to Sandy’s love language. 

Maybe you need to get her bike tuned up?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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