Making My Wife Cry on Christmas

Making My Wife Cry on Christmas by Gary Thomas

“How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!” Song of Songs 1:15a (NIV)

At first, it looked like the worst Christmas gift ever.

I could read the expression on Lisa’s face: “Why would you do this to me?”

Lisa held the daily journal in her hand and thought (she later told me): “You know I don’t like to keep a journal. Please don’t ask me to do this.”

But then she noticed it was stamped “2016” — which had already passed. And then she saw how the entries were already filled in.

The first page said, “Lisa’s Lovely Ways,” and I explained that throughout the past year, I’d written down something every day Lisa did which I was thankful for, or something about who she is that I admire.

That’s when she cried.

“You found 365 things to say? Even on my ornery, not-so-nice days?”

My 20-something daughter said, “Sheesh, that’s like something you see in a Hallmark movie that nobody actually ever does.”

I borrowed the idea from a wife who did this for her husband. After he read it, he said, “Reading that journal makes me aspire to be the man she thinks I am.”

Here’s why it was so powerful for me to write this journal of gratitude: I don’t think I asked God to change my wife even once during the months I wrote it.

Every morning, I had to come up with something new to say. I couldn’t thank Lisa for the same thing 10 or even five times without it losing its power. So sometimes, particularly near the end of the year, I had to sit before God and ask Him to remind me about something Lisa had done, or even something she is that perhaps I’d taken for granted. Starting each day praying, asking God to help me recognize my wife’s excellence, impacted my thinking for the rest of the day.

Writing the journal made asking God to change anything about my wife seem a little … picky. When you have a book already listing over 100 praise-worthy things about your spouse, asking God to “change” her is a bit like examining a brand new Mercedes Benz and being upset that the gasoline tank holds “only” 18 gallons instead of 21. I mean, Come on.

While traveling, I feared losing the journal because I had put so much effort into it, but then I realized the discipline of writing had already changed my marriage. It made my wife feel more cherished because of the way I thought about her, spoke to (and about) her and felt about her. Without even knowing it, she was receiving the present long before Christmas Day.

That journal is just one of dozens of things I put into practice when I realized it wasn’t enough to love (be committed to, sacrifice for and serve) my wife. I had promised to cherish her (“I promise to love and to cherish until death do us part”).

And here’s what I’ve found:

A cherishing marriage is a much happier marriage.
Cherishing can be chosen and learned.
Cherishing feeds itself — the more I cherish my spouse, the more I cherish and value my spouse.
In a world where so many spouses feel neglected, I want mine to feel especially cherished.
The author of our key verse today was intentional about pointing out what he cherished about his beloved: “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!” (Song of Songs 1:15a) Might we do the same?

We need to raise the bar for our marriages. For the sake of our children. To please our God. Even for our own happiness, we need to learn what it means to cherish our spouse and put it into practice. When marriage gets difficult, it’s easy to focus on our commitment to love — but we also promised to cherish. I don’t want my spouse to think I’m with her just because it would be wrong to leave her; I promised to cherish her, and I’m determined to follow through on that promise.

Lord, help me cherish my spouse the way You cherish me. Please don’t let me settle for mere love; help me fulfill my promise to learn how to cherish this spouse who is committed to me. Let me speak about my spouse the way Your word teaches me to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Song of Songs 5:10: “My beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.” (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Read Song of Songs 5:10 in our Truth for Today. Think on your spouse’s most excellent qualities until you can say this verse and mean it.

© 2017 by Gary Thomas. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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