The Prayer Perspective: How to love your husband when you feel unloved
There was a time when I was younger and believed marriage, parenting, and following my calling would all fall into place easily and succinctly. I would send my husband to work, play with my kids, and lead thousands to Christ without sacrificing a thing personally. In actuality, trying to do all three well was next to impossible and looked more like a terrifying rollercoaster than a float down a lazy river. I wanted my calling more than I wanted my kids. I desired my husband, but his ministry better not come before my own. The biggest blow? None of them ever supported “ME” the way I thought they should.
What about my needs as a wife, a mom, and a minister? Why was I always put on hold while everyone else was given permission to thrive and take all they wanted from me? When would someone give to little ol’ Erica? The pity party was almost unbearable.
It was then God placed the mirror before me and revealed my own selfishness. I refused to see my marriage, my children, and my calling as a gift. I saw ministry as my “right” and my people as a burden. It was obvious my heart was not humble OR happy. I was missing the piece we all need to love our family well-
God has crafted me in such a way that prayer is my greatest passion. My calling, if you will. My greatest gift to my people was to use my gift in a way that honored and served them, not accused them or burdened them. God showed me the truth: the three loves of my life- husband, children, and calling- could flow together seamlessly and easily, if only I let prayer lead.
Praying for my kids always came easy. Praying for protection and for their hearts to love God was a natural response as a mom. Praying for my husband? Not so much. Not because I didn’t love him, but because praying for my husband often put me second, and I didn’t like that. I didn’t want to pray for his ministry to grow because that meant I would carry more of the burden to take care of the kids. I didn’t want to pray for God to mature his faith because conviction usually made him cranky, and who wants a party pooper husband?
Praying for my spouse puts me second, and that is a humbling place to be.
We see this type of intercessory prayer (praying on behalf of someone else) modeled by Jesus. Not only was He humble in spirit, serving all those around him, but his ministry continues even in heaven. What is his job? To intercede for us before God.
“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” – Romans 8:34
That is the exact job we have as a husband or wife- to intercede for our spouse. Jesus set the standard and we follow his example. When we see them in need, we pray for them.
We are most like Christ when we pray for our spouse.
How can we do that, tangibly?
First, we must be a student of our spouse. What does that mean? It means we are constantly learning about them. What do they love? How do they struggle? When do they need love? How do they respond to stress? How can I love them best? As I learn these truths about my spouse, I will know how to pray for them when they need it most. I will know the areas that are easily attacked by the enemy and pray for God to strengthen those areas.
Second, we must be intentional. With all that is on my plate, it is easy to forget to pray for my husband. Because of my calling, I am constantly praying for everyone BUT my husband. His needs can easily fall to the wayside while I am busy interceding for those in my prayer ministry, #theFives. Taking time to consciously think of him and his needs takes practice and purpose. Now I pray for him first before I dive into the rest of my prayers.
Third, we can’t give up. If we want to see a change in our spouse, it takes time and prayer. God can move mountains we don’t even know are there, but we can’t give up. We must press in. We must believe. Whether we pray for their salvation, their healing, or their emotional well-being, we know that God hears every word.
Now I cheer for my husband. I am his biggest fan. There is no longer competition or jealousy. No more keeping tally of what Erica is getting in return. I celebrate every powerful moment he has in his faith, whether easy or difficult, because I know my prayers helped usher it in. And when my husband wins, everyone in the family wins.