Most of us want our relationships to thrive. We want to have a great relationship with our children; we want to have a great relationship with our husband. We also want our husband to have a great relationship with our children. But really, what can a wife do to build up the father in her immediate family unit? How can she support his role in the family? It starts with Philippians 2.
Note to my Single Mom Readers: I’m sorry that this post isn’t written to suit your needs. I’m not able to write about divorce situations because it isn’t something that I have lived. So, while I hope that you might find something of use in this post, I also understand if you want to completely skip it.
How a Supportive Marriage Relationship Lets You Build Up the Father
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:1-4 (HCSB)
This passage is talking specifically about Christian fellowship. It’s pretty straightforward when you think about it as a checklist:
- Is there encouragement in Christ? Check.
- Is there consolation of love? Check
- Is there fellowship with the Holy Spirit?
- Affection or mercy?
If yes to any of those, then am I:
- Thinking the same way?
- Having the same love?
- Sharing the same feelings?
- Focused on one goal?
- Doing nothing out of rivalry or conceit?
- Being humble?
- Considering others as more important than myself?
- Looking out for the interests of others?
It’s difficult, right? This is like the ultimate trust challenge. We understand trusting in God, but it’s much harder to trust in people who claim to follow God. So what does this mean for building up the father anyways?
It’s easy to separate out the individual roles for the purpose of blog posts, but in reality all of an individual’s roles intertwine to make or break a person’s day. A bad day at work crosses over into life at home. Tension between the husband and wife makes it easier to snap at the children. That’s why the best way to build up the father starts with having a harmonious relationship with each other.
So how can we do that? By showing the same unity that Paul describes for Christians in Philippians 2.
Applying the Ifs to Marriage
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
Philippians 2:1 (HCSB)
When we look at Paul’s statements for our Spiritual lives, it creates an ironclad statement that we cannot get out of. All the ifs of this verse are actually givens. Christ does encourage us, love consoles our pain, there is fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and there is plenty of mercy.
When we apply these verses to our relationship, it’s important to realize that sometimes we need to be the ones to show these traits. Our spouse, even if he is the most devoted of Christians, is not always going to embody these traits. Sometimes we’ll misread these traits in action – like missing the fact that a husband trying to solve our problem is a form of consoling – which leads us to feel like our husband isn’t doing everything he should in the relationship.
Whatever the reason, we cannot control our husband. We also know that two wrongs do not make a right. This means that we must examine our own lives to see if we’re fully living out the if statements in our marriage by asking questions like:
- Am I actively encouraging my husband, or am I discouraging him?
- Am I consoling my husband with love during a tough time, or am I impatiently trying to rush through the process?
- Am I fellowshipping with my husband?
- Am I being affectionate?
- Am I having mercy on him?
What if my husband isn’t a Christian?
It’s true that – since this passage was written to govern unity within the Church – that this question is a valid complaint against how I’m applying this passage to a marriage relationship. However, when we look at the Bible, there are very few differences in how we should treat a stranger, a non-Christian friend, and a Christian loved one. The same kind of love that God has for us is also the same love that should define our lives.
In addition, the characteristics of living in harmony will be the same even outside of a Christian relationship. I think that this devotional is relevant no matter the circumstances of your relationship.
Two Parts to a Harmonious Relationship
There are two parts to creating a harmonious relationship: communication and support.
#1 – Strong Communication
…fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.
Philippians 2:2 (HCSB)
There’s only one way to achieve this level of unity, and that is by communicating well with each other. Even now, four and a half years after our marriage, we still ask each other, “What are you thinking?” It borders on obsessive, really. But it works. We know what each other are thinking. We know when the other is feeling bothered, and we usually know about what.
As far as “having the same love”, that’s easy to do during the good times in marriage. But what about fights? When anger blinds your heart, do you still remember the love that you have for your man? If you’re struggling with this, I’ve written two posts that deal with fights in relationships:
- How to Stop Fights from Defining Your Relationship
- How to Fight Fair: 4 Tips to Limit the Nastiness in Your Arguments (hosted on Living Fiercely Loved)
Most important, communicating well lets you focus on the same goal.
Communication as a Parenting Team
Once upon a time, the Hubby and I were united in passing our college classes and working to pay the bills. These days, we don’t have a lot of common ground in our goals. He works and is pursuing entrance to a PhD program; I take care of our daughter and try to build up this blog.
We are still united in our goal of raising our daughter, though.
Just because we have this as a common goal doesn’t mean that we always see eye-to-eye on how to best raise her. Did you know that every personality type values a different characteristic when raising children? There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these values, but it can lead to conflicts all the same.
The only way that you’ll ever be able to support your man in his role as a father is by first communicating. This is important as a parenting team. You need to know what’s most important to your spouse when it comes to raising children, and he needs to know what’s most important to you. This can help you respect each other, stop you from accidentally crossing each other up, and reach decisions on how to best handle disciplinary actions.
#2 – Strong Support
3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Even though most of our goals no longer align, we still live in harmony by supporting each other in separate goal. The best way to support each other is outlined in these verses.
My goals are not more important than his. Likewise, his are not more important than mine. We both value each other’s interests and make a habit of supporting each other. When I’ve had a rough day with Hailey, he volunteers to make dinner so that I can have a rest period. This gives me the break that I need to be able to focus on writing later in the evening. It doesn’t matter how much schoolwork he has that evening or that he just got home from work himself. He still does it.
When I feel like I’m swamped by writing work (which is always), I don’t turn a blind eye to when he needs help. If he asks me to proof something for grammar, I proof it. If he needs a sounding board for an idea, then I listen.
On paper, it looks like it actually creates more work and stress for both of us. In practice, it somehow creates less work. There’s a certain ebb and flow that develops when it comes to supporting each other that somehow helps us to keep going.
But what about looking out for each other’s interests? This implies being proactive instead of reactive. It means thinking about how something might affect your spouse instead of waiting to see if it does have an effect.
And, of course, looking out for your spouse’s interests also means that sometimes you have to sacrifice your own desires. It means sometimes you have to give him the space to chase his own dreams, even when that means you’re still chasing a toddler around the house for an extra hour in the day. It means sometimes giving up small little purchases so that he can go to a conference important to his career.
You do these things in faith that he will in turn honor your own interests and dreams. But even if he doesn’t live up to the idea of unity described in these Scriptures, you still have to continue going the extra mile to communicate with him and to support him. Why? Because your relationship will never progress to this point if neither of you are willing to make the first effort.
- Ask: “Am I doing my part to have a harmonious relationship with my husband?”
- Do: Look for one way, even if it’s as simple as picking up a special treat to put a bright spot in his day, to support your husband.
- Pray: “Dear God, please help me to have a harmonious relationship with my husband so that he’s better equipped to be a great father to our children. Help us to communicate effectively with each other and to support each other. Amen.”