Why We Act Worst with the One We Love Most
In real life, this is where things can get a bit tricky, because what I do and what I say are not always an accurate reflection of how I really feel. My words and actions often mirror the fluctuating upheavals of daily living—instead of manifesting how much I love Will. Maybe you understand what I’m talking about. You love your husband, really love him, but as true as your love is, it doesn’t always show. Instead of reciting “how do I love thee, let me count the ways,” you recite for your husband a litany of the irritations of the day. The trivial stuff like getting lost in the car. Or fussing over a bill. Or a disagreement about how to handle one of the kids. Just the everyday stuff that wears you down. And while that everyday stuff is just a part of life, the problem is that everyday bickering rips into the heart of your marital relationship. It creates tension. And though you desire to be a loving wife, you know the day-to-day “stuff” often stands in the way.

I have struggled with this very issue. I call it the “love most, act worst” philosophy. The people I absolutely love the most—my husband and my kids—often get the worst of me. The everyday frustrations often shred me to pieces, and I end up giving little tiny bits of goodness to my family instead of the huge chunks they deserve.

As badly as I feel about this, I know I’m not alone in practicing this philosophy. So if any of this sounds familiar, imagine right now what would happen if a member of your family were seriously hurt in an accident. It would create a kind of singular clarity in your life. You would drop everything, realizing the importance of the person’s life, and concentrate on communicating how you really feel. Your words and your actions would reflect your priorities in a real way. Your love would be openly manifested. No fighting. No snippy ugly words. No verbal or nonverbal communication that reflects anything other than how you desperately love the person, irritations aside. You would be operating on the “love most, act best” philosophy instead of the “love most, act worst” philosophy. “Love most, act best” living creates peace in life. It produces joy in life. And it gives you the satisfaction of living a life that is in line with your real priorities. It means that you communicate through your actions and your words a deeply felt affection for the people you love.

Translating the Truth
Recently I was reading a book that completely summed up my ongoing attempt to understand the irony of the “love most, act worst” philosophy. It was a paragraph buried in Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s Love and Respect. He was expounding on a verse in Titus 2:4, which reads, “These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children.” The insight I’d been looking for came in understanding the translation of one little word: “love.”

Here older women are told to encourage younger women to love their husbands and children, but in this case, Paul is not talking about agape love. In Titus 2:4, he uses the Greek word phileo, which refers to the human, brotherly kind of love. The point is, a young wife is created to agape her husband and children. Ultimately, she will never stop unconditionally loving them. But in the daily wear and tear of life, she is in danger of becoming discouraged—so discouraged that she may lack phileo. A kind of impatient unfriendliness can come over her. She may scold and sigh way too much. After all, there is always something or someone who needs correcting. She cares deeply. Her motives are filled with agape, but her methods lack phileo.

When I read that, it was as if a light bulb popped on. It finally made sense to me why I could love Will with everything inside of me and still treat him like crud when he made a wrong turn in the car.

I need more phileo love for Will. And I need that phileo love because that is what will enable me to communicate my real affection for him. It is what will help me to hand out big chunks of goodness to my husband in the form of what I do and say. And it will help me to live out the “love most, act best” philosophy with more ease.

What about you? Do your words and actions betray your deep-down love for your husband? Is there some impatient unfriendliness floating around in your marriage? If so, chances are that there is something getting lost in translation. And do you know what is likely getting sidelined in all those moments? The relationship. Quarrelling is like an autoimmune disease, attacking at its core the very thing that a husband and wife cherish the most: their togetherness. Our petty quarrels have us acting like dummies on a crash course, wrecking the goodness of marriage.

I bet you don’t want that in your marriage—and I don’t either. What I really want is time well spent with Will. I want a marriage relationship of few regrets. I want to be a wife who is easy to love.

The only way I can be the woman I want to be is to lean into God and His way of doing things. It’s what this book is about—about seeking God’s guidance so that you can learn how to love the man you married and become the wife you really want to be, deep down inside. God made you and your husband. He is the One who can mold your marriage into all it needs to be.

And the great news? Considering how you communicate is a step in the right direction. You are one step closer to banning “the crazies” from your marriage. You are one step closer to loving your man without losing your mind! You are one step closer to loving with an irresistible affection and communicating with increasing kindness. So take a deep breath and know that today you are closer to your destination than you were yesterday. You can get to the place you both really want to be: side-by-side in that car together, enjoying the marriage of your dreams!

Copyright © 2009 by Suzie Davis, Adapted from Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind,  Published by Regal Books. Used with permission.

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