The high maintenance wife receives such a bad rap that scores of wives prefer to be seen as low maintenance and independent as possible.
But is a high maintenance spouse, and consequently high maintenance marriage, such a bad idea?
Last week I posted a photo from our wedding on Instagram and shared how right before the pastor announced us to our guests (Introducing to you…Mr. and Mrs. Otiende!) he cracked a little joke.
The picture captures Tommy and me, leaning towards each other, talking, while everyone is looking away, laughing. We seem to be in our own little world.
And looking at the picture, it seemed like even before our marriage began, God was reminding us to lean into each other, to remember to build our own life, to prefer one another in the middle of busyness, crowds or attention.
The dictionary defines high maintenance as
Needing a lot of work t o keep in good condition. Or (of a person or relationship) demanding a lot of attention.
When I think about what it takes to create a happy marriage, lots of work and attention come to mind.
A healthy marriage involves two people making a daily choice to esteem and prefer the other above everything, after their relationship with God.
When a husband and wife say ” I do,” they are pretty much saying “no” to a whole bag of other things.
Unfortunately, many couples make big heartfelt vows on their wedding day, while secretly hoping/imagining the commitment part of the relationship is the same as wishing upon a shooting star.
That while the star (wedding day) fades, fairy tale wishes still come true.
But alas, reality checks in soon after “I do” as the rigors and unceasing commitments of marriage plant themselves in the middle of their happily ever after.
And instead of brushing up on their premarital notes, or making a beeline for a marriage mentor or aligning their weak spine, some couples begin to question their very vows.
If he loved me, he would allow me to take this promotion. Forget that it’s taking away the already scant hours you spend at home with your beloved.
If this marriage were meant to be, she would not fuss about my female travel companion. It’s work for goodness sake. And I am not a cheater! Conveniently forgetting his newest responsibility is to protect his marriage, not just from infidelity but from every appearance of.
If he knew how much my family means to me, he would not be upset that I spend a bit of time with them whenever I can. The same family, she forgets, that is constantly reminding her of her rights in marriage but with no mention of responsibilities.
And so divorce, separation, and unhappy marriage become more common nowadays because husbands and wives have failed to recognize that exclusivity and loyalty come with the married territory.
Now, I am not implying that once married, all interests and pursuits outside marriage have to be shut down, or spouses should dive headlong into immature demands.
Obviously, there’s a place for order, and deliberation.
The high maintenance marriage I am talking about revolves around making sure your spouse feels like they are the most important person in your world.
It entails making sure they know, not just through words but by how you order your priorities that they come first.
If you think this is a tall tale to live up to, keep in mind that spouses who feel supported and cherished in this way will walk on hot coals to help their spouse succeed.
They rarely oppose sensible plans; in fact, they jump and cheer loudest because the job, hobby, friends, ministry e.t.c is not a competitor.
Are you pouring your best effort into your marriage or are you giving it the leftovers of a busy day and busy life?
Is your husband first, after your devotion to God?
If you want a relationship that looks and feels like the most amazing thing on earth, you need to treat it like it is the most amazing thing on earth through giving it your greatest energy and attention.
Live like you said “aye” to a high maintenance life, and “nay” to anything less.
Now, I get it. Reserving my best energy for my husband can be hard. God was hammering the very lesson to me last week.
I am a doer, and sometimes there’s no rest in my soul until a task is checked off. Unfortunately, checking off a task sometimes comes at a cost, often in the form of loss of unrushed, relaxed time with my husband.
Last week, and after settling down from a 6-hour move (we moved from beautiful San Antonio Texas to wondrous Plano, Texas!), I was trying to craft a blog post when God nudged my heart to spend that time with my husband instead.
Sad to admit but a little earlier, my husband had pointed out the need to quit worrying about making my writing deadline; I was tired and recovering from a cold.
Still, I found myself on our dining table, rubbing my temples, trying to write. And then God spoke. (Now you know why you didn’t get a fresh article in your inbox last week!)
The relentlessness of God
It’s easy to miss the voice of God because He is so gentle and quiet.
His voice might feel like a suggestion that can be ignored or a nudge that gets hijacked by plans. God will even speak through our spouses, but we argue and out-reason them, as I did my husband.
Last week I was reminded that my relationship cannot be put a schedule. Hearts, and consequently relationships have their ebbs and flows, and the wise spouse learns to catch and ride the wave before it breaks ashore.
The not-so-sensitive spouse believes they’ll catch and ride the next wave. Like it is a guarantee. Except tomorrow is not a guarantee. Today’s wave might be the last one. Plus when you miss this one, it is gone forever, never to be recreated.
Last Thursday I spoke with my mom, and as it happens every time I talk to her on the phone, I ached to be nearer her, not some 8,000 miles away.
My mom is strong but she’s in her early seventies. And widowed. My dad was in her life from the time she was 16-years old, and he passed away after more than forty years of marriage.
The day he died, I remember my mom collapsing on the floor and her first words out of her broken heart were, “What will I do without you?”
This moment is all you and I have.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Seasons change and every season comes with its ebbs and tides. We don’t have to lose our mates to appreciate the vast space they occupy in our lives.
My mom already knew how much her husband meant to her, and you probably do too. But there’s that room for improvement, that place we need to step up.
Seasons change – busier jobs, relocations, travel, kids, finances – and when they do, you want to feel like you gave your very best in the previous position.
If you are struggling to pour out to your husband, I want you to know there’s help and His name is the Spirit of God.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13
He instructs, corrects and shows us what to do.
But we have to be open.
He might ask you to say no to perfectly good things, so you can preserve your energy for the best thing you already chose.
You may have to turn down a promotion, postpone going back to school, create boundaries with people, drop a hobby, do less so you can be more.
Giving your best to your spouse has its rigors, but you know what? The reward is magnificent. Unity, oneness, fulfillment, serving Jesus, fulfilling His mandate for your lives, being an example to others.
These are the amazing bonuses of a high maintenance marriage. Before long you get to this place where you pour out not out of compulsion but delight. It becomes a privilege to honor your spouse in that way.
Are you a high maintenance wife in a high maintenance marriage? I hope you are. Or are aspiring to be.
I pray you see how God created marriage to mimic the relationship He has with us – a heavenly groom in an exclusive, pricey relationship with His bride, the church.
The bride is not throwing a fit because of the price paid for her; we gladly accept the sacrifice of our groom and pour our all to Him.
If you have balked at thinking of your marriage as high maintenance relationship, even scuffed at your spouse for making high demands, perhaps been reaping the repercussions of commonizing your marriage, I hope these words inspire you to see different.
Let’s talk – What one thing can you do today to reorganize your priorities so you can give your husband more, and not leftovers? Please share your in Comment!
And if this post resonated with you, please consider sharing it with friends!