The high maintenance wife receives such a bad rap that scores of wives have chosen to be as low maintenance and independent as possible.
But is a high maintenance spouse, and consequently high maintenance marriage, such a bad thing after all?
Last week I posted a photo from our wedding on Instagram and shared how, right before the pastor announced us to our guests, he paused to crack 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, remember to build our own life, and prefer one another in the middle of busyness, crowds, or attention.
What is considered a high maintenance woman?
The dictionary defines high maintenance as “needing a lot of work to 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, a healthy amount of effort and attention come to mind. A healthy marriage involves two people making a daily choice to esteem and prefer the other.
When a husband and wife say ” I do,” they are saying “no” to a whole bunch of other things. Unfortunately, many couples make big heartfelt vows on their wedding day while secretly hoping or 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. Then reality checks in soon after “I do.” The commitments of marriage plant themselves in the middle of their happily ever after.
And instead of brushing up on their commitment, or making a beeline for a licensed counseling, couples falter.
If he loved me, he would allow me to take this work promotion. Forget that it’s taking away the already scant hours you spend at home with your beloved.
If he knew how much my family means to me, he would not be upset when I spend time with them whenever I can. The same family, she forgets, that is constantly reminding her of her rights in marriage, without a mention of her responsibilities.
And so a lot of unhappy marriages ensure because husbands and wives are failing to recognize that exclusivity and loyalty are part of the married territory.
How do I know if my spouse is high maintenance?
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 maturity, and deliberation. The high maintenance wife and marriage I am talking about revolves around making sure your spouse feels like they are the most important person in your world.
It’s about making sure our spouse knows, not just through words but by how we order our priorities, that they come first.
If you think this is a tall tale to live up to, keep in mind that most 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 the loudest because the job, hobby, friends, ministry e.t.c is not a competitor.
The high maintenance wife assessment
Are you pouring your best effort into your marriage or are you giving it the leftovers of a busy day and busy life?
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 write a blog post when I felt as if God nudged my heart to ease off and perhaps spend time with my spouse.
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 hunched over the 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!)
Lessons from the high maintenance wife and our relentless God
When it comes to our relationship with God, sometimes it’s easy to miss His voice. He can be gentle and quiet and sometimes his voice feels like a suggestion.
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 the next wave is a guarantee. But tomorrow is not a guarantee. Today’s wave might be the last one. And even if you catch tomorrow’s wave, today’s 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.
Now 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 spouse, I want you to know there’s help and His name is the Spirit of God (and He works through therapy too.)
“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.
You might feel impressed 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 in-laws, drop a hobby, do less so you can be more.
Giving your best to your spouse has its intentionality, but you know what? The reward is magnificent. Unity, oneness, fulfillment, walking in Jesus together, being an example to others.
These are the amazing bonuses of a high maintenance wife and 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 aspiring to be one.
I pray you see how God created marriage to mimic the relationship He has with us – a heavenly groom in an exclusive, 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 are your thoughts about the high maintenance wife? 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!
Please note: Practicing unselfish unbridled love isn’t the same as allowing abuse, toxicity, unrepentant abandonment, criminal behavior, or sin. Part of creating a healthy marriage and life includes being able to call out and distance yourself from toxic destructive marriage patterns. If your spouse is abusive, please talk to a safe person – a counselor, a trusted friend or the authorities. You are loved. Check out these posts.If you’re in danger, call an emergency hotline in your country. Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233). United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673). United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111. Australia: 1800 015 188. New Zealand: 0800 456 450. Kenya: 0-800-720-072. Nigeria: 0800 033 3333. South Africa: 0800 428 428.