Sep 062016 4 Responses

What I Need from My Wife

I need a lot of things from my wife. (This is an excerpt of my latest book Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples Who Laugh, Love & Last.)

I need her to be my friend. I want her to walk beside me in life–cheering me on, sharing our lives together, and multiplying the good we experience.

I need her to be my partner. The demands of life are tough and I want someone to share the burden. I want her to have my back, give me her insight, and protect me from myself and others.

I need her to be my lover. In a world where we are rightly leery of revealing our faults, I need her to see my imperfections and to love my anyway. I need to be fully loved by the one before whom I’m fully exposed.

The list is longer than just these three, but there is one thing which stands above all the things I need from my wife.

I need her mercy.

Marriage Without Mercy

There are plenty of marriages which exist without mercy. Records of wrongs are kept. Revenge is exacted. A continual power struggle see-saws back and forth depending on whomever has the upper hand at the moment.

Characteristics of merciless marriages are regularly seen:

  • Give them the cold shoulder.
  • Sulk when you don’t get your way.
  • Always bring up past mistakes in current arguments.
  • Joke about your spouse’s weaknesses.
  • Turn disagreements into personal attacks.
  • Blame your spouse for every problem.
  • Refuse to be influenced by your spouse’s opinions.
  • Assume you are better than your spouse.

When marriage is attempted without mercy, a couple  might have a meaningful relationship, but it is full of skepticism, doubt, and uncertainty. Both individuals know that one mistake gives their spouse the upper-hand. The marriage is defined by a continual power struggle.

Marriage With Mercy

A marriage defined by mercy is radically different. Outsiders may not notice, but those on the inside will see an obvious difference. When both spouses choose to show mercy to one another, they create space and freedom.

A marriage without mercy is often defined by fear and a concern that we might make a mistake or have our mistakes revealed. Letting mercy flow between spouses allows both individuals to relax. To recognize they will make mistakes, but to know those mistakes will not be used against them or held against them.

When mercy is present, my actions are not dictated by my spouse’s choices. I will treat them in a loving and kind way, no matter what they do. I will give them a grace they do not deserve. And they will reciprocate.

I need my wife’s mercy because:

  • There are times in which I willfully do what I don’t want to do.
  • There are times in which I unintentionally choose things which will hurt her.
  • There are qualities or characteristics she desires in a husband which I do not have.
  • We are both prone to miscommunication and misunderstanding the actions of one another.

Because of this, I need my wife to be merciful to me. And she needs me to be merciful to her.

What Mercy Is Not

While mercy might express itself in a variety of ways, it’s important not to misunderstand what it is.

Mercy is not denial. Ignoring problems within the relationship is not an act of mercy. Denial is born of fear and cowardice, not love. Couples who refuse to confront problems are failing to love one another (and themselves) properly.

Mercy is not excusing poor behavior. Seeing a problem, but excusing consistently bad behavior is not mercy.

Mercy is not becoming a door mat. Mercy is an act of strength. It isn’t allowing another person to do whatever they want to do to us. It doesn’t mean we continually suffer because of the poor choices of others.

What Mercy Is

Mercy is an action. It’s not a feeling. Saying “she was merciful” does not simply define how she felt, it defines how she acted. It’s the byproduct of feeling love, compassion, empathy, and grace. But mercy is ultimately an act.

It’s the kindness of a spouse to patiently endure the negative consequences of my faults, while assisting me in making improvements.

It’s the self-control of a spouse not to return evil for evil, but instead to love even when it’s undeserved.

It’s the humility of a spouse to understand that while our weaknesses express themselves differently, they are the same.

A good marriage can’t exist without mercy. In the best of scenarios, marriage is defined by two people continually giving and receiving mercy.

I need many things from my wife, but what I need most is mercy.

4 Responses to What I Need from My Wife
  1. Shane Jennings Reply

    Great advice Kevin. My wife and I just celebrated our 18th anniversary this weekend and welcomed our 9th child last month. I think that one of the reasons we are so happy together is that we truly hold no grudges. We both want the other to be as comfortable as possible and would each rather bear the greater burden. Thanks for your blogs. They are very insightful.

  2. wesleymusgrove Reply

    I really enjoyed this article. Super helpful and a great reminder to extend mercy throughout the day!

  3. Lee Reply

    This is well written and something we should all take to heart.

  4. Cindy Reply

    “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13b

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