Just Tell Me What I Want to Hear
My husband had this annoying habit when we were first married: He would tell me the truth.
I would request his opinion on my shirt, for example, and he would casually let me know if it looked sloppy or less-than-flattering. He would thank me for the meal from my shiny new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but upon my further inquiry, he’d suggest I cut back on the garlic.
Or I would begin a well-known wifely script. “I feel so [insert adjective]. I can’t believe you’re attracted to me.”
My husband was supposed to reply, “I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world.” But he would recognize my moments in the quicksand of insecurity, my attempts to drag him in.
A truth-teller would not speak with inaccurate superlatives. Instead, he extended a branch: “I’m guessing you don’t really think that’s true. I’m not going to tell you that you’re the most beautiful woman in the world; you wouldn’t believe me anyway!”
Really? Try me.
“But you are beautiful to me.”
Kind of anti-climactic. Didn’t he know how this script was supposed to read? Who is this guy? Just tell me what I want to hear!
At times he thought that I wanted to be reminded of scriptural principles. (And I did. But not when I was sinning, for Pete’s sake.) Not in a self-righteous way. Just carefully, honestly telling me what I needed to hear.
He would also be gut-level honest about sin he was struggling with. At first I’d feel awkward. Or disappointed. Or extremely angry.
But the more this happened—and the more I started to reveal my own struggles—the more intimate and refining our relationship became. I felt closer to him as we confessed our failures to each other, then asked forgiveness and even quietly held each other accountable to change.
As he grew more gentle, more careful about his timing and choice of words, I recognized something valuable and rare: trustworthiness.
When my husband complimented me, he wasn’t just trying to make me feel good. His looks of admiration were from a man who’d been with me in the battle, fighting with me and helping me anticipate the places I could be wounded by my own sin—or wound others.
Today I never doubt whether my husband is being straightforward. The white lies that grease the wheels of so many relationships are not welcomed in our home.
I don’t worry that he will let me continue looking tacky in an outfit, or being tacky in the way I speak to our children. Just as I now tenderly bathe our 6-month-old son in the sink, washing the peas out of his neck so that they won’t smell, or the dried applesauce sticking the strands of his hair together, my husband cleanses me with the water of the Word. “That He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27). My husband nourishes me and cares for me like he cares for himself.
My husband has grown a lot in our 10 years of marriage. But I’m thankful to report that he has retained one character trait of surprising depth and worth: telling the truth.
Written by Janel Breitenstein
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