Recognizing Mature Love in Your Marriage

Dear Beloved Reader,

As we approach Christmas, my heart swells with gratitude and love, making this season one of my favorite times of the year. The gentle weaving of gratitude and the gift of pure love continually remind me to focus on what matters most as we close this year and prepare to embrace the next with great anticipation and curiosity.

Mature Love, like a brilliant star, finds its most profound source in the Pure Love of Jesus Christ. While we seek love from those around us, practice self-love in healthy ways, and draw from the boundless love of the Lord, let us also honor and share the love that Jesus brought into the world.

Question:

The Bible says that husbands are to love their wives, but my Christian husband says I should love myself so that I don't need the love of a man. Isn't he shirking his duty as a husband to encourage and care about my emotions?

LeAnne's Response:

Healthy marriages involve interdependence, where both partners have a strong sense of self AND rely on each other for love and support.

In the journey of relationships, we often encounter moments of reflection and self-discovery that lead to important conversations with our partners. Many of you have asked about the delicate balance between self-love, marital love, and personal growth within your relationships.

Today, let's dispel the myth that self-love and marital love are mutually exclusive. They can and should coexist harmoniously within a Christian marriage.

Navigating the complexities of marriage is both challenging and rewarding, and your question touches on the importance of understanding this delicate balance. 

The Bible provides crystal clear guidance on the significance of love within marriage, emphasizing the husband's role in loving his wife unconditionally. Ephesians 5:25 reminds us of the sacrificial love husbands are called to offer, mirroring Christ's love for the church. The relationship between a husband and wife should reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. Mature love, mutual respect, freedom to be and to grow individually as well as in unity.

It's essential to recognize that self-love, when grounded and rooted in a healthy perspective, complements the love within a marriage. Sister, let that sink in for a moment. 

Let's clarify the concept of Self-love.

Self-love is an awareness, acceptance, and acknowledgment of your inherent worth and value as a beloved creation of God, as well as caring for your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being. You are worthy of love! Self-love does NOT diminish the need for love within your marriage but enhances your capacity to give and receive love.

Your husband's encouragement for you to love yourself may stem from his desire to see you flourish personally and emotionally. Fostering self-love allows you both to bring your best selves to the marriage, inviting enrichment and a life filled with mutual support and the freedom to love.

However, it's crucial to approach his words to you with discernment. His emphasis on you growing in self-love to not “NEED a man” (him) could be a way to avoid taking full responsibility for nurturing your relational and emotional well-being. If you suspect this might be the case, it's important to address your concern through open and honest communication.

Start with prayerful preparation for a conversation with your husband about emotional needs and concerns. Seek to understand his perspective. I encourage you to find your brave and get curious. Please don't continue to live in confusion-land. 

Communication between you and your husband will help clarify expectations and empower both of you to bring your best selves to the relationship. Self-love does NOT diminish the need for love within your marriage but enhances your capacity to give and receive love. Put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly and read that again. Out loud this time. Take a deep breath- and add “I’ve got this, and God has me.”. 

Put your brave on. You are not alone.

The first question I suggest you ask him is an invitation to get curious about your man's perspective. It opens the door for him to share his thoughts and feelings about self-love and personal growth within your marriage. By inviting his viewpoint, you may gain insight into his intentions and desires for your relationship. His responses will reveal the condition of his heart.

Question #1: “Please help me understand why you've been telling me to focus on self-love and personal growth. What does this mean to you in our relationship?”

Question #2: “Have you noticed any specific changes or challenges in our marriage that prompted you to emphasize self-love and growth? I'd like to hear your thoughts.”

This second question encourages your husband to reflect on the dynamics of your marriage, inviting him to share if there have been specific changes or challenges that led him to emphasize self-love and personal growth. By exploring these insights together, you have the opportunity to uncover any underlying issues or concerns that may have prompted his comments.

Conversations like this provide an opportunity to align your values, explore your individual and shared goals, and navigate the delicate balance of our humanness.

Initiating this conversation is brave. It can be a transformative step in your relationship. It allows both of you to reflect and connect, expressing your perspectives, concerns, and desires openly. Mutual understanding will pave the way for connection, and clarity and debunk any myths.

During the conversation, listen actively and be curious. The goal here is to hear one another. What could be different if you were able to strengthen your connection and work together to nurture and cultivate a mature marriage? Lord willing, curious questions just may invite a stronger bond between you and your man. 

Remember, safety in communication is a cornerstone of any relationship. It's not God's intention for anyone to endure harm, abuse, or emotional distress within a marriage. Embrace these conversations as opportunities for information, clarity, and growth.

If your husband dismisses or ignores your request for conversation or your concerns, emotions, or needs without offering support or understanding, he is lacking empathy and avoiding emotional responsibility.

If he becomes defensive or reactive when the topic of emotional connection or relationship issues arise, understand that he is not capable or willing to address your concerns in a mature way right now. 

As we weave the tapestry of giving and receiving love, we mirror the love of our Savior, making our lives a testament to His enduring message. This Christmas season, may the radiant light of Jesus Christ shine brightly through your hearts, illuminating the world with the warmth of His perfect love.

You don't have to tackle your problems all by yourself. Sometimes we just can't do it alone. We need the support of like-minded people to help us take the next step. JOIN US FOR EMPOWERED TO CHANGE 2024!

Dear readers, What other relationship myths would you like to bust?

5 Comments

  1. Caroline Abbott on December 6, 2023 at 10:49 am

    Excellent advice LeAnne. When I counsel my couples, I recommend interdependence. Each partner should have their own lives, own friends, own hobbies and own spiritual walk. Then, they should also have joint things together that they enjoy as well, along with love respect and care for and from each other. I experienced a marriage where I was never allowed to ask anything of my husband, it was hell. My second marriage is interdependent and it is a joy. I like the questions you recommended she put to her husband. The way he answers these will be very telling.

  2. LeAnne Parsons on December 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    Thank you Caroline for sharing your encouragement and thoughts here! I appreciate your heart so much. May we all learn to walk into interdependence… one safe step at a time.
    Coach LeAnne

  3. LeAnne Parsons on December 12, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    Relationships are complex- we seek to unravel untruths and shine light into the dark corners . Thank you all for sharing your time, and thoughts with us here. It is an honor to walk with you into healthy land. One step at a time.

  4. thulsidass on July 3, 2024 at 8:13 am

    Thank you for this insightful article on mature love. Your wisdom helps couples understand the depth and growth of true marital love. It’s refreshing to see such a balanced, thoughtful approach to nurturing lasting relationships.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 3, 2024 at 8:50 am

      Thank you for walking with us this side of heaven!

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