What is your worst fear in marriage? Is it that you will do all you can to love and respect unconditionally but your spouse will not respond? If so, you are not alone in that fear. I hear of this concern often from husbands and wives around the country. But 1 Peter 3:6 tells us to do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
But how should you proceed? What if you have moved forward in good faith with unconditional love and respect, but your spouse has not responded?
As Jesus spoke of the trials and tribulations believers might have to go through for Him, He mentioned that “a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:36). For you, it may feel just this way. So should you simply say, “This Love and Respect thing doesn’t work”?
When you love or respect unconditionally, you are following God and His will for you. Ultimately, your spouse and your marriage have nothing to do with it. You are simply demonstrating your obedience and trust in the face of an unlovable wife or a disrespecting husband. Unconditional love and unconditional respect will be rewarded. I call this the Rewarded Cycle. Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5:46). Jesus could have had your troubled marriage in mind when He said that.
I believe Paul also had your marriage in mind when he penned Ephesians 6:7-8: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free” (NIV). Paul is saying that whatever we do as to the Lord we will receive back from the Lord. In marriage, everything you do counts, even if your spouse ignores you! This is what the Rewarded Cycle is all about: His Love Blesses Regardless of Her Respect; Her Respect Blesses Regardless of His Love.
If you are feeling alone in your marriage, and your spouse is not responding to your efforts, will you allow this to encourage you? You are not alone. Your efforts to love and respect unconditionally are not going unnoticed by God! He is for you and He WILL honor you for your obedience. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for more on the Rewarded Cycle and the rewards that are in store for you.
Excerpts taken from Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.