When I was nearing the end of my 30 years as an Army chaplain, a more junior chaplain asked me if there was anything I would do differently if I could start all over again. That question intrigued me, and eventually convicted me.
As I thought back over time, I realized I too often used my desire for career success as an excuse to minimize or ignore the needs and desires of my wife. There is a high price to pay for such folly. I returned to that chaplain and said that indeed I would do three things differently and they all involved my wife.
First, I would PAY her more. I would pay her more respect, admiration, and affection. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote,
“Prize her highly, and she will exalt you: she will honor you if you embrace her.” (Proverbs 4:8)
I did not always appreciate the depth and breadth of the sacrifices my wife had to make to follow me around the world. I did not always appreciate the strain on her as a wife and mother. If I could go back, I would recognize the things that she lovingly endured, and find multiple ways to show her how much I loved and appreciated her.
Second, I would PRAY more, I would pray more with and for my wife. Somewhere along the line, blaming time demands and fatigue, I stopped having regular devotions with my wife. We would pray at meals, but that was about it. I heard a preacher say that you can tell how important your spouse is to you by where they come in your daily prayers, and how much time you devote to them in your prayers. I realized that I had lost my azimuth on both of those. The Apostle Peter, who had been married, said,
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)
As husbands, not only do our marriages suffer but our prayer lives suffer when we ignore our wives.
Finally, I would PLAY more. I would date her, as I did when we were courting. I would find things for us to do that would make us laugh and create pleasant memories. I would go on more walks hand in hand with her. I would snuggle her and watch movies on TV. I would find as many ways as I could to show her how much I enjoy being her husband. King Solomon put it like this,
“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” (Prov 5:18-19)
That is what I would do differently. This is what every husband should strive to do. As the adage says, “The more you invest in a marriage, the more valuable it becomes.” It is time to get our priorities straight. It is time to be rich.
CH (COL-ret), USA