I heard a message on the radio the other day about our “love buckets.” It goes something like this: A husband and a wife each have their own love bucket. They are supposed to fill each other’s bucket by doing nice things for each other, speaking one another’s love languages, serving, and blessing each other. Out of that “fill” in their own bucket, they then fill their spouse’s bucket. It’s a nice idea, but isn’t very helpful to the wife whose husband never fills her bucket. What do you do with an empty bucket?
I spent a lot of years with an empty bucket. I was a career woman for 20 years and was considered a professional success. On the outside, I had it all – two great kids, a successful business, a beautiful house, great clothes, trips, faithful husband – you name it. Except that inside, I was dying. I was stressed, frazzled, and over-worked. My husband and I fought all the time. I was discontented, bitter, and resentful. God rescued me in a dramatic way, and the first area of my life that he moved me to change was my role as a wife.
You see, my bucket was empty, and I was angry with my man for not filling it. I believed in “tit for tat.” I had my list of resentments that I was willing to forgive, IF he would just ask. He didn’t ask. He didn’t agree with my list. This could have continued forever, but God in His perfect wisdom showed me 1 Peter 3:9-10: “Jackie, do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep her tongue from evil and her lips from deceitful speech. She must turn from evil and do good; she must seek peace and pursue it’.”
God wanted ME to bless my husband even when I felt he didn’t deserve it. God wanted ME to control my tongue, to do good toward my husband, seek peace in my marriage, and make this a thing I pursued. Hard stuff. Especially when I didn’t feel like it.
At this same time, I was getting to know Jesus in a personal and deeply intimate way through daily early morning time with Him. I would read my Bible and journal some verses and prayers. I started pouring out all of the gunk in my heart to Him. Jesus started speaking to me through scripture. He started convicting me of my sinful attitude. Most of all, He started whispering to me how much He loved me, how I was His girl, and that He was crazy about me. My bucket was being filled.
Strictly out of obedience, I started to bless my husband. I would hold my tongue when I wanted to scream and yell and demand “my rights.” I would cook him his favorite dinners, ride with him in the car to get a soda and not criticize his driving, not give “my opinion” on how he was parenting our boys. I would watch his favorite TV shows with him and give him a foot massage. I would pray for him, pray for my heart to change, and pray for God’s favor on him. And then the miracle happened. My feelings started changing. My heart moved toward him and I felt love and compassion. It wasn’t just about obedience to God anymore. It didn’t take much time before my husband responded in kindness and love to me. Everything changed.
Forgive me if I make it sound too easy. All marriages are different and marriage is HARD. This didn’t happen overnight. It took years. It still takes daily effort and intention. I need LOTS of time alone with Jesus so he can continue to do surgery on my heart. During the next four weeks, we will talk here on our blog about some practical ways that we can love our husbands well. Won’t you join us?