I met my hubby when he was twelve years old. My mom was his substitute teacher and she came home one day smiling and said, “I met the cutest boy you should check out.”
“Really?” I asked. “What grade did you teach today?”
“Seventh grade,” she answered.
I gave her my grossed-out look and whined, “Mom, I can’t check out a seventh grader, give me a break!” (This while flipping my big 80’s hair over my shoulder.) Like, totally—I was a freshman.
It was 1981 and I did peek. In fact, I remember rounding up my girlfriends and heading to the basketball courts where I heard he played every day after lunch. He really was cute. I didn’t tell anyone I had a crush on him, but at first glance, this boy made my heart flutter.
Skip forward two years to when Roger stepped foot in high school. I was ready. I flirted and even invited him to my sweet sixteen birthday party. To my delight, he came and celebrated my big day with me. Little did we know that eight years later we would be celebrating our wedding day together as Mr. and Mrs. Gibson.
We’ve been married almost twenty-four years, and blessed with three super-kids, Michael, Hannah, and Zoie. They are the heartbeat of our family and we can’t imagine doing life without them.
But here’s the thing. Being married to my best friend didn’t stop the painful, really bad days from coming. Marriage is hard. We learned early on that if something was broken, we fix it. Marriage is a journey, a God-adventure we do together through the awesome days and ugly days and crazy days. That’s what makes a real marriage.
I was blessed to grow up with the best dad in the world, Gary Smalley. As a pastor and respected marriage and family teacher, he taught me (and thousands of others) the valuable lessons of love, honor, respect, and forgiveness in our relationships. His incredible insight set the foundation for the fundamental belief Roger and I have that having a Christ-centered marriage means our relationships with God are more important than the one with each other.
For me, learning how to love, honor, respect, and forgive my husband has been an ongoing, soul-searching journey. I’ve made a million mistakes along the way, and maybe you have too, but God always shows up in our marriages right where we need Him the most. That truth I can count on.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
A few months ago, Roger came home wiped out after a tough day at work. He shared with me how trying a new project with his boss had been. I could see his frustration and hurt as he slumped down on the couch. As I sat down next to him, I continued to listen to him, validating his feelings. But I could tell that didn’t take away the pain in his eyes. During the next thirty minutes, I did three things (I call them the 3 C’s) to encourage my husband. He later told me how much this helped him redirect his hurt to a more positive outlook. I didn’t fix his problem, but I was able to honor him right where he was.
Here are three ways we can encourage our husbands on those not-so-good-days:
- Be Committed: You can never communicate enough to your husband how committed you are to him. To let him know that no matter how tough life may get, you will always be there. Regardless of how long you’ve been married, he wants to know he’s still your man. One of my favorite things to do for my hubby is brag about him in front of his children. I find the car the best place to do this. Out loud, I remind them how much I love their smokin’ hot dad and that I’ll never ever leave him, no matter how hard life gets. We talk often about how much fun we will have when we’re old and gray (and the kids are out of the house). Even when we face those really hard days, we face them together—until our last breath. I want to spend the rest of my days with the man of my dreams and end well. Yes, the kids roll their eyes, but I know deep down they love hearing me brag about their dad. Not to mention what this does for their understanding and expectations for their own future marriages.
- Be a Cheerleader: Being a cheerleader can really help when you feel beat up by life’s hard days. Uplifting and encouraging your husband when he is hurting can make or break the conversation. In my mind, I bring out the pom pom’s and megaphone that he’s #1 on our team. Positive words like “You can do it”, “I believe in you”, or “Fight Fight for Victory!” One of the best ways to cheer your man on is letting him know he’s the best man for the job. Sharing a list of all the wins he’s had in the past often helps him focus on the future wins to come.
- Confidence: When it comes down it, Roger and I are in this together. Probably the most important phrase a man can hear from his wife is, “I trust you.” In the seasons of life, there will be many decisions that have a tremendous impact on your marriage and family. There may be a job change, buying a home, or medical decisions that you and your hubby will need to work through together. In the end, telling your husband that you trust him is the greatest compliment of respect. That means believing he will do what is best for you and your family.
The beauty of marriage is that God created husband and wife to experience life together. In adversity or calmness, it’s meant to be a journey of helping each other. As a wife, we have the honor of letting our husband know they don’t have to face it alone.
We can’t magically fix it, but cheering louder, bragging more, and loving them right where they are is exactly how they make it through the not-so-good days. It’s how we make it through together.
Y’all, I can’t wait to share with you some exciting news coming soon (hint… dusting off my Texan cowboy boots)
This article is also posted on the GROW website.