By Arlene Pellicane, Crosswalk.com
One of the first movies I saw with James when we were just friends was Princess Bride. We were at a house with other grad students. I looked over at James who had declared our relationship to be merely platonic. But I saw in him my Westley, my true love. He didn’t see me as his princess that night, but in time he did. When you’re dating and falling in love, it’s easy to see Prince Charming and nothing else. Yet every couple eventually comes to the realization they are mere mortals. The butterflies flutter away. The heart stops beating wildly at the sight of your mate. You might wonder where did my Prince Charming go?
But guess what? Your husband may be asking, “What did my fairy tale princess go?” Before you get too carried away with your husband’s faults, let’s be honest and agree that no one is flawless and regal all of the time. If you will ask better questions about your marriage, you will have a happier marriage. Instead of asking “Where did Prince Charming go?” try these three questions instead:
Question #1: Is popular culture taking a toll on your relationship? If you constantly feed your mind with modern sitcoms, romance novels, and popular songs that do not glorify marriage, you will start believing those messages. Your man won’t seem nearly as appealing or exciting as he did before. I think actor Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, God’s Not Dead) is right in his commentary about media bias. I interviewed Kevin for my book 31 Days to a Happy Husband and here’s what he said:
“Hollywood does such a great job of demasculinizing men. If you look at any sitcom, that guy’s an idiot. He’s a moron. His kids are all rolling their eyes. They’ve done that for decades. Kids grow up watching that and they think fathers are idiots. It’s the mom that can do anything and she’s a babe on top of it. They do that a lot in shows. You look before with Father Knows Best or My Three Sons, the dad had smart things to say to his kids. He was a moral man who led by good example. For some reason it’s become funny to make the dad fat and stupid.
Be aware of what you are watching and listening to on your screens. Very subtly, negative messages about your man and marriage can creep in and before you know it, you are jaded against your man.”
Question #2: Do you have unrealistic expectations?
Most days aren’t filled with epic movie moments. Your husband isn’t going to charge into your workplace upon a white horse to rescue you from an evil boss. He’s not going to call the florist and have 100 red roses delivered to your house just because. If you expect your husband to regularly provide over-the-top movie moments, if you expect him to always know the exact right thing to say at the exact right time, you need to change your expectations.
If your husband expected you to wear high heels every day for dinner and show up to bed with amorous intentions each night, you would probably say his expectations were unrealistic. Well, that’s similar to us expecting our husbands will be perfectly romantic, handsome, sensitive and considerate all the time, hanging on our every word. Give your husband a break. Extend to him the same grace you want for your own imperfections. Instead of expecting the unreasonable, look for the faithful ways your husband shows his love for you each day. Whether he’s picking up dinner, changing the oil in the car, putting the kids to bed, or paying bills online, he could use a heartfelt thank you.
Question #3: Are you still seeking to serve? When you were dating, you were more than happy to meet the needs of your beloved. You would drive across town to get his favorite sandwich for lunch. You would sit through a football game just because he liked it. You would rub his shoulders and scratch his back while you talked. Do you still look for ways to serve your prince?
I heard author Gary Chapman say this on Focus on the Family about the turning point in his marriage. He decided to ask his wife these three questions about how he could serve her:
- Honey, what could I do to help you?
- How can I make your life easier?
- How could I be a better husband?
Within three months of this new behavior and attitude, his wife started asking him those same three questions back. Notice it wasn’t reciprocal right away. Dr. Chapman and his wife Karolyn have been happily married for almost 40 years now. Gary says this about his wife, “If every woman in the world was like her, there’d never be a divorce. Why would a man leave a woman who’s doing everything she can to help him? And my goal through these years has been to so serve her that when I’m gone, she’ll never find another man to treat her the way I’ve treated her. She’s gonna miss me!”
When you make it your goal to serve your spouse with the love of Christ, you will have a storybook marriage. Yet it’s counterintuitive to serve. It’s much easier to wait until your husband makes the first move. After all, he’s the one who needs to change right?
Consider the instruction to serve in Galatians 5:13-14: “Serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Do you realize you have the power to make your husband feel like Hercules or a heel, a prince or a pauper? When you show your husband respect and love, he walks through life with his shoulders back. But when you make him feel less than, he sinks down and settles into fulfilling your negative expectations.
The path to a happy marriage is paved with service and gratitude. Look for the noble attributes in your man today, not his faults. As you take notice of his royal characteristics, you will be pleasantly surprised. Your eyes will be opened to see that Prince Charming has been there all along.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at www.ArlenePellicane.com.
Publication date: April 4, 2016