Some men act as though their work is done the moment their bride says “I do.” It’s almost as though, on their wedding day, they take their to-do list and put a check mark next to “find a wife.” Then after the honeymoon, it’s back to work — and back to that to-do list—with many more battles to win and more check marks to make.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this phenomenon in men is that, at the same moment they’re feeling a sense of finality about their wedding day accomplishment, their brides are seeing it as just a beginning.
Choosing Not to Choose
If you undervalue this first year and develop bad habits, a solid marriage will be much more expensive to recover later on—or these habits may eventually destroy your marriage.
If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married. (Deuteronomy 24:5)
Although the prospects of such a thing may sound hilarious or outrageous to you, there are some interesting investment principles buried here that you’ll want to take seriously.
I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking, “C’mon, be reasonable. I’ve got work to do. If I were to take a whole year off, I’d be fired from my job—and that wouldn’t be good for either of us.”
Don’t worry. I’m not advocating unemployment—just intentionality. Your job in your first year of marriage is to become an expert on one woman—your wife—and to learn, better than anyone else in the world, how to “bring her happiness.” And the Old Testament advice is to take one year, ONE WHOLE YEAR. A weekend seminar or a great book about marriage will not be enough—not even the standard five session premarital counseling commitment. There’s no other way to say it: It’s a big investment!
Early in our marriage my wife, Bobbie, said it to me this way: “I just want to know that, even though you’re busy, once in a while you stop and think about me.”
Okay, you might be thinking, but what should my wife do for me? That’s a fair question, but the answer is sobering. This Old Testament admonition says absolutely nothing about your wife’s job. She’s given no direction at all. But this is where the reciprocity part comes in. When you make her happiness your priority, your wife finds herself compelled to make you happy.
Doing everything you can do during this first year to make your wife happy is not just an unselfish act of martyrdom. Having a contented wife will make an immense difference in your own happiness.
The book of Proverbs affirms this idea with a touch of humor—in fact, these exact words appear twice in Proverbs: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”
Though it’s not always the case, unhappy, nagging, contentious, quarrelsome wives are often marred to overly busy, non-responsive, preoccupied, self-absorbed husbands. And, by trial and error, these wives have learned that the only way to get their husbands’ attention is to do something annoying.
Your challenge is to choose to pay more attention to your wife during this first year than you do to your neighbor’s new car or to the NCAA Final Four on television. And when you make this investment during the first year, your marriage will be far more satisfying for the rest of your life. It will be worth millions.
Decide to make the next twelve months the most important year of your life.