For many years, I treated every celebration for my husband as if it were my own. I thought this was how I could love him as myself.
But it wasn’t real love.
My tendency was to do the things that I wanted for myself or to create scenarios I thought were supposed to happen on Father’s Day. At my worst, I probably compared my efforts to my friends and tried to appear like I was a ‘good wife’.
When my husband wasn’t thrilled with my efforts, I felt offended and hurt. Not to mention, comparison always left me feeling defeated. It took more time than I care to admit, but now I have a better understanding of how completely different our desires and expectations are for these kinds of milestones. I also understand that real love looks like putting his interests above my own (Philippians 2:3-4).
More importantly, I’m accepting that what brings my husband joy to receive is not necessarily what brings me joy to offer. And one of the best gifts we can give our spouse is to show them that they are seen and understood by us, that we fully accept who they are, even in the ways they are different from us.
This Father’s Day, one way I hope to honor my spouse is to listen to what he actually wants, even if it seems more or less than what I would want. Instead of focusing solely on events or gifts, I can choose to honor him with my words in front of my children, to model for them what it means to show love and respect. If I want to surprise him, I can offer him something I know is in line with his love language. I can also facilitate my kids offering the kinds of gifts he will actually appreciate. Maybe in place of tangible gifts or cards, he would prefer an outing or a homemade meal.
What will bless him most is not the object itself or the cost but showing him love in a way he can receive it. This is what true love looks like—that even in our giving, we elevate the other person above ourselves (1 John 3:16).