Despite those sour moments, however, the flavor of our marriage is very sweet.
I owe this all to one factor: Jesus.
I think I know Peter well enough to be able to say that if he didn't have Jesus as the most perfect model of what a bridegroom should be, he would be an pretty terrible husband. But he is a wonderful husband because he is constantly looking to Jesus for how he should treat his bride. He takes very seriously the Ephesians 5 call to love your wife as Christ loves the church. Here are some ways he shows me the love of Christ:
1) He works towards my beauty.
"I'm really glad you went shopping today and bought yourself some nice clothes." Wives probably don't hear this from their husbands very often. But Peter said it to me because he was aware that most of my clothes are still from high school and he wants his bride to look beautiful. Jesus also makes His bride beautiful and gives her the clothes---a metaphor, of course---to do so. Revelation 19:8 says "'it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure'- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. "
2) He washes my feet.
Peter literally washed my feet on our wedding night. He told me he wants to be continually lowering himself to serve me like Jesus set the example of lowering Himself. Jesus washed the feet of men who would deny and betray Him. (And Luke 12:37; apparently there will be another time when He washes our feet?) That is hard to comprehend. But it's made a little more tangible when my husband expresses the desire to serve me in that humble way. In that moment he blew to pieces any notions that he would perceive me as the woman in the kitchen who must answer his every request.
3) He's not okay with my sin.
When I try to talk bad about others, he will listen quietly for awhile and then say something like, "Hope, as long as I've known you, you've always had beef with someone. Why do you think that might be?" That hurts, certainly, but he is constantly helping me see the ugliness of my sin...and the glorious truth that Jesus died for it and has given me new life.
I think a lot of people think Jesus has the disposition of "Come as you are, and stay that way because I just love you as you and don't want you to feel uncomfortable." That is not very loving and that is not at all conducive to, you know, being the Holy God. Jesus knows the wretchedness of our sin even better than we do because Jesus paid for it personally and the Father punished it personally, so God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9.)
4) He loves me when I'm rather unlovable.
It's one thing for Peter to love me when the house is clean, there was a love note from me in his lunchbox, and a delicious batch of beef stew is in the crockpot. But when he comes home to a messy house and the kids are still in their pajamas and the trashcan alone is worthy of consuming the dinner I made, it means a lot more when he looks at me---with makeup that's two days old and a rat's nest in the back of my head---he still prizes me.
So how much more significant that God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
5) He's strong. (And even better, he's weak.)
For the past couple months, Peter's business has just been booming and he has been out pressure washing 10-14 hours a day, 6 days a week...and when he's not out of the house, there are plenty of calls to answer and parts to order and equipment issues to fix. We get to see each other about an hour each day, and he is understandably exhausted. But more often than not, he comes home with a cheerful attitude and is still ready to hug me and speak truth to me when I'm having a bad day.
It's even good when I see Peter's limits, though, because when he comes home in a bad mood and kind of exacerbates my frustration, he is also pointing me to Jesus, who never grows weary and always is able to relieve my burdens. (Matthew 28:11)
In conclusion, my husband is really great, but everything gets messed up whenever I forget he's a shadow of the perfect husband and not actually capable of being the perfect husband. So how grateful I am that the LORD is my husband (Isaiah 54:5.) And how grateful I am that I am able to have a husband who seeks always to remind me of this.
May single women hope in God and---if they want to be married---may they hold out for a man who looks to Jesus for his example of what a husband should look like.
May married women hope in God and see Jesus in our husbands---and when our husbands fail us (which they will) may we see how only Jesus can satisfy.
And may men hope in God and strive to show their wives (or future wives) a tangible idea of how Jesus loves His church.