Be gentle with each other.
“With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity.” Ephesians 4:2
Since Boo's strokes, this one has been very important to our relationship. We both have to be gentle with each other in so many ways. Using a quiet, calm tone of voice and gentle touches with Boo reassure him that I care about him even when he is agitated or confused. In turn, Boo is very gracious with me when I am frustrated. He's good at reminding me that as long as we work together, everything will be alright.
Build each other up.
“Therefore let us follow after the things that are of peace; and keep the things that are of edification towards one another.” Romans 14:19
There are so many outside forces that work to tear us down that we need to actively build each other up. A simple practice that Boo and I began before we were married is to tell each other just one thing that we appreciate about the other every night. Even when Boo is confused, this is still an ingrained habit and he'll remind me if I forget.
Listen without interrupting.
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
This is definitely one on which I need to work. It's such a simple thing. And yet, the simple things are often the hardest. I need to slow myself down and just wait while Boo gathers his thoughts and talks.
Be uncomplainingly hospitable with each other.
“Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another.” I Peter 4:9
Boo's needs are fairly basic. He needs to know where I am and where Boudreaux is. He needs calm and peaceful surroundings. If I meet those few needs, Boo is comfortable in his home. Love calls for me to meet those needs and to meet them without complaint.
Encourage each other in our faith.
“...and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...” Hebrews 10:24
Boo is good about “stirring up” my faith by example. I've learned so much from him, especially since his strokes. Boo prays often during the day. Besides our morning and bed prayer times, Boo often asks to pray during the day. During the night, I often wake to his voice praying for family and friends and thanking God for all his blessings. Such a wonderful example!
Keep our promises to each other.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
Recently, I've realized that I sometimes promise Boo that we'll take a walk, eat a special dessert or talk to a child on the phone without thought. My lack of thought, while not intending to, has hurt Boo sometimes. Rain or heat may make a planned walk unwise. Elevated blood sugar may eliminate a longed for dessert from the menu that day. Confusion in the evening when children are home may make a phone call more frustrating than welcome. I need to be more careful about making promises and more careful about keeping the ones that I make.
Pray for the healing of our spouse.
“...and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5:16
OK, given our particular situation, praying for healing has been a daily part of our lives together. Recognizing God's answer to that prayer isn't always easy. His answers aren't always what I had in mind...and yet, He knows best. Looking back over the last three years, Boo has made tremendous strides and has improved in ways that we were assured by specialists were not possible. One of the ways that I know God has answered our prayer is by giving us both the needed strength and stamina to continue to work toward healing.
Forgive without punishing.
“...forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13
I'm really grateful that Boo is so good at this! When I'm impatient or grouchy, he always forgives me and doesn't bring it up again. That's such a blessing. I know when he forgives me, it's over and when I do the same thing again, he'll forgive me again. I don't have to wait for him to “get even.” It's really forgiven.
Accept each other without conditions.
“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God...” Romans 14:10
For Boo and for me, accepting each other without conditions is a healing and an essential part of our relationship. Both of us have struggled with this. After all, don't we all have preconceived ideas of what our ideal spouse will be like? Reality is different. Being accepted where I am, as I am, is one of the most loving things Boo does for me.
Fight fear by growing together in love.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.”
I John 4:18
So often I find myself worrying about the future, about how to handle problems that just don't exist yet. Boo's fears are more immediate. Still, both of us are learning to uphold each other during these times. We are learning to trust in God's love for us and in our love for each other. Boo is very good at reminding me that I don't need to worry, God is holding us. Words that I need to hear often.