Reader Question: Do I Love My Husband More than God?

by | Apr 9, 2018 | Faith, For Women, Marriage, Spiritual Intimacy | 8 comments

It can be confusing knowing who's number one when you love your family and God. But God loves us and grows our love for one another! Is it growing love or idolatry?
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We’re supposed to make God #1 in our lives. But how do we know if He is?

Reader Question: How do I know I don't love my husband more than God?This week I wanted to start off with this letter of a newlywed who is overcome with love for her husband–but worried if maybe she loves him too much (that’s a great problem to have! Much happier than most of my questions!)

She writes:

I just recently got married. Yes I was in love with him as my bf and my fiancé but I guess I was kind of holding back because I thought what if something happens in which we parted ways? Now that we are married I’m elated! This is the man I will be with the rest of my life and I can be vulnerable with him and love him and be by his side and share life together. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m falling for him more and more and my heart beats so fast and I feel like I’m on the edge of the cliff and I want to give in to the feeling or emotion but I’m not sure if it’s completely okay. God has always been number one and I know God designed us this way but something inside me keeps asking is it really okay? Can I really give in to this feeling and be so in love with this man? And if I do, will I still be keeping God first? I believe I’m afraid to fall so in love that God is moved out of the picture.

Do you ever struggle to wonder if God is really #1? Do you ever worry that you might love someone else–your husband or your kids–more? I mean, how do we really know? Can we measure degrees of love?

It can be confusing knowing who's number one when you love your family and God. But God loves us and grows our love for one another! Is it growing love or idolatry?

This desire to put God as #1 often makes us do strange mental gymnatics

I remember when my girls were little and I was worried that I loved them too much, I would have these strange thought experiments, like, “if they died, how would I feel? Would I still love God?” And I would work myself up into such a frenzy trying to experience their loss, just to tell if I actually loved God then or not.

Have you ever done something totally counterproductive like that?

You know what I found when my son did die, though? God was there for me and He carried me and He gave me peace in a way that I could never understand (I explained why I’m okay after my son died). The silly thing was that I spent a ton of time before he died trying to prepare myself for the worst, thinking that if I could get used to the idea of him dying, it wouldn’t hurt as much.

That didn’t help. It just stole some moments of joy that I could have had with my son.

When you love God, He’ll carry you through any losses you bear. You don’t have to prove it by sacrificing the thing you love most.

But maybe the problem is focusing in the first place on who we love more, as if it CAN be measured.

Love Is Not Finite

It’s not like your born with 100 units of love, and if you give 10 away, then you have 10 fewer for someone else.

No, love actually multiplies!

I was worried when Katie came along that I would love Rebecca less. But I didn’t. I just had more love in me!

Is God #1 in your life? Why it's fruitless to try to measure whom you love more.

Me and my girls back in 2004

I think this multiplication process works especially when God is in the picture. After all, God is love. So when we know God more, we will naturally love more. Just because you love your husband does not mean that you don’t love God. In many ways, it could be a sign that you do love God!

God is a passionate God, and He made us to experience passion in our marriage. That passion doesn’t take away from our feelings for God; it actually helps us to experience God more.

Love is not finite. When we love God, He grows us to love more, not less!

The problem is not love, you see. The problem is idols.

Jesus told us,

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37). 

Spouses aren’t included in that list, but I think it’s because marriages weren’t primarily built on love back then, so the deepest love you’d feel was for a parent or a child. So He was saying, keep me as #1!

But it’s not because Jesus is jealous of love. It’s because Jesus wants to be first in our lives so that we live in the right way. And when we put something else as our main priority, it can easily become an idol.

For instance, if our marriage matters more to us than God, then we could follow our husband into sin. We could fail to confront our spouse when he or she is doing something wrong because we’re afraid we might jeopardize the relationship. Instead of “spurring one another on to love and good deeds” or standing up for truth, we could slink back because we’re afraid of rocking the boat.

It is easy to make marriage our idol. (I’ve written more about the dangers of idolizing marriage, too). Yes, we have to keep talking to God, listening to God, developing spiritual disciplines so that He becomes big in our lives and so that our faith is ultimately in Him and no one else.

But having Jesus become big does not mean that our husbands become small. It’s simply that when Jesus is first, then our main priority, always, will be “what does Jesus want in this situation?”

And I can practically guarantee you that in the vast majority of circumstances, what Jesus wants is just for you to love your husband more.

So don’t be afraid to love. Don’t hold back! Be recklessly, unabashedly, gloriously in love.

The way to tell if God is #1 in your life is not to try to imagine life without your husband or to hold back from your husband. It’s just to chase after God now, too. God has room for you to love  your husband and Him. He knows that the love is not the same. You’ll understand this better when you have children, but my love for my kids does not diminish my love for their dad, or for God. And holding back does not make you love God more.

Just chase after Jesus and keep your relationship fresh. There’s room enough for both–and the more we love Jesus, the more we’ll love our husbands anyway!

What do you think? Do you ever struggle with what it means to make God #1 in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Phil

    Hey – Good morning Sheila. So my experience with this story and your question is this. I have been given a clear message by listening to God that my marriage is a pathway to HIM. Love Grace so much that I will see HIM. What I have learned is that God holds marriage close to his heart. Very close. However your comment is interesting: Spouses aren’t included in that list,(of idols) but I think it’s because marriages weren’t primarily built on love back then. I guess I kind of figure that while if spouses weren’t included back then it was because God was developing his plan to give man guidance for surrender and obedience first? Regardless marriage is obviously important to God. And while we don’t talk about specific religions around here much except for ones that are dysfunctional of sorts this is where I wonder how right the Catholics are on making marriage a sacrament. I am not there yet with that concept but I am partially open to it. Because it makes sense based on my experience. If you are Loving your spouse the way this lady is talking about it…then you are LOVING GOD. I like that a lot. I can Love God directly. I can love God by loving Grace. I can love God by loving his/my children. I can love God by loving the World. So today I think this article triggered my Love 🙂 Ya know how sometimes you just get distracted by life and things just go along and while nothing is wrong you just get complacent in your marriage? start to take things for granted. I wouldn’t call it a funk….just complacent. I like this lady’s desires for her husband. It really makes me want Grace and it really makes me want to be desired by Grace. For me, I know that if I redirect and focus on the love I have for Grace we can generate that focus on each other and find that Love for God in our oneness. 🙂 Thanks Sheila. Have a good day EVERYONE.

  2. Cassie from True Agape

    Putting God as the center of the relationship is so important so we know that if we love God and if we follow his ways, then we are on the right path. We just share all the love that’s inside our hearts. This post is just so inspiring to love everyone.

  3. Jane

    I used to struggle with the ‘God first’ model because I viewed it as a hierarchy. Now I use a ‘Jesus at the centre’ approach, which is essentially the same thing but easier for me to understand, wherein God is at the centre and I draw my loved ones closer to Him by loving Him and them. This then extends ever outwards – a bit like a solar system, where God takes the place of the sun and we are planets, etc.

    • Sheila Gregoire

      Oh, I love that imagery, Jane! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kay

    Yes! Great post, Sheila. It’s not an either/or scenario but a both/and. The more we fall in love with God, the more that frees us up to fall in love with our spouse.

    But there’s a difference between loving and idolizing, absolutely. So the only thing I’d add is that this “Love High” tends to ebb and flow, and I think there is a temptation to idolize our husband in the negative sense once those warm fuzzies fade. (And they will.) I know I was very convicted a few years into my marriage where I felt constantly disappointed in my husband for not anticipating and meeting my needs, and I realized I was expecting him to do the things for me that only God can do. My husband is NOT enough, and he never will be. But GOD IS. My husband will never be enough to fill that God-sized hole in my heart, and our marriage vastly improved when I released him from that pressure (which set him up for failure). Now I can be okay regardless of whether my husband is “meeting my needs” for love and affirmation or not because ultimately those needs are already met! And I am free to love him fully as I push him to Jesus to meet the needs that I cannot fully meet either, though we both naturally strive to try to be what our spouse needs (not always wants, though, haha) as we chase after Jesus both individually and as a couple.

    • Sheila Gregoire

      Wonderfully put, Kay! I love hearing about the journey you and your husband have been on. It’s very encouraging!

  5. Renae B

    Wow. I love this so much. My eyes literally stung with joy and relief when I saw this as the first thing to pop up when googling what I’ve been struggling with. My heart felt “ahhh yes, I get to read what Sheila says about this! I know I’m in good hands.” I’ve been feeling guilty for enjoying my husband and desiring to be with him and just loving him. It hasn’t always been that way, so this affection for him feels newfound right now. I’m always worried that God is mad at me for enjoying my kids and my husband, or anything else that isn’t God himself. (Thanks ex stepdad for being a power hungry mistake seeking jerk and screwing me mentally for life). This post resonates with me and makes SO MUCH MORE sense than what I was feeling. Thank you..again, for yet another life giving message.

    Side note: I love the new podcast name but please never change the intro song! I do a happy dance every time because the song just encapsulates sunshine and makes me feel at home! Love and peace to y’all!

  6. Susan

    This article really helped me. Thank you for sharing your heart and God’s grace.


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