Happy birthday to my sweetheart, Eric! This past year has flown by and… simultaneously crawled. A year ago today, Eric enjoyed his birthday strapped to a medical device following his twelve-day stay in our local hospital. Though I hated to see him hurting on his big day, I was so desperately thankful to have him home, alive and well! God is good, and He showed us just how good during that uncertain time.
“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, ESV)
When I think about Eric’s attributes, the first words which come to mind are steadfast, unwavering, matter-of-fact, intelligent, technologically gifted, and lifetime learner; but, another descriptor which may not-so-immediately spring to mind, but unquestionably defines my man, is loyalty. Given his logical nature, it is not obvious to everyone that he carries with him a deep abiding faithfulness to the people and tasks in his life; but, as his closest witness, I can say with confidence that when Eric commits, he commits deeply.
Before Eric and I married, my friend’s mom picked up on this characteristic after talking with him only once or twice. Though extremely analytical and easily annoyed by emotional decision making, Eric holds fast to his decisions even if those decisions inconvenience him. As his wife, knowing he is going to follow through on his promises brings me great joy and I have boundless respect for his determination to let his yes be yes, and his no be no.
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37, ESV)
So, as I was considering how to honor my husband on his special day, I kept going back to the concept of loyalty – something he has shown to me in great measure as our Heavenly Father does – and it led me to ponder the question, “Why is loyalty so important in a mate?”
Perhaps you think, “This is a no-brainer, Heather. A loyal spouse is one who will not cheat on you. We all want that!” And, I agree! We do all want that; however, there is much more to being a loyal mate than just remaining sexually faithful to your husband or wife. Men and women prove their loyalty when their emotions are running high, when they are standing at a painful crossroads, and when everyone is telling them, “Give up! No one would blame you!”
Examples of Loyalty
When Eric was in his early twenties, he worked at a local pizza restaurant. Despite the delicious food, the business started going downhill, In the days leading up to its closure, Eric’s boss could not pay him for his work. As he was getting dressed for work, his mom mentioned, “You know you are not getting paid for the work you are about to do, right?” He responded with a simple, “Yes.” He was aware his work would not yield him financial dividends, but he was loyal to his boss (and also his friend) until the end. Though he could not have continued to work for free as a long-term plan, I have always been impressed that Eric did not walk out on his boss the first chance he got. To me, that said a lot about his character.
Another example of loyalty from my hometown which has stayed with me for seventeen years is the picture of a wealthy gentleman sitting with his sickly wife during a nursing home worship service. He held her and sweetly sang to her. This man owned one of the most successful car lots in town, and he could have easily paid someone to sit with his wife during the day. But, instead, he sat close to her, comforted her with his voice, and looked at her as if she was the most beautiful woman in the entire world. Most likely, he and his wife have passed away from this life, but I hope I never lose the mental image of him singing to his ailing bride with such love in his eyes.
About five months ago, one of Eric’s oldest and dearest friends, Michael, came over for their semi-monthly Bible study. Heading out the door, I grinned at them and joked, “Don’t talk bad about Amanda (his wife) and me while I am gone!” To which Michael quickly responded, “Speaking poorly about our wives is something we do not do.” It is hard not to respect two young husbands who hold to that standard, and Amanda and I are thankful for them!
“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20, ESV)
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10, ESV)
Loyalty in business, loyalty in sickness, and loyalty of tongue are all beautiful glimpses into these men’s characters. They inspire me. I only hope others can say of me, “Heather is faithful.”
Reasons to Hold Out for a Loyal Partner
- Better sleep. Having a loyal mate will help you be at peace within your heart. Though you will experience normal life struggles, having a committed man or woman walking alongside you will help minimize your anxiety; and, knowing he or she will not haphazardly walk out of your life will remove a major stressor from your plate – a stressor many people deal with every day.
- Reaching your potential and your relationship’s potential. A loyal partner helps us have the confidence to reach for the Not only that, but if you marry a faithful man or woman, your relationship stands a better chance at making a difference in the world. If you are committed to using your life for something greater than yourself, but your mate will not commit, you can only go so far. A dedicated team effort is vastly more likely to yield great results.
- Greater ability to reach others. The couples who made the greatest impact on my life were the ones who held it together and refused to give up on each other no matter how bad it got. As a child, the adults in my life seemed flawless; so, when I grew up and realized my grandparents were not perfect, my mentor’s marriage was not perfect, and other people I admired struggled in their marriages, it shook me a bit. But, as I have gone through rocky places in my marriage, I find myself inspired by their decision (and it is a decision) to stay together come what may. If they found a way to keep on loving each other through hellish times, then I know Eric and I can also. The same Holy Spirit who lived in them lives in us, and the Lord can provide the strength. “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3, ESV)
- Fewer conflicts. Fights are often born out of broken promises. Being repeatedly let down leads to a sore heart. When couples are in continuous emotional litigation against each other, it takes the sweetness out of the relationship and takes away time couples could be spending in more productive ways.
- Better experience for your children. If you think it hurts when someone lets you down, wait until someone lets your children down. If Eric broke a promise to me (for a non-legitimate reason), it would hurt my heart. I would be angry. But, if he broke a promise to our children, it would crush me. Your little ones will have to depend on the person you marry even more than you will, so pick someone upon whom they can depend.
Loyalty Meets Common Sense
As excellent as it is to value loyalty and display it in our lives, we must also view it through a safe and healthy lens. At times, showing unwavering loyalty is not the best course of action. Sometimes, we have to step back. Sometimes, loyalty needs to take a backseat to common sense, such as when:
- You are being abused by someone – emotionally, physically, mentally, or otherwise. Your loyalty to that person should not bind you to stay in a toxic environment. If you are not married, get out of that relationship as quickly as possible; seek help and safety immediately. Enlist family and friends to help you get out and do not be afraid to ask for help. If you are married and are being abused, remove yourself from your shared home and seek hardcore, no-holds-barred counseling before returning to the home – if you choose to return.
- You are repeatedly mistreated (perhaps in a business deal). If you are committed to a company, but that company continually lies to you, passes you over for promotions they previously said they would give to you “next time,” disrespects you, and requires you to neglect your family, you may need to pledge your allegiance elsewhere.
- Your loyalty to one person is making it difficult to care for those you vowed to love and honor. We only have so much time and energy to go around, so those in our household – spouses and children – should be at the top of the list. If your loyalty to another person is cutting into your ability to care for your home, it is time to re-evaluate where your loyalties lie.
- Your loyalty is enabling others and allowing them to take advantage of you. You can be loyal in prayer and encouragement, but that does not mean you drop what you are doing every time a friend or family member calls. Sometimes, we are faithful to people who need us to step away. It is possible to remain faithful in heart, but distant in action when the situation calls for tough love.
- Too many commitments will overwhelm you. A wise person knows you cannot be faithful to too many tasks, so he or she takes great consideration before agreeing to make commitments.
Where Does Your Sweetheart Fall on the Loyalty Meter?
Does he follow through on his promises? Does she leave her older friends when she makes newer friends? When he sets his mind to a task, does he find a way to complete it? Does she remove herself when gossip starts swirling around the room?
When our partners are not loyal in more subtle ways, it weakens our trust. Will he remain loyal to me if I fail to be as adventurous someday? Will she stay devoted to me if I am forced to take a lesser paying job in the future? Seeing Eric stay true to his word in his work, friendships, and finances make me feel so secure as his wife. If his character is strong in the “little” ways, it will be all the stronger in the major ones.
Whether you are newly dating or on the road to matrimony, gather examples of your sweetheart’s faithfulness and loyalty (or lack thereof). If you see a trend towards disloyalty in his or her life, do not ignore it. As always, we recommend you address your concerns calmly and respectfully. In some cases, loyalty increases with maturity; but, in others, a lack of loyalty is the result of a compromised character.
Is your significant other loyal – to you, others, and his or her commitments?