Leah the Unloved Wife

Leah the unloved wife

Leah the Unloved Wife is part of an ongoing series, Portrait of a Godly Wife

Light began to peek through the seams of the tent. Morning was inevitable. Leah knew Laban’s charade would soon come to a heartbreaking end. She drew the blanket close to her chin, savoring the warmth and misdirected love of her husband, Jacob. As soon as the light from the sun hit her homely face, her heart would lie in a million pieces on the floor, right where she had become Jacob’s wife. He would be angry about the bridal swap; Rachel, his beloved, replaced by her older sister, Leah. Could he ever learn to love her as he loved Rachel?

And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Genesis 29:25

So began the long, sad marriage of Jacob and Leah. With a marriage built on deceit and trickery, Leah would never find her happily ever after. She was a sister wife, the unloved, the rejected.

So Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Genesis 29:30

Have you ever been there? Second place, last choice, alone? It may not be the other woman. Maybe it is a sport or hobby that captures your husband’s time and affection. Work can also be the mistress in a marriage. Even good things like ministry, service, and children can take priority over a wife.

We are left to sit in the shadows, feeling alone and rejected. Unloved.

You have heard it before: feelings do not always reflect reality. This is the case in Leah’s story. While she feels rejected and unloved, she is, in fact, chosen and valued.

When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called is name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. Genesis 29:31-34

During these years of sorrow and pain, God walked along side her, granting her one blessing after another. He never left her to suffer alone. He provided joy and hope through many sons.

While I do not know your individual stories, I have walked in marital sorrow and difficulty. There have been seasons of pain and loneliness. No matter the reason you feel unloved, God’s promise is a reality to embrace.

I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them
gladness for sorrow.
Jeremiah 31:13

Our hope lies, not in our husbands’ ability to be everything we need them to be, but in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And Leah.

When Leah bore her fourth son, her heart’s focus shifted from earning the affections of her husband, to praising the God who had comforted her through the dark shadows.

And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Genesis 29:35 (emphasis added)

It is at this moment that Leah enters the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:2-3).

Leah mothered 6 sons and 1 daughter with Jacob. She struggled with her sister for years to win her husband’s love. She never received it. In the end, however, Jacob was laid to rest beside his first wife, his second choice, Leah (Genesis 49:29-31). Both of them a legacy of the ultimate promise, Jesus Christ.

This moment in your history may seem dark. There may be very little in your marriage to warm your heart. I don’t have 6 steps to get him to love you more. I do have this to offer: If he is distant, lost to distractions or misplaced affections, you can turn to your God. He is near. He does care. And He promises “to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Isaiah 61:3).

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He sees our miseries, no matter how small or how large. He knows our circumstances, our feelings, our hurts. And, just as in Leah’s life, he’s willing to step in and create something beautiful in and through us. (Ann Spangler, Women of the Bible)

If you’re trying to find your primary refuge in your husband, if you’ve centered your hope on him, if your security depends on his approval and if you will do almost anything to gain his acceptance–then you’ve just given to a man what rightfully belongs to God alone. (Gary  Thomas, Sacred Influence)

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