Every man claims to love his wife as much as he possibly ever could.
And that right there is a problem.
It is a problem because on the other hand, most women are always thinking of how to be better wives, often discussing how they can improve as wives, often seeking advice and even reading about it. It is in deed hard to find a woman who claims to have even mustered the art of submission. We are always trying, and failing, and trying some more.
And yet, the two biblical instructions explicitly given to husbands and wives for the marriage relationship are these (Ephesians 5);
“Wives, submit to your husbands…. Husbands, love your wives“
In my previous blog post I addressed wives on the submission question, and it was a tough call on them. Today I make good my promise to write on the question that was a most natural response from the women, “What about the men?”
However, let it be clear that both wives and husbands are to do their part not because their spouses are doing theirs, but because it is the honourable thing to do, because we answer to a higher call than giving an eye for an eye.
Many ideas, quotes, books and notions have been written on how a husband ought to love his wife, but the Bible remains the chief authority on that subject, and offers the most profound love-truths. It shall therefore serve as a reference point for today’s blog post
Wives, I encourage you to read this so that you can recognize it when you are really loved and give thanks, and so you also know how you can specifically pray for your husband regarding his love for you.
- Love her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)
This is not complicated. The church is referred to as “the bride” and “the wife” of Christ. What did Christ do for the Church? He gave up a heavenly position to save the church, and even now He lives to intercede for us! The greatest expression of love is in how a person lays down his life for his friends. Who is the priority in your life? What is the most recent example of how you recently considered your wife above yourself? How much have you laid down for her sake …for her emotional security, her financial stability, her joy, her enjoyment, and her comfort? For you to truly love your wife as she ought to be loved, she has to be your main concern, a priority beyond your own self.
- Love her enough to presentably present her (Ephesians 5:27)
A dear friend of mine likes to tell me that we can always know a woman who is loved by her appearance. I totally agree.
Christ’s main concern for the church is to make us holy, to present us as radiant, glorious, spotless in the sight of God.
You too, if you love your wife, we will see it in her look.
Of course, a single woman can always look good, and a wife can try to as much to measure up to her perception of looking good, but if a married woman is unloved at home, it will show. The hints of sadness will definitely come up, on her face or in her speech, regardless of her adorning herself with expensive attire, make-up or jewellery.
On one extreme, a wife who does not feel loved will not care how she looks like to you, you will see her get drabber by the day. On another extreme, she will dress to attract outside masculine attention, consciously or subconsciously. Either way, her look will be the mirror through which the world sees your love for her. Look at her today and judge for yourself how much love you have been giving her.
- Love her as you love your own body – nourishing her, cherishing her (Ephesians 5:27)
This is a very rosy statement coming from a man, but living it is quite the deal.
As a man, you do not abandon yourself to starvation, and when you are sick you do not downplay it. If you cut your finger you attend to the bleeding.
How about your wife? How sensitive are you to her needs – her pains, physical and emotional? Is it a concern to you if your wife leaves home disgruntled, or do you assume that she will go fix her face and her emotions at work- because protocol demands it?
You must have seen a wife and a husband who look so different. A husband looking all glam in a crisp neat suit and a wife looking like the entire world-weight is on her shoulders. You have seen a man tuned into iTunes while the wife’s phone barely has proper network connection. A man who will give endless tales of the continents he has been to while the wife cannot sustain a conversation regarding the country next door. (This mostly happens to Stay-Home-Mums, wives with low-paying jobs and those who are not intellectually and academically exposed).
That is your example of a wife who is not nourished. The Greek transliteration of the word “nourish” refers to “bringing up to maturity”, and not merely feeding. It means bringing her up to your level as a man, in the knowledge of The Word of God and in the knowledge of the contemporary world.
This responsibility is not to be abdicated simply on the basis that your wife is working and earning her own money. It is your role as the leader of your home and the provider. Cherish her; be warm towards her, dote over her. That is what it is to truly love her.
- Love her in a deeper way than you do your own parents (and siblings) (Ephesians 5:31)
“A man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife…”
This is quite a straightforward instruction, yet one that most husbands can’t, or won’t, uphold. It is not uncommon to hear husbands defending a misguided lie that they share a special bond with their mothers and the wife must just accept and learn to live with it. Your wife is not in competition with your mother, father or siblings, but once she becomes your wife, she is the one to consider before you have any dealings with your parents or siblings. In your relationship hierarchy, she comes before them. If you ever have to choose whom to please, you choose her. Your parents should not in any way call the shots in your marriage, but they must always be treated with the honor they deserve.
Point to the unmarried men; choose your wife with care. She is a big deal in your life! She is the biggest deal!
Do not abandon your parents and siblings. In fact, scripture requires that you provide for them. But there is an order. Wife comes first. In every consideration and every allocation, she does. Wives are too tired to keep fighting for positions with their in-laws, and it takes a real man to stand up for his wife, on her side. I pray that in you there is such a loving man, not a by-stander in a complex relationship that you have brought upon her.
- Praise that woman (Proverbs 31)
We all know about the husband to the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31. He sits at the city gates with the leaders of the city. He has a fabulous wife, a home-keeper and a brilliant investor. What is his response?
He praises her, “Many women have excelled, but you surpass them all!”
The woman is also praised at the city gates. That means he also praises her when she is not with him, contrary to a husband somewhere who never makes any public reference to his wife nor shows it, in the pretext that he does not engage in P.D.A (Public display of affection). A man whose marital status is hardly known. Yet he still believes he is loving.
It is beautiful how the Bible has all teachings and illustrations on how to love a woman, and how to express this love her (read the books of Solomon) yet it is unimaginable how we look for extra tips methods in all the wrong places and continually do it wrong.
- Measure yourself up against the Love chapter (1 Corinthians 13)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NIV)
Allow me to assume that you are a husband and your name is John. Replace the word LOVE in the Scripture above, and judge for yourself if these statements define you:
- John is patient,
- John is kind.
- John does not envy,
- John does not boast,
- John is not proud.
- John does not dishonor others,
- John is not self-seeking,
- John is not easily angered,
- John keeps no record of wrongs.
- John does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
- John always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
If this kind of statements are not a true definition of you, please work on your love, and you will enjoy marriage as God intended it; as a relationship so deep and supreme that it is chosen to reflect God’s love for His people. If you get this relationship right, it is an accomplishment incomparable to anything else in life.