For Part 1 of this series (More Than a Feeling: How Husbands Should Love Their Wives), click here:
The Bible says that husbands are supposed to be considerate with their wives and love them like Christ loved the church (Eph. 5 & 1 Pet. 3). Unfortunately for me, this goes completely against my personality. I’m a pretty selfish person by nature, and if you asked people that knew me growing up, I doubt anyone would describe me as considerate. I’m competitive, aggressive, and used to make jokes at other people’s expense. Then God changed me and gave me a heart to follow Him. I’ve seen God’s call to husbands in Scripture and learned how God wants me to live this out in my marriage. So why would a husband want to put so much effort into his marriage? And how can an inconsiderate man like me ever be a loving and understanding husband?
What’s at Stake?
One of the main things I’m encouraging men to do is to put some effort into loving their wives in a way that makes her feel loved and looks out for her benefit. This will be difficult, and for most of us men, it won’t come naturally. It’s much easier to be selfish and just worry about our own needs. So why bother with all this hard work?
The passage in Ephesians 5 about husbands loving their wives follows under a section about being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Christians show they’re filled with God’s Holy Spirit by singing praises and being thankful to God, sharing that joy with others, and submitting to one another. Wives live out this Spirit-filled life specifically by submitting to their husbands. Husbands find their special role in the Spirit-filled walk through loving their wives. Whether or not the husband is naturally inclined to treat his wife this way, this is a work of the Holy Spirit that is fitting for all Christian husbands.
Another effect of a marriage modeled after Ephesians 5 is that it presents the Gospel to the world. Our marriage should be a picture to the world of what Christ has done. Men ought to love because they have been loved first by Christ. We ought to lead our homes and make them holy because that’s what Christ has done for us. Our faithfulness to our wives ought to mirror God’s faithfulness to us in salvation. Our love and our marriage should show the world just how good God is and how much He has transformed us.
How can we do this?
There are several things men can do to begin loving their wives like Christ loved the church. A great place to start is to read the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. This can help change our view of love from a warm fuzzy feeling into a lifestyle of service and seeking the good of others. If we’re going to love like Christ, it is also imperative to know how Christ loved. Read the gospels and find out who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Then you’ll understand what a high calling this is.
Know your wife. Learn about what she likes and enjoys. Find out things that make her happy, from activities you can do together to ways you can serve her and take care of her. Figure out how she feels love, then make some real effort to do those kind of things for her. This takes time, effort and thought, but it’s worth it. Your wife is made in the image of God and is His gift to you (Prov.18:22;19:14). Show her that you know how special she is.
An important part of loving your wife is listening to her. This serves two purposes. It shows that you care about her as a person enough to put aside your own thoughts and consider hers. Listening lets her know that she is valuable to you. In addition, listening allows you to know your wife better. You can find out how to love her and meet her needs based on what she tells you.
Become the spiritual leader of your home. You’re going to have to follow and know God on your own. Although this might seem too hard for some men whose wives have more biblical knowledge, it’s not impossible. Leading your family in godliness doesn’t mean that you have to know all the answers. You don’t have to memorize the whole Bible to share a proverb you read about hard work. You don’t have to have an airtight argument about the millennium (or even know what that means) to discuss a sermon on heaven. Take some initiative and lead.
Work hard for your family. Men ought to provide for and take care of their families. (1 Tim. 5:8) Don’t make your wife work overtime to pay the bills; sacrifice yourself and put in the extra work so that she doesn’t have to. If things need to get done around the house, volunteer to do it yourself instead of waiting for your wife to get it done. Be a servant leader and give yourself up for the good of your family.
For those single people out there: If you’re a man, become a considerate person. Learn what love is and begin loving people. It’s going to be pretty hard to love your wife if you’ve been practicing being selfish your whole life. If you’re a lady, look for a man that will treat you with the love and respect in Ephesians 5. This kind of man will know the gospel, show love and service to others, and understand and treat women as fellow heirs of God. If that’s what you’re looking for in a man, he might just be the kind of guy you would want to follow.
God calls on men to love their wives and give themselves up for their families. We need to learn to think about people other than ourselves, putting their needs above our own and serving them. Jesus’ life and death are our model for marriage, and our witness to the world depends on the way we love our wives.