“The caliber of a man is revealed in the countenance of his wife.”
I don’t know who said it, but it sure rings true. A husband can’t hide his treatment of his wife. It is written all over her face.
If I were a man, I would think more than twice about getting married… even if I were crazy in love. A husband’s call is a high and holy road!
In the context of Biblical mutual submission (Eph. 5:21-33), husbands are commanded in Scripture not to lead, but to submit to their wives by loving their wives with the very love that the Savior lavishes His bride (Eph. 5:25-30, Col. 3:19).
The verb is l-o-v-e. The loving is the leading. And that love sacrificed, even to the point of death. Pretty high calling, wouldn’t you agree?
The husband’s calling is the highest in the Scriptures. No other calling parallels Christ’s call to die for His bride. In fact, in loving his wife a husband is called to his own Calvary. Submission, sacrifice, discomfort, grief and suffering are all encountered along his road to death. In learning to love her as Christ loved the church, he walks in the very footsteps of Christ which is the highest honor of all.
It is interesting to note that only after Christ loved the church unto death did she love Him in return. She loved Him because He first loved her (1 John 4:19). This principle illustrates the universal law of sowing and reaping illustrated in Ephesians 5:28b, “He who loves his own wife loves himself.” Receiving what you have given is called reaping. When you stop trying to change your wife and simply learn God’s design of loving her, you will eventually reap in joy (Ps. 126:5). For a wife who receives love spills it right back to her lover, and gladly. Mutual submission in marriage is the divine cycle in action starting at the head with the husband.
But for husbands the question remains: how do you love your wife?
Women can carry similar traits, but husbands must learn that each has her own particular set of individual characteristics and issues to be considered in loving her. Milan Yerkovich, co-author of How We Love (Amazon) and frequent co-host of New Life Live radio show (WNIV 970/1400AM M-F 2pm EST), is an outstanding gentleman and hero in the marriage department. He regularly encourages men to treat their wives as treasures by “getting a Ph.D.” in their wives’ hearts, souls, wounds and needs. As he has learned to love his wife, Kay, he teaches men to love their wives.
Milan is able to love Kay well because he has learned –not from suspicions or from projecting on to her how he wishes to be loved– but from her how she specifically needs to be loved. Milan’s advice is an excellent first step for husbands choosing to take the high road.
In order for husbands to take this macho step, they first must be willing to allow God to love and heal them (James 5:16) within the company of other men. All along the way they must identify, extract and lay aside anything and everything within themselves that impedes the loving-your-wife process (Heb. 12:1). And yes, that includes that nasty three-letter word, ego. My definition of ego is “self outside of Christ” or “self on throne of heart (Eph. 4:22).” More destructive to a wife and children than any other force is an egotistical husband. And unfortunately, when your wife doesn’t respect you, your children most likely won’t either.
So, if you are married and are willing (or willing to be made willing) to be taught how to love your wife as Christ loved the church, you’re way ahead of the game! (Outstanding book by Ken Nair, Discovering the Mind of a Woman , is a must read.)
If you are married and are not willing to be taught how to love your wife as Christ loves the church, you have a colossal need to humble yourself or be broken. If I were you, I would immediately uncover myself and submit to God before He eventually uncovers you. For you will reap what you sow in this life, especially in the marriage relationship.
For those not married and willing to learn to love a wife, by all means, allow the body of Christ to love and heal you, then marry very prayerfully. (Read and apply How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloud at Amazon.)
However, and most importantly, if you are not married and are not willing to learn, please, find another pursuit in life, anything besides marriage. With all due respect, you are not marriage material.
I used to share jokingly with my husband that when he behaved thoughtlessly or selfishly with me that he was actually hurting himself. It was much more practical and efficient for him to do as follows:
1. place thumb on edge of workbench
2. grab largest hammer in other hand
3. slam thumb firmly with hammer
4. watch thumb heal quicker than damage done to relationship
Not that I would intentionally be ugly to him, but that he would automatically reap what he sows in God’s economy since we are one flesh. Why would he want to mistreat me if we are one (Eph. 5:28)? It was simply masochistic for him to make such a choice. Thank God he has learned that loving his wife is much more beneficial for him than being rude to her.
Understanding your wife might seem impossible, but her word pictures can sometimes be helpful. When I used to suffer with PMS, I would attempt to explain to my husband my unfortunate situation by calmly instructing him as follows:
1) open garage door
2) get into car
3) start engine
4) adjust gear to DRIVE
5) with full force press brake pedal with left foot
6) while keeping left foot applied firmly to brake pedal, with full force press gas pedal with right foot
7) maintain equal force on both pedals for three days
In addition to making efforts to understand your wife, installing a customer service desk in your heart can prove effective in providing an internal platform for receiving input from your wife, even those issues you’d rather avoid…”Hello. Welcome to my heart. How may I help you today?”
Could you be giving lip service to “loving your wife?” Or are you serious about this command? Do you want to walk in Christ’s footsteps? Then consider accepting His specific standard and calling to you as a husband. When you man up, He will show up.
1. Take Milan Yerkovich’s and Ken Nair’s advice to heart. Order the books. Apply what you learn. Let them be your mentors. Consider starting a “real men” group: “Real men love their wives.” (See New Life Ministries and Life Partners Christian Ministries on Resources page)
2. Humble yourself and ask your wife what she needs from you while you stand behind your customer service desk.
3. Ask her to give you word pictures.
4. Listen sincerely to her words. Think empathy.
5. Remember them.
6. Apply them appropriately.
7. Stop blaming her and deal with your issues. That’s where you prove your manhood.
8. Be willing for her to teach you about herself. Be proud to learn about her.
9. Gather with other/older men who have the same goal. Glean wisdom from them.
10. With support and perseverance, you can run and win the race of loving her!
For more in context reading on this neglected issue, go to bible.org
1 John 4:19
We love Him, because He first loved us.
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.
Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.
They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her [Israel] and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart. There I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor [troubling] to be for her a door of hope and expectation. And she shall sing there and respond as in the days of her youth and as at the time when she came up out of the land of Egypt.