Love Your Wife
I remember back when Sarah and I were engaged our friends and family thew us an engagement party. One of the things incorporated into the event was a scrapbook that had a page dedicated to marital advice everyone could write in. This seems somewhat humorous to me now, considering more than half of the people present weren’t married themselves, not to mention that marital advice-giving was hardly kept contained to one page in a scrapbook.
What I found interesting was that the advice all seemed very inconsistent. Some would say you need to spend time with your spouse doing the hobbies they like; others would say you should let them have their time alone to do it. Some said the key to a happy marriage was spending time together; others said it meant not being too dependent on one another. Ideas concerning how to control the budget, manage vacations, incorporate immediate families, and share friends all varied. It seemed that no one really agreed on how to build a successful marriage.
In addition, resources from the Christian world also seemed to conflict with one another. While highlighting the differences between men and women, some authors said it is the man’s job to speak more like a woman, while another said the woman needs to learn how to interpret her husband.
Through it all I have come to a one sentence conclusion for all this information that beats them all. Love your wife. This simple command comes out of Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19. The passage in Ephesians stresses the sacrificial nature of such love, while the Colossians passage focuses on kindness.
The key truth I wish to highlight here, however, is neither the sacrificial nature nor the gentle nature of a husbands love, though certainly both are worthy of attention. Rather, I wish to emphasize the word your. Husbands, love your wife.
The reason all the marital advice often conflicts is because each person has learned how to love their spouse. They have figured out what works for them. However, what works for one couple may be disastrous for another. The key is not so much in the specific advice as it is what lies behind that advice: figure out who your spouse is, what they need, what makes them feel loved, and then do it.
This is the thinking behind the popular Love Languages series from Dr. Gary Chapman. In these helpful teachings, spouses are encouraged to learn how their partner best receives love in one of five main ways: physical touch, gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service. While everyone enjoys all of these, certain ones will resonate more with certain people. So, the husband must find out how his wife best receives love and then love her in that fashion.
I believe that many marriages would thrive if spouses simply loved one another. Not love who their spouse was 20 years ago, not love the imaginary perfect spouse in their mind, not love someone else’s spouse, but rather love their spouse as he or she is right now. This takes effort, investing time to learn and study your partner to figure out how to best love them. This love must be specific love, meeting the real (not perceived) needs of a partner in ways that they consider helpful.
Scripturally, the call is focused on the husband to love his wife. This does not mean that a wife does not need to love her husband. But particular emphasis and responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the husband. No matter the state of your marriage, how difficult it may be, or even the presence of sin, husbands are called to initiate love. Any marriage can be healthy and strong when husbands love their wives, and vice versa.
A few ideas to try out:
- Take a personality quiz. They say opposites attract, but after marriage, opposites irritate. Figure out your personality differences and try to understand where your partner is coming from.
- Learn each other’s history. Because everyone has had different experiences, we all interpret life from a different angle. Take the time to share and learn about one another.
- Ask questions. Get to know one another and figure out how each other thinks. This will help you better know how to love your partner.
- Read The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman and work through the discussion questions.
- Stay engaged. We often forget that people change over time. You may not really know who your partner is anymore. Be present both physically and mentally in your relationship so as to keep up to date.
- Repent of sin. Sometimes conflict is not a matter of differences but of selfishness.
- Be proactive. Don’t always assume you can love your partner on the fly, because life gets busy. Figure out a system to regularly show love to your spouse in practical ways.