My wife and I just recently celebrated our one year anniversary. It has been the best year of my life. Although I feel I am completely unqualified to do so, I wanted to mention a few tips on how husbands should act to best love their wives. I believed these before I was ever in a relationship. They are simple principles that I learned by reading the Bible and watching the successes and mistakes of others. This past year of marriage has helped me apply them and prove their wisdom.
Die to your selfishness and serve your wife
As a husband, I love reading Ephesians 5 cause it reminds me quickly of what my responsibilities are as a husband.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…. (Eph 5:25-29)
My responsibility as a husband is to follow Christ and lay down my life to better love and serve her so that she is free and pure. My standard on how well I am loving my wife is measured by how Jesus loves us. In fact, Ephesians 5:31 states that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. That should imply to us how high and serious God takes marriage and how we serve in it.
Looking back on my past year of marriage I realized that out of all our fights: 5% were because of good arguments (God’s will, theology, illuminating/breaking personal strongholds, etc), 10% were because of in-laws, and 85% were because of selfishness! The Bible is clear: when there is a argument because both parties are being selfish (whether it’s well-meaning or not), the husband is to die to his rights and desires and serve his wife as long as it does not violate Scripture or the husband’s spiritual discernment regarding God’s will and direction.
There have been many arguments avoided cause I have died my own desires and helped my wife have hers. Men, it is not worth the fights to have your own way when it comes to how to squeeze the toothpaste or how to load the dishwasher. The only time I risk the fight is to better purify and refine her. Serving my wife means braving the times when I am called to smooth some of her rough edges. She braves the harder task of doing the same to me.
Praise her publicly and privately.
All humans love affirmation. God has blessed the marriage covenant in that each spouse can greatly influence how the other sees themselves based on what’s spoken over them. Speak over your wife blessings instead of curses, praises instead of criticisms. Proverbs 31 says:
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:28-31)
This portion of scripture says several things regarding husbands praising their wives:
- It says that husbands should praise their wives.
- It says that husbands should praise their wife more than any other woman.
- It says that the praise isn’t just about beauty or doing a good job, but also about her spiritual life and growth.
- It says that this praise should also be shouted in public in the midst of people.
I encourage all husbands to take those four points regarding praising your wife to heart and start practicing them every chance you get. Show your wife you’re more pleased and happy with her than any other woman. Tell her how beautiful she is. Tell her how amazing she is when she’s working. Above all, praise her for her spiritual life, devotion, giftings, growth and passion. Praise her at home and praise her among friends and strangers.
Praising your wife like this will do wonders for her self-esteem as well as continue to open her heart to further receive the same love and affirmation from Jesus.
Like publicly praising your wife, covering your wife is important. To cover your wife means to not speak of her faults for your or another’s gain. The Bible says:
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9)
A wife should be a husband’s closest friend. Yet when we bring up past failures in order to get the upper hand in a argument or when we bring up a past mistake or failure about our wives in a conversation with other people around (friends or strangers) to make a joke or point, it causes deep pain in our wives.
When we first got together, my wife and I realized that as we were hanging with friends, we would make jokes at the expense of each other. Many tears and long conversations afterwards led us to commit to only speak of each other with grace-filled words and a covering love. In fact, if we want to joke about a situation that’s personal, we will talk about ourselves and not each other. Don’t embarrass and uncover your wife for a joke. Love her enough to make yourself the joke if you have to. Also don’t bring up her past failures in the heat of an argument. Jesus doesn’t do that to us and He has the right to. Remember, we are to follow His example.
Pray for her
This should go without saying but I find it amazing how it is the last thing I often do. As the husbands and the priests of the home, we ought to visibly show our wives and families that we are the leaders of the spiritual life and growth within our households. We should be leading the way in prayer times, devotional times and studying the Word.
Yet we shouldn’t be just praying for our personal growth, but also directly praying into the challenges and needs we have inside our house. Prayer builds faith and faith helps us combat fear. There have been multiple times where my wife and I have been troubled and fearful about finances or health or safety (etc). Whenever those times arise, I hold her and pray out loud to God about the situation, helping her put her trust in God by showing her that I’m doing the same. Without fail, her nerves calm and she feel less burdened. That’s how you use prayer to lead your house.
Remove “divorce” from your vocabulary
Leaving is always the easy way out. Refuse to do it. Refuse to ever have the word “divorce” come up in your marriage. Don’t even let it be an option on the table. Don’t use it as a threat or to gain the upper hand in an argument. In Malachi, God states:
And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Malachi 2:13-16)
Jesus also states:
But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)
God hates divorce. I believe we have done a disgrace to the Bible by, in the name of love and grace, condoned divorce in the church. Divorce is a serious matter if our Forgiver says we’re guilty of adultery if we do it. Although God offers forgiveness and cleansing for past mistakes, we must not take this mercy and grace as a licensed to sin. The Bible has some choice words for those people who “trample the grace of God.” (See Hebrews 10:26-31)
Choose to live in this marriage for better or worse and you will start making decisions to help make the marriage better instead of worse. Also be cautious of storming away and leaving the house in the midst of an argument. Refuse to even hint at walking away from your wife, even if it’s just an argument. If allowed, it’s a little fox that will spoil the vine of love over time.
Now I understand that there are times that we as husbands need a “Bethel” time to get away and think by themselves to sort things out. This is fine. Just reassure your wife before doing so. The book “For Men Only” states (based on a poll) that most women feel more secure if before leaving in the midst of an argument, he says to her “I need some time real quick to sort some things out and think about things…but I want you to know that we’re ok and I love you. We can finish this when I cool down and think about this by myself. Is that ok?” I can attest that this works. Most women know that men work things out differently then women. Men are the ones who usually forget that. So feel free to take a break in the midst of arguing, just reassure her first and make sure you come back and finish the conversation, cause that’s how she works things out.