Have you noticed how fanatical some men become over their cars? They wash, polish, and pamper them almost continually. These men drive them sparingly. They service them regularly to ensure they remain in tip-top shape. They don’t like other people tampering with them.
These guys love to be seen in their cars, hoping to attract admiring glances. They can talk about them for hours, having memorized the details of the handbook. They park them in the remote corners of the parking lot to prevent dents from less concerned motorists.
Many of the men I have just described give more time and attention to the machines in their garages than to the women in their living rooms. Overstated? Probably, but is essential not to miss the point: The enjoyment we derive from something is directly related to the time and trouble we take to nurture and care for it.
I’m not suggesting that men treat their wives like cars! But I want to emphasize that when a man proves himself capable of displaying tender care toward his toys, he has no excuse when it comes to his relationships. It just doesn’t work when he tries to justify apathy toward his wife by claiming, “I’m just not put together that way.”
NOT THE EASIER ROLE
It is fairly common to hear people suggest that within marriage the husband has been given “the easy part of the deal.” Many men are quick to quote passages regarding headship, authority, and the obligation for women to submit to their husbands. But they don’t seem as eager to recall Ephesians 5:25-33, or the admonition in Ephesians 5 to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (v. 21).
Whenever I hear a husband “remind” his wife about his authority and her duty to submit, I know he is someone who does not understand the reciprocal nature of submission within marriage. Truth decay is already at work in such a marriage. It will need to be drilled out and repaired if further deterioration is to be prevented.
Scripture provides no basis for concluding that all the privileges of marriage accrue to the husband. Nor do all the obligations fall to the wife. There is no doubt that some couples live as if that were the case. But such faulty thinking is in need of correction.
If a husband starts believing that his is the easier role in the marriage relationship, he should consider what it means to “love your wife, just as Christ loved the church.” While human men cannot match the degree of love Jesus displays (since His love is divine and infinite), they are to love in the same manner. Christ initiated love for the church, and His love remains constant regardless of the response He receives.
TAKING CARE TO INITIATIVE IN NURTURING LOVE
Similarly, the husband has the responsibility of initiating, nurturing, and maintaining love within the marriage. The leadership vacuum within so many homes is largely due to the husband’s lack of initiative in providing love for his wife.
In far too many cases the wife has assumed the initiating role. This is not because she wants the position. It’s because she is afraid that the car is about to careen off the road. She feels her husband has vacated the seat or has fallen asleep at the wheel. A staggering number of men have gone AWOL when it comes to this. Whenever a wife is longing for companionship and intimacy elsewhere, the problem can usually be traced to the husband’s unwillingness to take the initiative in providing love.
EXERCISING SACRIFICIAL LOVE
The love of a husband for his wife is also to be marked by sacrifice. Jesus gave Himself up for the church. It was not on the basis of the attractiveness of those who became the objects of His love, but on account of His grace. God loves because it is His nature to so, and He has poured out His love into our hearts. This is so that our love will be different from that of the world.
DWELLING ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE
In addition to Paul’s instruction to husbands, Peter has a challenge as well:
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7)
What does Peter mean when he calls husbands to “be considerate as you live with your wives?” Is he simply reminding men to be courteous? Is the motive to stop him from interrupting and finishing her sentences for her? Could it be so that he to holds the door open, and stands up when she comes into the room? These matters are trivial in light of the far-reaching instruction he has just given to the wives (1 Peter 3:1-6). So what is at the heart of this exhortation?
Context is Important
The literal translation is this: “Husbands, likewise dwell together according to knowledge.” The context of this statement is important. Peter has previously observed that before we were converted we lived in ignorance. We followed our own evil desires (1 Peter 1:14). But as we experience new life in Christ, that previous way of living changes. Our thinking is now conforming to a different standard. Pagan lust is replaced by Christian love.
Previously we may have had the same outlook on marriage as any man on the street. But now our marriage relationships are raised to the standards set forth in the truth of Scripture. Therefore, we can live with our wives in the knowledge of the wonderful provisions God has made for us. We have knowledge of the clear parameters that God has established for marriage, so we can enjoy the unique purposes He has ordained for us as husbands and wives. In the knowledge of what our wives are by nature and by grace, our treatment of them should be marked by gentleness and honor.
TAKING CARE TO DEMONSTRATE RESPECT
When I listen to a wife describe her husband’s diminishing care for her, she will often cry. She contrasts the early days with the current experience. The common story goes something like this: “When we were dating, and at the beginning of our marriage, my husband would watch out for me. I felt secure in his attention and affection. Now he usually ignores me. I have no sense that he respects me at all.
At office functions, he puts on a good show and introduces me around. But I am very quickly forgotten as he impresses the crowd with his stories. When we get home, he is full and I am empty. Yet he is so insensitive that he doesn’t even notice.”
This absence of honor and respect will often be seen in the way the children treat their mother. While they have the capacity for disrespect without any coaching from their dad, the fact remains that the way in which a son addresses his mother will often be a direct reflection of the attitude of the husband for his wife.
This edited article comes from the book, Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure by Alistair Begg, published by Moody Publishers. In this book Pastor Begg teaches “the art of a lasting relationship. He calls each partner to diligently tend the fire of his own her own home hearth.”
— ALSO —
To help you show your wife the love and care she needs, the following articles may give you the tips you need:
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Filed under: For Married Men