Men, You're Not the Dumb Sitcom Husband
The average comedic family sitcom would have you believe that husbands are morons. We all know those shows that paint the husband as constantly doing something dumb to infuriate his wife and he must learn a lesson and apologize to repair the relationship. Maybe there’s some sort of grand gesture involved or maybe peace is restored through a heartfelt apology. Either way, husbands are painted in a pretty poor light.
As a husband, I’ve had more than my fair share of screw ups. I have and will continue to make mistakes because I’m not perfect. I do apologize to my wife regularly and ask for her forgiveness. But the picture I’m aiming to project is much different than what television or movies depict. I’m not looking to be the goofy husband who pays no attention to his wife, does whatever he wants, and then apologizes later. I’m aiming at much loftier goals.
I believe the Bible sets very high standards for husbands to live up to. Paul, in writing to the Ephesian church, gives this instruction to husbands: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25). You don’t have to be living in biblical culture to understand that this is a monumental command. Christ was crucified for the church. He laid down His life. He gave it all. This is the standard for how a husband should love his wife.
To model our love for our wives after Christ’s sacrificial love is a call to total abandonment of our preferences, pride, and selfishness. It’s literally a call for us to die daily to these things. Instead of focusing on our needs, we look to the needs of another. Instead of thinking first and foremost about me, I think first and foremost about her. Jesus literally gave His life for the church; I must figuratively (and literally if need be) give my life for my wife.
One of the reasons Valentine’s Day exists as a thriving business is because there are so many marriages that aren’t heading Paul’s advice. Valentine’s Day will typically involve a grand display of love through gifts, a nice meal, and sometimes even a getaway. It seems to be a way for husbands to say, “I’m sorry I suck so badly most of the year. I hope I can go all out on this one day to make it up to you.”
When husbands are loving their wives in the way Paul directs, Valentine’s Day isn’t a big deal. There’s no need to make up for anything because day in and day out husbands are seeking to put their wives above themselves. This results in a wife who feels loved and cared for and respects her husband. These actions most assuredly speak louder and communicate more than gifts, a meal, or a vacation.
So what does it look like practically to love your wife like Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her? While I could overload you with examples, here are a few.
Be a Servant Leader
Women want men who will lead them. Jesus gave us the ultimate example of what godly leadership looks like. He was a servant. While He—if anyone—had the right to exercise authority over people, He instead was humble and served others. Men lead their wives like Jesus when they consider no job at home (because they should help at home) too lowly for them. Wash dishes, fold laundry, and help with the kids. Even better, keep the kids and give your wife some time away.
How would your home look different if you were always looking for ways to serve? How would your marriage look different if you were seeking ways daily to serve your wife? What kind of man would your daughter seek for a husband? What kind of husband would your son be to a wife? Husbands being servants can change their entire family.
Lay Down Your Pride
Every husband and wife are going to have disagreements. Sometimes there is someone who is clearly wrong in the matter. If it’s you then you should be quick to seek forgiveness. If it’s not you then you should be quick to forgive. Either way, be quick to seek reconciliation.
However, sometimes there will be disagreements when you both feel like you are clearly on the right side of things. Maybe the husband feels as though he has done nothing wrong, but that he has been wronged and the wife feels the same way regarding herself. Husbands, this where giving yourself up for your wife can really come in to play. For the sake of love, and reconciliation you lay down your pride, apologize to your wife and ask forgiveness, but don’t expect her to do the same. Even though you felt in the right, give yourself (your pride and preferences) up for her. It truly is sometimes better to be reconciled than to be right.
Pursue Her Heart
Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was ultimately an act of pursuit of the church. By laying down his life He pursued and acquired His bride. In giving Himself up, He pursued intimacy with the church. He sought to know us and be known by us. That knowing goes deeper and deeper as we walk with Him during our time here on earth and one day we will know and be known fully as we stand with Him face to face.
After marriage and kids it can be so easy to get lazy and try and coast in our marriages. Husbands, we are called to know our wives hearts, not just when we’re dating, but until death do us part. We are supposed to constantly be pursuing our brides. Even if we can’t go out like we used to because of kids, we need to make moments at home when we sit, intentionally undistracted, and ask our wives about their joys, fears, hopes, dreams, and passions. Those romantic, nervous, excited, dating feelings may be gone, but we love deeply when we know each other deeply.
There are no perfect husbands. There are no perfect wives. We laugh at the husbands who are constantly getting themselves into trouble with their wives on the television shows and movies, but no one really wants a marriage like that. We laugh because we can relate—maybe a little too much. Christ came and sacrificed everything for His bride, and as Christians, we eagerly await the consummation of our perfect marriage. Until then, may it be our joy to work hard to make our earthly marriages look like the final marriage we anticipate and long for.