Eph. 6:25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
How are we husbands to love our wives? I have been on a journey to discover this over the last couple years. I realized how much I had really failed to love my wife in the years before. I think there were 2 main problems.
1st problem - unhealed wounds I needed healing for many lies I had believed from my past. I took many of the things she would say to me as personal rejection. Many of the patterns of conflict we encountered were due to the grid I viewed life through. Therefore, any appeal from her that even hinted at the fact that I wasn't meeting her needs in some way was immediately taken personally and defensive walls would go up. Over the last couple years, with my wife's unconditional love and healing prayer, God has healed me and set me free from many childish ideas and ways of reacting. I have also been learning to feel. We men have a difficult time with emotion, and this was a big one for me. I still have far to go, but God has done more than I could ever imagine!
2nd problem - wrong view of authority I covered much of this in my post about the husband as the priest of the Home. http://bigkiddfamily.blogspot.com/2011/11/man-as-priest-of-home.html
I wanted to add some stuff here about this issue as it relates to how a husband learns to love his wife. Of course, it also applies to wives loving their husbands.
We learned through some teaching videos we watched last year that there are basically 3 types of relationships that many husbands and wives will find themselves in. My wife and I disagree with some of the psychological pidgeon-holing on some of the videos, but we did take some very valuable things from it. http://lovingonpurpose.com/
- I matter, you don't - (The controller) This occurs when one partner dominates the relationship. Their vision, decisions, dreams are all that matter. The weaker partner never has much to say and they just always go along with the stronger partner. This is because the stronger partner forces their way(always wins) and does not have enough respect for the thoughts, feelings, and wisdom of the weaker partner.
- You matter, I don't - (The doormat) In this type of relationship, the dominating person is not the problem. The problem lies in a wrong view believed by the person who is weaker. This type of person lives to only serve and meet the needs of the other. They will never speak up or let their needs, thoughts, or feelings be known. This may sound holy, submissive, and very Christian-like, however, this person will typically breed hidden resentments and feelings of being un-cared for. They never make their thoughts known because they believe they don't matter and they probably won't be listened to anyways. These people will many times be nice to you to your face, but the moment your back is turned will spew out all kinds of anger and resentment.
- You matter,and so do I - (Healthy relationship). Both partners have a high respect for one another's thoughts, feelings, and needs. This may not always be possible in all marriage relationships because sometimes, 1 partner is un-cooperative. This is the type of relationship we all desire and long for. In this type of relationship, both partners are free to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs without fear of backlash. Unconditional love and a high respect for each other is paramount. Decisions are made together, without one partner needing to force their way. Both people can be seen as equally able tohear from God and make wise decisions.
Typically, in the church circles my wife and I were a part of over the past few years, the first two ways of relating were the only ones we ever saw. We unfortunately fell into these faulty ways of relating to each other as well. In these types of churches, the only person who really matters in the family is the Husband. The wife and children only live to serve him. The husband believes "I matter, you don't" subconsciously, even though he would never say it out loud. In the church, the same way of thinking is practiced. Lip-service is given to the importance of women, but they are allowed to participate very little if at all in the actual church meeting.
The wife believes "You matter, I don't". The wife many times will be unable to really communicate how she really thinks or feels since she subconsciously believes, "I don't matter". She begins to believe that she was only created to keep the clothes washed, put food on the table, have babies, teach the children, and maybe become an herbal expert :) Her identity is squashed by this mindset. She does not believe she can hear from God or play a major role in any decision-making. Her thoughts, dreams, desires are minimized since the husband's thoughts, dreams, desires are all that matter.
Some churches will not even allow a woman to speak because they believe that a man is the only one who can really handle theological questions and biblical truth. Women are only qualified to teach other women and children. Do you see how damaging this mindset can become when applied in the home? This means that the woman can never take any viewpoint contrary to her husband and can never disagree with him on spiritual, theological, or practical issues. This mindset takes a low view of and has no respect for the humanity and intelligence of women. Bible verses are thrown around and pulled out of context to support this viewpoint. Any time the bible is used to dominate or control other people, love has just been cast out and the Spirit of Fear has been let in. There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear. If we men will learn to really love, then our wives can be truly freed from fear. On the flip-side, the reason people want to stay in control is out of fear. I remember fearing that my wife might disagree with my decisions, so I didn't even ask her opinion. I just went right ahead and did them because I was the authority in the house.
Like I said in my article about Man as priest of the Home, if I would have taken my wife seriously, I would not have blundered into so many mistakes and bad decisions. We men need to be humble enough to listen to our wives and make decisions together with them. Any time a decision comes to the point of a power struggle, the quality of the relationship has to be sacrificed. These wrong beliefs will always hinder good communication and good decision making.
Oh, and by the way - these concepts also apply to how we view our children as well. Many a controlling, authoritarian parent has abused their children because they were "unsubmissive". We need to heed well the command to not exasperate our children with bullying and controlling intimidation tactics. They also have feelings and thoughts that need to be respected. If they become disrespectful, there are certainly consequences - but we don't need to bully them into submission.
Paul says we men are to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. How well are we loving our wives as Christ loves the church? How well are we giving up ourselves and laying down our lives for our wives? Jesus lowered himself and became a servant to humanity. In laying down his life for us, we see the ultimate example of love. Christ humbled himself and elevated others. He had a very high view of humanity. His purpose was not to be served, but to serve. We men need to learn to serve our wives! Get this! They do not exist to serve me and meet my needs! Yes, in a godly relationship, our wives will desire to serve us and meet our needs, but that will never be forced upon them as their "role".
Ephesians also tells us to "submit to one another". Yes, husbands, this implies that there are times where we will need to submit to our wives! Since our wives do have the spirit of Christ living in them, we are in fact submitting to Christ when we choose to listen to and submit ourselves to what they have to say. Ouch! see Gen. 21:12
Submission/Authority is a minor issue when compared with Love. Love is the major issue. Love always wins. Love does not seek to have it's own way(1 cor 13:5). Submission/Authority is a lesser form of relationship that at times has to be resorted to when one person isn't in right relationship with God. However, if true love is present and both people are submitted to God and hearing from him, there will rarely be a need for the Submission/Authority issue to come up.
For example: Look for a second at how we relate with God. Do we always relate to God as slave to master? No, we relate to him as son to father, bride to bridegroom, brothers, family, etc. I believe the slave to master relationship is a lesser form of relationship that has no place when our primary motivation is love! Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments". He didn't say, "Since I am your master and Lord, keep my commandments!
Unfortunately, many husbands are communicating this type of relational message to their wives. "Since I am your authority, do what I say!" "Since I am your head, you have no say in the decisions around here." "Your feelings and thoughts don't matter since I am the master". That isn't love. That isn't 1 Cor. 13:5.
Love is communicated when the relational message that both husband and wife are conveying to each other is "You matter, and so do I". Since "I matter", when I disagree with you I will speak up and be honest about it in a respectful way. On the flip-side, it also means I will not insist on my own way, because "you matter" and I respect you. We have high levels of respect for each other, and we have a high level of respect for our selves. Since I have a high level of respect for myself, I will not allow another to control or dominate me since I am accountable to God and I will not violate my own conscience. It also means that since I love you, I will pray for you and even speak up and tell you about it when I see you about to walk over a cliff. This type of relationship is the only one in which we can be free to be honest with each another and be free to give/receive true love. True love is not coerced, it is freely given. In this type of relationship, we are self-controlled, spirit-controlled, and accountable to God.
About the Author: My name is Chad. We are a family of 8 - My lovely wife, Ondrea and I have been married for 16 years and have 6 awesome Children - Silas(14), Savannah(12), Liliahna(10), Elijah(7), Evangelina(5), and Peter(3). We homeschool our children, and have since the beginning. We love homeschooling and have never considered doing school any other way. (Except on bad days, but we just remember that our worst day homeschooling is still better than our best day public schooling) You can find me on the web at http://bigkiddfamily.blogspot.com