For husbands – about wives

I was out of pocket this past weekend – traveling to a family get-together centered around my parent’s 60th anniversay.  It was great to be among all my siblings and to see what’s happening in the lives of them, their children, etc.  As we interacted with everyone and as we drove to get there and back, I had quite a few thoughts about relationships.  Nothing like getting together with family to bring those kinds of thoughts to the surface…

A very wise woman (my wife) once told me this… “Silence is a negative communicator.”  What she meant was this – saying nothing, when there is something that needs to be or should be said, will always cause the person on the other end to assume the worst, not the best.  For example…

A husband and wife have been talking and the wife makes a comment that she’s become unattractive and fat since the birth of their last child (her words).  The husband (all inside his head – in his typically logical way) thinks, of course she’s put on a little bit of weight from the pregnancy, but he would never say she’s unattractive.  He still loves who she is, the way she walks, the funny way she laughs, etc.  And more than anything he still loves the personality and heart that won him over in the first place.  But because it’s a potentially volatile conversation, and because he doesn’t really know how to go about giving a diplomatic response, he sits silently without responding at all (If I ignore it long enough…. it might go away…)  Her assumption, drawn from his silence, is that he agrees with her – he probably is very dissatisfied with the way she looks and wishes he’d married someone else, etc.  The negative thoughts, flowing from insecurities that may be deep-seated and long-lived, snowball out of control.  By the time he walks out of the room she’s convinced that he’s thinking all kinds of things that never crossed his mind… His problem was that he simply didn’t know how to respond in a pinch…

While communication is a two-way interaction, amazingly it’s not always made up of words.  What we don’t say leaves ample room for speculation that at the time and in the context, seems very well-founded.  Our inability or unwillingness to speak can and often does cause great harm.

I guess I’m talking to husbands here – out of 18 years of my own mistakes and mis-steps.  We have a powerful role we can play in the lives of our wives if we can learn to get over our fear of relational conflict.  It really is amazing – the majority of men are a strange dichotomy.  We’ll bungy-jump, ride our cycles at 75 MPH over the roughest terrain, hunt for days in the frigid mountains, and even willingly step into a literal war-zone to defend our country… but we won’t take step #1 into the unpredictable land of relationships and relational communication.  We’ve tried it, didn’t know what to do, and sounded the retreat.  Maybe I can a pointer that will help you get your bearings…

#1 – Every tension has an underlying reason.  We are typically pretty logical as men.  We look at the facts as they appear to us, try to deal with them in the most expedient way, and presume that everything should be OK once that’s done.  But we have the tendency to only see the facts that appear the most obvious.  In the scenario I painted above, most of us would come to conclusions like these… “She’s overreacting – she’ll get over it.”  Or, “It must be that time of the month…”  But the real problem is not that she’s overreacting (even though she may be).  The real problem is not that it’s “that time of the month” (even though it may be).  The real problem is that she is struggling to see herself in the right light – for whatever reason.  Husband, it’s your job to help her adjust her vision, to see things rightly.  Beneath all her doubts there’s one that looms larger than any other – “Does he still love me – extra pounds and all?”  There’s almost always a deeper issue – and we husbands have got to learn to explore long enough and deep enough that we can find it and begin to address it.

But that’s a LOT of work – how many guys really want to get into that?  What do you do if you don’t really care to go there?  Honestly, that’s when you husband, need to adjust YOUR vision.  You’ve lost sight of what being a husband is really all about.  Or maybe you never really knew from the beginning.  If so, it’s about time you learned.  Here’s what God says a husband’s role is all about… Ephesians 5:25-33 (with my comments interspersed).

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

  • God’s intent for a husband is to live the heroic, damsel-in-distress-saving life that the little boy in all of us really wishes we could’ve/would’ve/should’ve lived.  God wants us to be the hero, the husband who gives it all for the sake of the one he loves – do you see Christ doing any different in what He did?  Jesus paid the ultimate price for the sake of His bride, the church.

 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

  • Why did Jesus do what He did?  Because he wanted his bride to be holy (perfect) and to be radiant and blameless, without stain or wrinkle.  He was looking far beyond the present moment to what His bride could become.  That’s why He gave everything, even to the point of giving His own life.  Husbands, your goal has to be the betterment and growth of your wife.  She can become so much more than she already is… if she only believes that you believe she is and can be that vision of lovliness  – and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to help her get there.  Those insecurities, inner fears, etc. about her that are so tough for you to handle – they all begin to melt away over time and you meet the need for love and acceptance that they represent.

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.

  • You do yourself a disservice when you mistreat or neglect or ignore your wife and her needs.  Marriage is symbolic of Christ’s relationship with the church.  Can you ever imagine Him saying, “Man, that church is just too needy…”  No, His attitude is more like this, “She’s a part of me now – I’m going to keep at it so that she can be all she’s supposed to be.”  It’s back to that passage from 1 Corinthians 13 – love is patient…

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

  • When God established marriage He intended it to be a place of PRIORITY (leaving the other important relationships behind, in comparison), and a place of PURSUIT (going after a new relationship… and husbands, look and see who is supposed to be doing the pursuing…YOU). 
  • The way Jesus is ABLE to do all this for the church is the mysterious part – but equally mysterious (in my opinion) is how much He empowers us husbands to be all we need to be for our wives when we decide we are going to obediently love them as we should.  Jesus’ example is huge, but His partnership with each husband is huge as well.
  • And what if your wife is not doing her part – the respecting part? Here’s my advice… if you will do your part and trust God with her’s – that will all fall into place – eventually.  He’s the one she’s got to deal with in the end, and your faithful love and care for her is part of what God will use to turn her attitude around.  Just don’t give up – it may take a very long time to see things change.  But once you’ve taken responsibility to change YOUR part, you can count on God to honor that and begin doing a work on her part…
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