(photo source: Google images)
In this series:Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 1: Do Not Dwell in Your Hurts for a Long Time Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 2: Make a Firm Commitment to Obey Gods Word No Matter What Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 3: Don’t Let It Change You for the Worse but for the Better
One of the things that exacerbates problems in marriage is the habit of looking at others’ marriages and probably secretly comparing with, and envying, them. We read and hear about husbands being fabulously described by their wives and we feel sorry for ourselves as we compare in our minds and heap upon our spouses criticisms and faults as we decide that he’s not anything at all like them.
These observations and comparisons could very well be true, but to use them to further discourage ourselves, fan the flame of disappointments, and heighten other ugly and negative emotions that we might be trying to extinguish, will not at all solve the problems. That is their life and we have our own which urgently needs all our attention and love.
This is the life, the marriage, the family, the home that God has gifted us with (Yes, they are gifts!), and instead of studying others’ lives and marriages and endlessly wishing that ours were like theirs, let us focus our eyes, minds, hearts, and energy toward our own homes, being encouraged and intimately guided by the Word of God.
We may see and read all manner of beautiful marriages around us but we do not know the whole story and we cannot possibly imitate them or pattern our own marriages after theirs. Successful marriages among our beloved brethren in Church could serve as shining examples and inspiration but the work still lies in us to make our own marriages succeed, but not without the mighty hand of the Lord in all of it.
The Bible has provided a “divorce-proof “(or in our country, “annulment-proof”) guide for Christian marriages. We need only to examine the words very thoroughly and meditatively and begin to apply them assiduously in our marriages accompanied by unceasing prayers. There are two vital things that the Bible teaches husbands and wives: Love and Respect.
For the husbands to love their wives. How? As themselves.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself… (Eph. 5:25,28,29,30,33)
The Apostle Paul compared the love of a husband to his wife to the love of Christ to the Church, emphasizing that we are members of His body, flesh and bones. Apostle Paul got his fitting analogy from the beginning of all things, going all the way back to Genesis. We remember that God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep while He busied Himself taking a rib from him. And from Adam’s rib, God created Eve, Adam’s wife. We can only imagine him beaming with love and happiness as he declared, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh!”
Adam, the first man and husband, recognized Eve his wife as from his own, not at all separate from himself. And so he loved her as his own body. Does this mean, therefore, that a husband who is unkind to his wife is actually being unkind to himself? It is really hard to understand if this is the situation of the marriage.
In turn, the wife is commanded to respect her husband. How does she do it? To submit to him in everything as she does to the Lord.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
…and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph. 5:22-24,33 NIV)
Must one worry that one might be blindly or hazardously submitting to everything even to a husband’s unkind treatment? But in these two primordial commands for a husband and wife, God has designed a perfect balance in their application: the wife respecting, and submitting to, a husband who loves her like his own self. Each party, therefore, must play his/her role with complete dedication to attain and maintain equilibrium, a state wherein there are no strong clashing forces that foment strife. In simpler terms, there is peace and harmony.
That is why Apostle Paul used the love of Christ to the Church and the submission of the Church to Him in everything as the bases of this Love and Respect Equation between a husband and his wife – it is that sacred!
If it be possible and you know that it would proceed smoothly and turn out well, discussing this with our spouses would be very beneficial indeed. You may both offer up prayers before you sit down and amiably talk about these verses in detail and with an open heart and mind.
If a heart-to-heart discussion would prove to be difficult (remember the problems with verbal communication in part 1 of this series?), you may write a letter to him expressing your desire to have a happy and harmonious life with him, letting him know also of your sincere appreciation of the things that he does for the family, and telling him you respect him (and mean it, too!). You may include the above verses but not in a “preachy” way but as a wife who is willing to give everything and do her part to help make the marriage succeed and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.
My gratitude list – thankful to the Lord for:
- this chicken cannelloni which gathered love, joy, and laughter around our table on a Saturday afternoon.
- blueberry-scented tea light candles
- this deep and enduring fire between me and my beloved husband which has unfailingly helped to resuscitate many an ailing marriage season and colored many a gray moment.
- the commitment of my husband that runs strong and deep and has weathered many storms and has seen the harder, unpleasant side of married life, which side has taught us patience and sacrificial love.
- the wisdom that Hannah my daughter gradually gains from our continuous study of the Word.
- the thanksgiving message of a beloved sister-in-Christ which touched my heart and stirred a new fervency of love deep within me for the Body of Christ.