Marriage is hard work. There are many times that you are excited to be married, you and your spouse are on the same page, romance is high and affection feels easy. Decisions flow without much work, and you wonder why it isn’t always like this.
Other times your marriage feels like if it is moving, it is moving backwards. You fight, never hold hands, you struggle to understand your spouse, and decisions always end in fights and hurt feelings.
If you’re single you think, “I’ll worry about my marriage, someday…when I’m married.”
Regardless of where you are, one thing is sure: you need a vision for your marriage. The one you are in or the one you will enter into one day.
It is easy to miss this. It is easy to get stuck in the day to day of marriage and miss this. So much happens in a day, it is hard enough to stay married, let alone think about your marriage.
Too many couples have no idea what they are doing in their marriage. If you don’t have a vision, a destination, you don’t know where you are going.
Here’s what happens: you do what your parents did. You talk to your spouse the way your mom talked to your dad. You treat each other the way your parents did. You do the same things your parents did. Your dad did the finances, so you expect your husband to do the finances. Doesn’t matter if he’s good at that. It’s what you expect.
Or you do the exact opposite of what you saw your parents do. They seemed miserable, they got divorced, so no matter what it is, let’s do the opposite.
We do this without ever asking, “Is that what I want?” Or, “Is that what God wants?”
In Ephesians 5:22 – 33 we are given a vision for marriage, a picture, a reflection of what marriage is supposed to look like. When someone looks at a marriage, they are seeing what that couple believes about God’s love and how they respond to that love.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their 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 Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
In light of that, here are some things to consider. First men:
- A husband makes his wife’s burden lighter. Here’s a question every husband should ask his wife on a regular basis: What is one thing I can do to help you and make your life easier?
- He enjoys serving her.
- He serves her by providing and being her defender. He takes her side no matter what. He stands with his wife, for his wife, even if that means he makes his mom mad.
- And he does this all cheerfully without wondering what he will get in return.
- He nourishes his wife. This means to develop, nurture and to lift up. Are you helping her develop into the person God called her to be? To develop her gifts, her dreams?
- Does your wife have space for her dreams?
- Nourish also brings to mind care and attention. Does your wife feel like she is cared for by you and she has your attention?
- A wife who experiences this will get to the end of her life and think, “Being married opened up my life to so many possibilities. My husband cared about where my life was going. My husband thought of me.”
- He loves his wife like he loves himself. This happens by cherishing her. This means she feels his warmth, by being valued by her husband. He does not make fun of her, ever. He does not put her down. He builds her up. He doesn’t compare her to other women, he doesn’t fantasize about other women. Instead he delights in her. He prizes her.
For women, whether your husband does that, you are called to respond to him. Not as a doormat, but with strength through the personality God has given you. It means:
- You are not a doormat. You are not doing whatever your husband wants, but you are thinking for yourself. It is asking questions of your husband, expressing your reservations, helping your husband see something from another angle. It is adding value to your husband.
- It is knowing that your husband bears the responsibility and accountability to God for your marriage and family.
- Lastly, it is a heart attitude towards God. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. It is a step towards God.
- Submission is not really to your husband but to God.
- In everything, Paul says in verse 24. Why? Because you are one flesh. There is not an area of your life that is cut off from your spouse.
- One flesh means one dream, one bank account, sharing all things, not having social media profiles the other doesn’t know about. Katie could literally shut my life down because she has all my passwords to everything.
Why is this so hard?
Tim Keller says, “Self-centeredness is a havoc-wreaking problem in many marriages, and it is the ever-present enemy of every marriage. It is the cancer in the center of a marriage when it begins, and it has to be dealt with.” Living out this vision requires you to let go of what you want. To crucify your desires in many ways.