The greatest commandment in the Bible is to, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself…” (Matthew 22:36-38). You would think that these commands from Jesus would be clear enough for husbands to love their wives out of the overflow and empowerment of the first commandment. However, Apostle Paul gets specific in his letters to the Colossians 3:19 and Ephesians 5:25 giving the men a reminder: “…Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”
Some might say that in Paul’s culture and era women did not have equal rights and were seen as inferior to men. There is truth to this statement, but even in our Canadian culture in 2018 we, as men, still need the reminder to love the woman with whom we have made a marriage covenant. The familiar saying, “we tend to hurt the ones who are closest to us” speaks to the reason why we need multiple reminders in the Bible to love our wives with whom we are one flesh (Mark 10:8).
We are told by Paul not to be harsh with our wives, but instead lay down our lives for their sake, in the same way that Christ gave himself up on the cross for His Bride, the Church. If Christ the sinless King of kings would choose to lay down His life for imperfect sinners like us, how much more should we humble ourselves to love our wives? Some believe husbands get too comfortable and familiar with their wives and stop “trying” to win or keep their affection and attention through the five love languages. If you have not heard of the five love languages then I highly recommend that you read the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. The book explains the five ways love is expressed and experienced by receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.
If Christ the sinless King of kings would choose to lay down His life for imperfect sinners like us, how much more should we humble ourselves to love our wives?
According to Chapman we each have one primary and one secondary love language. As you might imagine, it would be very helpful for married couples to know each other’s love languages. My wife Angela’s primary love language is quality time and the secondary one is acts of service. This means that I can verbally express that I love my wife all day long, but if I do not spend time with her or take the garbage out I will not be speaking her love language.
So what is the solution for husbands to properly love their wives? Well, I do not think it’s just one or two things to do to solve marital problems or manage marital tensions. I think it’s a combination of our submission and love for the Lord Jesus Christ above all else and the doing of His teachings (as confirmed and taught again by the apostles) through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. I also believe it’s important to note to husbands that our love for our wives is not just crucial for a healthy and lasting marriage and family, but that marriage is an image of Christ and the Church. That’s the deepest meaning of marriage. Marriage is meant to display how Christ and the Church relate to each other as taught by Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:21-33. Therefore, I implore you husbands to put on Christ and as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12). Let the Holy Spirit renew the spirit of your mind and love your wives as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 4:23).