by Richard Mansel, managing editor
Men must learn how to be the type husbands God desires. Ephesians 5:22-29 offers powerful advice for husbands. God’s plan is to create people that are the best spouses they can be.
Husbands must love their wives unselfishly. In Ephesians 5:22-29, wives are told to submit to their husbands while husbands are commanded to love their wives. And since God’s definition of love always includes unselfishness, husbands are to treat their wives as Christ does the church, with great tenderness (Ephesians 5:25-27).
God’s love gives and gives, while man’s love constantly takes without regard for the other.
Walter Trobisch wrote,
“Let me try to tell you what it really should mean when a fellow says to a girl, ‘I love you.’ It means: you, you, you. You alone. You shall reign in my heart. You are the one whom I have longed for, without you I am incomplete. I will love you alone, and I will work for you alone. And I will wait for you … I will never force you, not even by words. I want to guard you, protect you and keep you from all evil. I want to share with you all my thoughts, my heart and my body — all that I possess. I want to listen to what you have to say. There is nothing I want to undertake without your blessing. I want to remain always at your side.” /1
Love is far more than sex and protection. It is cherishing and nourishing as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:28-29). It is placing the needs of the wife above his own in importance. God gave her to him as a beautiful gift and he should treat her with requisite respect.
“Any woman would find it easier to defer to a husband she knew would die for her than to a husband she felt might sacrifice her to his fears, lust or ambition.”/2
Jesus lived a life of sacrificial love and knew what it meant to die for the objects of our love (John 15:13). For husbands, it does not necessarily mean that we give up our physical lives, but that we die to self so our marriages can be blessed.
In counseling a wife said, “Dear, I know that you are willing to die for me; you have told me that many times. But while you are waiting to die, could you just fill in some of the time helping dry the dishes?” /3
“A husband should never use his headship to crush or stifle his wife, or to frustrate her from being herself. His love for her will lead him to an exactly opposite path. He will give himself up for her, in order that she may develop her full potential under God and become more completely herself.” /4
Love must not be restrained but allowed to flow freely and unencumbered. Wives want their men to express their love in tenderness and with a listening ear.
Men and women generally differ greatly in communication skills. However, if he, will be open and transparent before her, it will allow them the level of intimacy they both desire. If she will handle his openness properly, he will be comfortable doing so again. Wives have a great responsibility in creating a safe environment for him to share his fears and feelings.
Finally, husbands, as David Sain wisely advises, “the best time to tell your wife you love her is before some other man does.”
1/ James Montgomery Boice, Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997), 200.
2/ John Phillips, Exploring Ephesians and Philippians (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993), 163.
3/ Boice, 201.