"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Friday, July 3, 2015

In An Understanding Way

A short time ago my wife and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary (*insert applause*). By “celebrated,” I mean we cooked a special meal and ate it with our children. Then we watched Netflix and fell asleep. 

Staying married to the same person for twenty years in today’s world of easy divorces and multiple marriages is a quite an accomplishment by the world’s standards (kudos to my wife for putting up with me). Thankfully we are blessed by a God who tells us it’s okay to turn our backs on the world’s standards and live a different way.

As I reflect on the past two decades I realize that there have been moments of ecstasy, humor, pain, sorrow, and countless emotions in between. I have seen my wife at some of her happiest moments. On the flip-side, I’ve seen what it’s like when she’s desperately unhappy. Most importantly, I have had opportunities to show the kind of love that reflects the Biblical role of a husband; a sacrificial love that lets her have her way even when I desperately want something else. 

While the Bible doesn’t give us many specific rules in this area, the basic principles are outlined in one verse to which I am repeatedly drawn.

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)

The application of these verses is not the same for each married couple. You as a husband have to become a student of your own wife and tailor yourself and your actions according to her individual needs.

My wife, for example, places an extraordinarily high emphasis on her house. Nothing has a higher priority. She passes most of her decisions through two filters:

  1. the tidiness of her house, and
  2. her level of energy.
As her husband, I must work hard to appreciate her need to maintain control over her environment and love her in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7) by placing her wants and needs ahead of mine, and by continuously asking myself (a) is the house clean and organized? and (b) how fatigued is she? If she is struggling in these two areas, then I must step in to allow her to focus on her highest priorities, even if it means going without things (not just physical things) I want and need. It's my job.

Have I sacrificed my desires and needs for her in the past twenty years? Well, yes, because as her husband I'm commanded to understand what she needs/wants and fill in the gaps to make that happen. Has it made me happy? Not always, but it's not about my happiness - it's about serving God and serving my bride. Has it made her happy? Sometimes, but believe it or not, she can not depend on me for her happiness; that must come from God.

I hope my ramblings make at least a little sense. I will go into more specifics later, but for now I welcome your feedback.

T Bittner
Genuine Husband 

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