“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”
God gives both positive and negative responsibility to the husband in this verse. Most people feel their marital problems are due to an exceptional misfortune. This is an error. It is a naive but sincere belief by many.
“Husbands, love your wives”
God never gives leadership the prerogative of authoritarianism. Leadership is never an excuse for brusque neglect or thoughtlessness. The standard for leadership in the home is love.
In this passage, Paul puts his finger on the primary role of the husband in marriage. Males are born, but men are made. It takes a man to relate to his wife adequately. Every man is ultimately responsible for what his marriage becomes. This responsibility revolves around his primary role–to give his wife security in his love.
The Greek has three words for love. The first word means to love passionately; sometimes, it means to lust. The second word refers to the love of affection; this is the love of people who connect. The third word for love and the word found in this verse is the love that spends itself for others. It is a love that gives (Eph. 5:25). The hardest thing to give is–”in.”
Notice that this passage does not say “Make love.” Sex is an important aspect of love. However, it is not the key to marriage. The key is a love where a husband respects, values, cherishes, and honors his wife.
The Greek tense indicates that this love is to be an ongoing attitude and action. We love our wives, not until she says or does something we do not like. God wants us to keep on loving our wives. He wants us to establish a propensity, a trend, a manner of life, a habit of life of loving her.
The husband’s role is to love his wife to such a degree that she feels secure in that love. Jesus loved us with a sacrificial love. He was under no illusions. He saw us for what we were, yet he loved us (1 John 3:16). Jesus loved absolutely. His love was without limitation, without condition, and without reserve. Love takes the lover out of himself. Love gives of his interest, time, pleasures, ambitions, and friends.
Often husbands give everything but themselves. We cannot rephrase the hymn “Take my wife and let her be!!” When we first fell in love, we treated our wives with such respect. We rushed her off her feet. We dated her; we bought her flowers; we treated her with respect. What has happened now that you are married for a few years? “Now that the honeymoon is over let her shift for herself.”
How much should the husband love his wife? Eph 5:25. God wants us to love our wives like Jesus loves the church–he died on the cross for the church. If we do not love our wives enough to die for her, we do not love her enough.
The biblical role of the husband is to make the wife feel secure in his love.
Do you live with your wife as a business partnership? Is that marriage to you? Your children will absorb that cold attitude. They will form their view of marriage from their experience with you. They know that there is no communication or love between you and your wife.
Invariably when husbands and wives do not love each other they make up for it through throwing attention upon the children. That will not make up for the privation in the relationship. Children know the games parents play.
Make a fuss over your wife. Kiss your wife in front of your children. Walk down the street holding hands. We need to work at loving our wives. But we are too busy making a living. We do not court our mates anymore. We have bought and paid for her (and we are still making payments!). If we powered up some of the systems we used to win her in the first place, it would make a big difference in our current love for her. We are so self-centered and selfish that we expect our wives to pay attention to us all the time. What do we give in return? When we take each other for granted, then love begins to wither. Withered love is sickly love. It gets increasingly anemic until it dies.
Dad, your boys are going to be the same kind of husband that you are. They will treat their wives in a similar way that you do. They will be a chip off the old block. Begin loving your wife biblically now.