“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”
God gives both positive and negative responsibilities to the husband in this verse. Most people feel their marital problems are due to exceptional misfortune. This kind of thinking is erroneous. It is a naive but sincere belief by many.
“Husbands, love your wives”
God never gives the husband’s leadership the prerogative of authoritarianism. Leadership is never an excuse for thoughtless neglect or abuse. The standard for the husband’s leadership in the home is “love.”
In this passage, Paul puts his finger on the husband’s primary role 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. Love of the husband is the complement to the wife’s submission (complementarianism in marriage).
The Greek has three words for love. The first word means to love passionately; sometimes, it carries the idea of lust. The second word refers to the love of affection; this love 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 essential aspect of love; however, it is not the key to marriage. The key is sacrificial love, the love where the husband puts his wife first, where a husband respects, values, cherishes, and honors his wife.
The Greek tense for “love” indicates that his love should be an ongoing attitude and action of love. The husband loves his wife, not until she says or does something he does not like. God wants him to persist in loving his wife. He wants him to establish a propensity, a trend, a manner of life, a habit of loving her.
The husband’s role is to love his wife to such a degree that she becomes secure in that love. Jesus loved us with sacrificial love. He was under no illusions about who and what we were. 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 brings the lover out of himself. Love gives his interest, time, pleasures, ambitions, and friends.
Often husbands give their wives everything but themselves. They cannot rephrase the hymn “Take my wife and let her be!” When we first fell in love, we treated our wives with 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 have been married for a few years? Now that the honeymoon is over, we let her shift for herself. We neglect to give her the love that God expects of us.
How much should the husband love his wife? We find the answer in Ephesians 5:25. God wants us to love our wives just like Jesus loved the church–He died on the cross for the church. If we do not love our wives enough to die for them, we do not love them enough.
The primary biblical role of the husband is to make the wife feel secure in his love.
Do you live with your wife as a business partner? Is that marriage to you? Your children will identify that cold attitude. They will form their view of marriage from their experience with you. They know 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 by throwing attention upon the children. That will not make up for the deprivation in the relationship. Children know the games parents play.
Give priority to your wife. Kiss your wife in front of your children. Walk down the street holding hands. We need to prioritize loving our wives, yet we are too busy making a living. We do not court our wife anymore. We have bought and paid for her (and we are still making payments!). If we powered up some of the actions we used to win her in the first place, it would make a big difference in our love for her. We are so self-centered and selfish that we expect our wives to always pay attention to us. 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 will be the same kind of husband 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 for their sake.