Few men appreciate long articles on how to behave—especially as to how we ought to treat our wives, so here, based on Ephesians 5, are our duties summed up in terms of their pattern and their practice.
Christ is our pattern. Our basic precept for marriage is, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” (Eph. 5:25a). Following Christ’s pattern of loving His bride, each of us is to love his wife in these ways:
- Absolutely. Christ gives “Himself” for His bride—His total self (v. 25). He holds nothing back. That is obvious from what He has done (think of Calvary), is doing (think of His constant intercession in heaven), and will do (think of His Second Coming). So we too are called to radical, absolute giving of ourselves to our wives in authentic love.
- Realistically and purposely. Christ goes on loving the church, despite her spots and wrinkles, so that He can present her perfect to His Father in the Great Day (vv. 26–27). Our love must be both realistic (remembering our wives are sinners just like us) and purposeful (aiming for their holiness).
- Sacrificially. Christ nourishes and cherishes His bride at His own expense (vv. 28–29). So ought we husbands treat our wives at our own expense with the same care that we treat our bodies. If you get something in your eye, you give it immediate, tender care. Do you treat your wife with that same care when she is hurting?
How should we practice this pattern?
Show great interest in your wife as a person. Care about her. Ask her how her day went and how the kids behaved today. Ask her about her dreams, fears, and frustrations. Learn to listen so that she opens up the more.
Pray for your wife privately and with her. Lay out her needs before God. Be earnest in praying for her spiritual growth, and for relief in physical and emotional difficulties. Let her feel your strength and your tenderness on her behalf at God’s throne of grace.
Love your wife lavishly. Love her as she is—faults included. Please her (1 Cor. 7:33). Respect and honor her, and treat her tenderly (1 Peter 3:7). Tell her every day how much you love her. Shower her with affection. Cherish her as God’s special gift to you.
Heap praise on her. Tell her how beautiful and wonderful she is in your eyes. Be intimate, specific, creative, and repetitive in your compliments. Compliment her kindness, her smile, her dress, her hair, and a thousand other things. Compliment her with affection in your voice, with love in your eyes, and with arms of embrace. Praise her in the presence of others (Prov. 31:28). Never allow the children to speak disrespectfully about her.
Learn what your wife enjoys. Does she enjoy walking together? Walk with her. Eating out? Take her out. Learn to love what she loves as much as possible. Cultivate shared friendship and interests. The more you find to do in common, usually the better your marriage will be.
Provide your wife with biblical, tender, clear servant leadership, not ruthless authoritarianism. Following Christ as your pattern, delight in serving her (Matt. 20:25–26). Be the spiritual leader of your wife and children. Be the father-shepherd, a gentle giant in the home.
Never forget the differences between men and women; become an expert in knowing and responding to the way your wife is. Never allow any relationship to take priority over your friendship with your wife. Never criticize her over small things; as for big things, do it with great tenderness and love, at the right time, and in the right setting. Never compare your wife unfavorably to other people, or criticize her in front of other people. Never fail to give your wife sufficient freedom so that she can strive to be her own kind of a Proverbs 31 woman. Do not smother her or try to control her personality. Never stop being a courteous gentleman.
In conclusion, remember this: if both you and your wife put God first, each other second, and yourselves third, you will be guaranteed a truly blessed marriage.