The quality of a man’s marriage life is based on his ability to die to himself. Healthy marriages are intentionally built on selflessness and they self-destruct as a result of negligence. If there is something wrong with the marriage, the man must be the first to look into his own character and contribution to see where he is failing.
As men, we must love our wives more than we love our own bodies, and we must remember that she is supremely valuable, more than our own lives. She makes up half of us, and as a result, we can’t function without her as a body could not function without half of its parts. As men, therefore, we do well to serve our other half by regarding it as more important than ourselves.
There is supreme value in the fact that she gave her life to you.
She has entrusted her life into your care, and how you value this responsibility will determine your momentum to serve her wants and needs. The answer to whether or not your wife feels cherished needs to be nothing less than obvious, as now her life takes precedence as the most important relationship you have other than God Himself.
As men we’ll fail and succeed at many things, but if we are not succeeding in the area of marriage then we are failing all the more at the first and most important relationship God has given us to care for. Let it never be true to stand in front of God as a husband who did not excel at loving, serving, and cherishing deeply his wife, the one we can’t live without.
Her radiance is a reflection of how well you have loved her. A lovable woman has been loved well, and the radiance of a woman is a reflection of how well she has been taken care of by her husband. If she is a garden, her husband is the gardener. There are many little foxes that creep into the garden and damage its produce, so it’s our responsibility to keep them out. In other words, we have the responsibility to protect our marriages from worldly harm.
We not only keep out the little foxes but we till the soil and cultivate the plants. Gardening is hard work. It takes time and patience. It takes timing. It can be messy, but in the end it’s a beautiful reflection of the labor of our love.
Your body doesn’t belong to you.
Our bodies first belong to God. Second, our bodies belong to our wife. This means that we must give up the rights to claim ownership over ourselves. God is honored when men are good stewards of their bodies by taking care of them with a good diet, exercise, and sleep, and a woman is also blessed in the marriage as a result.
This opens the door for good men to use their bodies to serve their wives and those around them in a more productive, life-giving way. We take of ourselves so we can take care of others. We don’t indulge our lusts for satisfaction, but honor God and our wives with how we maintain and use our bodies for the good of serving them.
She is your standard of beauty.
You might say “I like this” or “I like that” but whatever you say must be exactly what your wife is. If she’s tall then you like tall. If her hair is brown then you like brown hair. She sets the standard of beauty for you. We must not fall victim to the phenomenon of “unseeing” the beauty and elegance of our wives by thinking there is a greener pasture on the other side. Being satisfied in all that she is will honor her and God and will allow you to celebrate her beauty by making her feel beautiful. She is beautiful and she needs to know it and hear it often.
She’ll lock you out if you keep neglecting her.
We make emotional deposits with every moment that we pursue our wives, and with every act of neglect or harsh treatment we make withdrawals. Her account needs to be far in the black because if it goes into the red, the door of her heart will begin to shut, and with each act of negligence the key to that door incrementally gets closer to being thrown away. There is almost no hope once the door is shut and the key is thrown away, and it is possible for a man to damage his wife into emotional paralysis.
Every man will make withdraws at some point, but a good husband will make sure that she is loved richly by giving her a surplus of emotional deposits.
The biblical ideals are inexhaustibly challenging but worth our resolve. The charge to give ourselves up for our wives as Christ gave himself up for the church keeps us humble about our performance, because as sinners who want the universe to revolve around us, there is no greater challenge.
A good husband understands that even the smallest selfish act is against God’s will for marriage: Not what I want, but what she wants. Not what I prefer, but what she prefers. Although it is important to understand wants and needs, it still remains principally true that we treat her as more important than ourselves and that we lay down our lives for her precisely by dying to ourselves.
We Need Grace
The need for grace sinks into my heart because I am an obvious failure in these areas. I’m sinful, and this puts unwanted dissonance in my marriage. But even so, there is hope in God’s grace.
God’s grace empowers us to love like Christ loves and give up our lives to serve our wives. He gives us grace to pursue her with deep affection and encourage her with gentle, life-giving words. In this grace we can lead her with selflessness and strength. We can deposit emotional, practical, and provisional investments into her heart. We can love her more than we love our own bodies by giving up rightful claim over ourselves, and by always pursuing her needs over our own.
We must lean into God’s grace and embrace him passionately. It is his Spirit that empowered Christ to love freely and to lay down his life, and likewise, it is the same Spirit that will enable us to fulfill the charge to love our wives and to be the life-giving men God designed us to be.