Why would God ask me to love my wife? I wouldn’t have married her if I didn’t love her! Perhaps it’s because He knows that I need to have a tender heart towards my wife and handle her needs with care. I am learning that loving my wife is critical to my success in life, especially since I realise that if I am not considerate towards her or treat her with kindness and respect my prayers will be hindered.
Our role is simply stated in Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church”. I believe that one clear scriptural part of a husband’s role is to help his wife be the best that God wants her to be and this can only be achieved by really getting to know and understand her.
What does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the Church?
The first thought that comes to mind is unconditional sacrifice. Your love for your wife must be sacrificial, that is, not seeking to get but looking for every opportunity to give.
The second is that your love for your wife is expressed through serving her. Christ led from a standpoint of service and your leadership is exemplified in your actions through serving your wife; this helps to live out your Christian faith and model the love of Christ.
The third thought is that you take responsibility for your wife’s growth and development (personal and spiritual). Your role is to model Christ to her in your conduct and through this help her become more Christ-like. It is crucial that you are your wife’s most loyal fan; that you are able to see the best that she can become and that your actions, choices and decisions are aimed at helping her get to this place where her potential is maximised. That is exactly what Christ does and is still doing with His church even now. He sees beyond where we are now and patiently, but firmly, urges us on towards a better future. In our attempt to assess ourselves against Christ’s example, every husband must ask himself this question frequently: “Is my wife a better Christian and a better person because she is married to me?”
A good place to start will be to learn from the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Although it is important to consider how these love languages are expressed and appreciated on an individual level, the book provides some general direction for us as we seek to ensure our wives feel loved by us. Here are the ways to love your wife:
Build her up with your words
Verbal appreciation, affirmation and encouragement speak powerfully of your love for your wife, especially in a case where affirmation is her primary love language. Simply stating how beautiful she looks or how good her dress looks on her, or how wonderful her cooking is, will make her feel really loved. Reinforcing your faith in her when she has just made a difficult decision, calling her attention to some progress she has made on a project or acknowledging her unique perspective on an important topic all help to overcome insecurities, develop confidence and enhance her feelings of love.
Spend quality time with her
Arguably, every woman feels loved and cared for when they spend quality time with their husband, doing activities that they love to do. It must be stressed that quality time is more than merely being around her. It’s about focusing all your energy on her.
Give her a gift
Most women respond well to visual symbols of love. If your wife associates gifts with your love for her, she will treasure any gift as an expression of your love and devotion, and may often feel that a lack of gifts represents a lack of love from you.
Doing the laundry or taking out the trash requires some form of planning, time, effort, and energy and your wife will appreciate the thought you put into serving her in this way. As Jesus demonstrated when he washed the feet of his disciples, doing chores or going out of your way to make these chores a little bit easier can be a very powerful expression of love and devotion to your wife.
Many women feel the most loved when they receive physical contact from their husbands, especially when it is least expected. Physical touch, including non-sexual and sexual, enhances feelings of security and love in a marriage. It is important to realise that a woman’s most erogenous part of her body is her heart. This means that if one is to express love through physical touch, we must first touch her heart by affirming her, spending time with her, serving her and giving selflessly to her.
Listen to her with an accepting ear
A husband must be willing to listen to his wife’s point of view, to think through issues with her and be sensitive to her feelings, moods and ideas. A woman feels loved when she is listened to. It tells her that her opinion is valued, that she is important to her husband and that he respects and esteems her.
Ensure she is secure and protected
You must recognise that your wife is designed differently from you by God and strengthening her in places where you are stronger is important. You are to tend and care for her as the “weaker” party and this understanding should reflect in how you treat her physically and emotionally. She must feel that your loyalty to her is second only to your loyalty to God and she must come to expect to be treated with respect and consideration and to be sure you will seek to protect her from any hurtful situations.
Treat her as a partner, not a subordinate
The woman God has given each of us is an individual with spiritual rights equal to ours. Paying attention to this instruction, the Bible says, will ensure our prayers are not inadvertently hindered. This means in essence that if your relationship is not right with your wife, it cannot be right with God.
Explore, discover and meet her needs
When all is said, it is absolutely crucial that you find out what your wife’s individual needs are. Ask her about what she would like you to do and do it. Ask God for help to love your wife and remember that none of us is able to be what God calls us to be by relying on our own strength.