One of the primary jobs of a husband, according to the Bible, is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25ff). While there are other things involved, I believe this responsibility is critical for any Christian husband to follow. Yet this calling has a web of nuances and applications that span many different aspects of the marriage.
How is a husband supposed to love his wife? Sacrificially, yes. But the chances are slim that he is going to be called upon to die in place of his wife. Sacrificial love is played out in little things each day. My wife describes it as "penny deposits into the bank of love/trust." Regular deposits made in the normal, routine, daily happenings of life tend to accumulate compound interest in the long run, and will yield great dividends.
With this in mind, here are five ways a Christian husband must learn to love his wife.
1. Take Spiritual Leadership in the Home
God has created the home to function in certain ways that will both bring him great glory and provide tremendous joy in the marriage. One key aspect of this is biblical leadership in the home.
Husband, your wife doesn't want to have to insist on things like going to church each week, or praying together, or reading the Scriptures together. You need to take the initiative on these, and other aspects of your spiritual life together. Your wife wants you to lead her spiritually.
2. Put On Humility Every Day
Ephesians 5:25 flows out of a Spirit-controlled life (Eph. 5:18), and reflects the mutual submission we are to have with one another in marriage (Eph. 5:21). Submission smells of humility, but this is not the kind of humility where you just cow-tow to whatever your wife says or wants. It is the kind of humility that leads faithfully without being a chauvinist pig, a dictatorial monster, or a royal jerk.
Admit when you are wrong and confess that to God and your wife. Listen to her advice as you do not have a corner on wisdom. While you are the leader in the home, you have a partner who is your helper specially suited for you.
Clothe yourselves with humility (1 Peter 5:5) or face the opposition of God...and your wife. Humility leads graciously; it loves joyfully; it lives faithfully. You do not exist for your own pleasure, but for the pleasure of God first, then for the pleasure of your wife.
3. Converse With Your Wife
Conversing with your wife is more doable today than at any point in history.
You can converse digitally through texts, emails, Facebook messages, etc. Those are simple deposits into the love bank of your marriage, but they are not the primary form of communication.
We must converse personally as well. Nothing can replace the face-to-face conversations you have with your wife. Talk about your day. Your wife wants to know about it. Talk about your dreams and desires. Talk about your struggles.
This is admittedly my own weakness that I am working on. I tend to harbor things inside and stew over them in my mind, but when I do that, my relationship with my wife suffers.
Along with you talking, be sure to listen to her as well...without the TV on, or the phone in front of your face. Engage with her in conversation, and give her your attention.
4. Invest in Your Marriage
We make investments into things that we deem important.
RADICAL TRUTH ALERT!!! There is no more important human relationship to invest in than your relationship with your wife! Period!
Investing your time, your money, and your energy into your wife is a godly thing to do. This is what God has called you to do.
While spending time with other people is obviously important as well, no one is more important than your wife.
Invest in her life by taking her out on dates, buying her flowers for "no reason" other than you love her. Plan an overnight getaway. Go on walks. Be creative. Affirm her. Support her in her goals. This kind of investment is vital to the overall health of your marriage.
5. Do the Dishes
I remember reading a saying in the kitchen of my friend when I was in high school. It read, "I love a man with dishpan hands." I have never forgotten that.
This is not the only thing to be willing to help out with around the house, but it represents many others. Husband, learn to cook, at least basic meals, so that when your wife is gone you can feed yourself and your kids and she doesn't have to worry about it.
Do the dishes, or at least be willing and available to help with the process.
Contrary to popular (or unpopular) belief, household chores are not the sole responsibility of the wife. The husband lives in the house as well (and by the way, so do the children, who should also help, but that is another post).
Your wife is most likely just as tired as you are at the end of a busy day. Many hands make light work, and make for a more loving relationship.
These are just a few ways to show love. There are many more. Husband, love your wife. Flesh that out in the daily happenings of your home and marriage. If you do, God will be honored, and your marriage will be strengthened.