Friday, November 19, 2010
Communication is perhaps hallmark of any relationship, and in marriage it is essential. Not only is communication with our spouses important, communication about our spouses is vitally important as well.
I have a friend who insists on telling me something negative about her husband every time I am around her. Now, I know her husband and he is a wonderful person. Her telling me negative things about her husband does not make me think badly of her husband, in fact, it reflects negatively on her.
Conversely, I know a few gentlemen whom I have never heard utter one negative comment about their wives. I find it a great picture of Christ and the church whenever a Christian couple make the choice to publicly speak well of their spouse. The Apostle Paul tells us that the true purpose of marriage is to reflect to the world the relationship between Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31,32)
We would never find the Lord Jesus criticizing the church to anyone, nor would we find the true church finding fault with the Lord Jesus. However, we have enemies who greatly tempt us to do so with our spouses. How easy it is to make a negative comment, to slip a "witty" jab in conversation, or to throw out a barbed "joke"! But these things not only reflect negatively upon the person speaking, they reflect negatively upon Christ and the church.
In a Christian marriage, men have a great need for affirmation. They need to believe and hear that their wives are on their side, believe in them and support them. Isn't that the role of the wife? To be the help-meet for their needs? (Genesis 2:18)
The Christian wife who truly wants to honor the Lord, must first choose to honor and reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:33) One of the first ways to do this is to find ways to affirm him. Now, believe me, as soon as we decided to do this, our enemy will begin to point out every flaw and dent in our husbands' armor. But we must make the choice not to fixate on those things, as Paul said, to know no man "after the flesh" (2 Corinthians 5:16). We must choose to believe what the Lord has said is true about our husbands in the spirit and affirm those things.
Let's look at that idea more closely. Perhaps he leaves his dirty socks in the middle of the floor. But did he work today to help pay the bills for the household? That is something that surely can be affirmed. "Thank you honey for working so hard for us." These affirmations need not only be in private. Just as women tend to want the fictional "romantic hero" to sweep us off our feet, men want the fictional "adoring woman" to stand up for him and support and affirm him in public. They want to feel certain that we are the biggest cheerleader on his team. And we should be. Tearing our husbands down -- to him or to others -- is never pleasing to the Lord, but is clearly something influenced by our enemies.
As Christian women, let's ask the Lord to show us places where we have failed to reverence and affirm our husbands. Let's ask first the Lord's forgiveness. Perhaps the Lord will lead us to ask our husband's forgiveness, too. Then let us ask the Lord to open our eyes to all the ways we can affirm and support our husbands. One way this happens in our house is we have a rule, "No Men Bashing Allowed." Women who enter our home and start to bash on men are usually told by me, "My husband, my son, my father and my Lord are all men. I don't allow men bashing here." If we make our homes a safe haven for our husbands, we will be the one to benefit the most and we will glorify the Lord in doing so.
So what is it that women need in a Christian marriage? Women need to know they are truly loved. Not just a quick, "I love you", but a true sacrificial love. This means that the Christian husband who wants to honor the Lord in his marriage must first choose to love his wife as himself. (Ephesians 5:33) He must decide to give the time and attention and caring to those things his wife cares about, whether he personally is interested in the thing or not. The Lord Jesus intimately cares about every detail of the church's life to the point He has numbered every hair on every head. The husband must have the willingness to be intimately involved in the cares of his wife.
Let's look at that thought a little closer. Perhaps a husband comes home and the wife has completed a bothersome project that day. She proudly wants to show it to her husband. He may be tempted to briefly look and turn his attention elsewhere. The heart of sacrificial love though, will stop to look at the details and listen --truly hear -- the things the wife has to say about the project. In doing so, he will say "I love you" in a greater way than any Hallmark card can ever express.
Men are often good at this during courtship, but after the wedding ceremony sometimes lose the incentive to be as interested in the things in which their wives are interested. I remember a Christian wife one time telling me her husband would never notice anything she had worn, that he had no comment or even apparent recognition of her apparel. How sad this is, considering the evident care she had taken in getting dressed.
Love and reverence. . .two of the things the Christian couple is called to fulfill in marriage, can be such a pleasure to each other, and surely a pleasure to the Lord. When we obey the Lord in that which He has called us to do, we worship Him in the greatest way possible.