A husband is also responsible for providing love to his wife (Ephesians 5:25). The word translated love in this passage is the Greek word agape. Agape is a love that serves, or a devotion to the one being loved. The example given is the love Christ had for the church. Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to die so we could have salvation. Yet remember this: Christ died for us while we were enemies of God (Romans 5:8). The love that a husband must have for his wife is one that is constant. It must be a devotion to his wife that remains even if it is not returned.
This is a hard pill to swallow. It is easy to love someone who loves you, but can you love someone who isn’t speaking to you? “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Before the wedding, we imagine the continual bliss married life will bring us. Being married is wonderful, but put two people in the same house for a length of time and there are bound to be disagreements. Consider how many spats you had with your parents and siblings when you were growing up. The bumps in the road of life don’t go away just because you are married.
When a husband and wife have a disagreement, it is the husband’s responsibility to make the first move toward resolution. I am not saying that the husband must always give in to his wife’s demands. If that were the case, the wife would be the head of the family. The two of you might not agree on some point. You might have just finished the biggest argument in the history of marriage. You might have even been right. But it is the husband who needs to be willing to step back and say, “Let’s stop fighting. I love you too much to be yelling at you.”
I remember one young husband who came to me after a fight with his wife. He was frustrated because she wouldn’t come to church with him that evening. What amazed him was that the fight started over such a minor thing and he couldn’t understand how it escalated into such a major battle. I told him to stop at a nearby grocery store that sold flowers, pick up a small bouquet and present it to his wife when he got home. “But the fight wasn’t my fault,” he replied shocked. “It doesn’t matter whose fault it was,” I told him. “Give her the flowers and tell her you are sorry.” “But I wasn’t the one in the wrong,” he said in disbelief. “It doesn’t matter. You fought when you should have made peace.” It took a while to convince him, but he finally agreed to give it a try. The next day he called, “You won’t believe what happened! I barely got to the door when she pulled me in. We apologized and said we were sorry. It was the best night we had in weeks. You know, I can’t even remember what the fight was about now.”
A husband must be willing to be the first to say “I was wrong” even if he feels that he is always the one saying it. Husbands cannot let their pride interfere with their duty to lead their family down the paths of righteousness.
A relationship could be built on pure devotion, but it won’t be much fun. The time husbands spend with their wives needs the spice of affection. I Corinthians 7:3 talks of the sexual duty a husband owes his wife, but sex isn’t meant to be a job, it is a source of enjoyment (Proverbs 5:18-19). The enjoyment in marriage is not just in intercourse but in all of life (Ecclesiastes 9:9). A husband owes his wife affection – the expressions of endearment and the acts of kindness that lets his wife know she is the most important thing in his life. It doesn’t even have to be anything major or costly. It can be the kiss and the whispered “I love you” when you first awake each morning. It can be the offer to change the diaper for no particular reason. Hold hands when you walk. Open the door for her. Smile when your eyes meet across the room. Hide love notes for her to find. Women form relationships based on emotions. The emotions of love and stability must be present first before physical expressions of love can be easily shown.
And if you do these things just to get her into the mood for sex, you missed the point. Husbands should be showing their wives they care about them. If each thing you do leads to a repayment in sexual intercourse, then it becomes obvious to your wife that you only care about your own satisfaction. Yes, sex is an expression of affection, but it is not the only one and it is not the most important one. I find it fascinating that the book of Song of Solomon, which has much to say about sexual relationship ends with two statements; each expressing what that person wants most. He says “O you who sit in the gardens, my companions are listening for your voice—Let me hear it!” His greatest desire is her companionship. She says “Hurry, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.” Her greatest desire is to have some fun (sex) with her husband. By the husband’s desire for his wife’s companionship, he lights the fire of her desire for sex. Husbands concentrate on your wife’s needs and your needs will be met.