Have you ever really stopped to think about it? To truly love your spouse involves more than just your feelings. It is hard to fathom because feelings are what got us to be together in the first place. And whether we realize it or not they were selfish at the time. Yeah I just said that.
I mean think about it. You got together with your husband/wife because of how they made you feel. You felt loved, cared for, important, like you were the center of the universe.
But what do you do when those feelings wear thin? Maybe for some of you out there you have never experienced this. Praise God for it! However, for the rest of us who aren’t so blessed how do we love our spouse beyond the ways we feel. There maybe days where deep down you know you love your spouse just don’t really like them at the moment. Is that unbiblical? To be completely honest I’m not sure. I know to hate someone in my heart equates to murder (Matt 5:21-22), but to dislike someone for a short period of time? I really don’t know.
On to what I do know is there is mutual act of submission which must take place in the relationship in order for it to work in God’s economy. Ephesians 5:22-33 gives us the best example of how husbands and wives should interact with one another. This is not an easy section of Scripture to surrender ourselves to for many reasons. Most of all in our society submission is misunderstood, and the way it is used in this NT letter challenges everything we know about it.
For the Husbands
I want to speak particularly to men since I am a man. We are specifically told we are to love our wives as Christ has loved the church. You may be asking what does it look like? Paul answers this question like he knew it was going to come. Paul says, Christ gave himself up for her, sanctifiying her washing with with water with the word(being the word of God). He also says we are to love them as we love our own bodies, because as we love our wives we love ourselves.
So you may still be wondering what do I do? Lets’ put some feet to this shall we. When you have the opportunity to do something nice for your wife even thought it may cost you your last bit of money, you were saving for yourself. You use it on her instead. You are praying for her continually. You are helping her grow in grace, by helping her understand the Word. You are putting her first in all things (outside of Christ of course). She comes before your parents, your children, or anyone else in your life.
When you have a disagreement you are the first to apologize even if you think she is the one who is wrong. You cover her with grace and mercy. Why because you are of one flesh. You would give yourself a pass in certain situations, she deserves the same. The same way you want to be taken care of she should be looked after, because she is a part of you.
It is easy in our fallen nature to forget these things or worse for us to willingly neglect these things. As Christian men we have to be intentional about the things we do with and for our wives. Just like everything else in the Christian life we cannot sit back and expect it to magically happen. It requires work, and sometimes lots of it. But it is all worth it.
For the Wives
Since I have covered the men, I’d like to speak briefly to the women. These are not easy verses for a man to hear. And he is going to screw up from time to time. Please offer him the same grace you would want. While there are not many things Paul asks you to do as women in this section the two things he does ask are a pretty big deal. He asks you submit to your husband in everything, and that you respect him.
These are not easy tasks in your fallen state either. IF your husband is a Christian (which I hope he is) then he should be seeking God on how to lead your family. And as he does this, your submission to him equates obedience to God, and ultimately submission to Him.
Now respect is a hard thing to nail down. It shows itself in many different forms. It can be simple as not arguing with him about every decision he makes (which also falls under submission). Then there is not talking badly about him to others, especially those closest to you both. Being supportive in his endeavors, allowing him to have some times alone or with friends (as long as he has spent some quality time with you of course), not nagging about things. The list could go on.
Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart to help you know how to love your spouse despite your circumstances and station in life, because they can always change. You when both are busy seeking God for your lives and each other things will look differently than when all you had was feelings and emotions to guide you and those are the times you will cherish. Of course those feelings and emotions are still important but following God’s lead will make all the difference on those days you may just not like the other person. Choose to see them how God see’s them, and watch those feelings change.
Question: How do you find ways to love your spouse even when you don’t feel like it?
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