What I've Learned in Marriage 16-We all have times when we feel powerless, especially in marriage, but we all have the power of influence. And whether we intentionally exercise that power or not, it still has an effect on our marriage. We need to be aware of that power and use it to benefit our marriage rather than passively allowing it to undermine it. How do we do that? It is different for every person and every marriage, but there are some basics that are fairly universal.
Whether we admit it or not, all women need to be shown love. Even the tough, strong women need to be loved by their husband. How they feel love will be different based on the person, so men you need to figure out how your wife feels love (see the 5 Love Languages and my last post for more on that).
Conversely, all men need respect. Deep down, that is at the core of manhood and wives have huge influence based on how they deal with that one issue. By respecting our husbands, we give them the courage and motivation to take on the difficult task of leading our families. By not respecting them, we instead place ourselves as head and in a sense cripple their ability to lead. We subtly demean them and begin an ever increasing downward spiral that will not end until we are willing to stop the disrespect. Some wives may say that their husband isn’t respectable, and that may be true in some ways, but whether they deserve it or not, it is still their due (see my post on that). And we are commanded by God to give it to them,
Ephesians 5:33New American Standard Bible (NASB)
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
so by disrespecting them, we are not only demeaning our husbands and undermining our marriages, we are directly disobeying God. In the same way, husbands are commanded to love their wives as much as they love them selves. So men, by putting yourself first and/or treating your wife in an unloving way, you are also disobeying God and using your power negatively, which will destroy your marriage.
In our culture, we are often told that we need to make sure that we are taken care of first, or only give once we get what we are due, but that is contrary to the ways of God. That mindset is selfish and sinful, and will destroy your marriage. God’s command is not conditional. It does not say to love only if you are respected, or to respect only if you are loved. We need to serve even if we are never served ourselves.
Christ died to pay for your sins and even offered forgiveness to you long before you asked it and willingly gave it to you even though you could never deserve it. Can you not extend that same grace to your spouse? To respect/love him/her before they do the same for you? Are you better than God that you can make that demand? God’s laws are created for our good and benefit. He commanded that we love/respect/serve our spouses regardless of how they treat us because He knows that is the best way for us to live. It is for our good. That is the only way to have a good, thriving marriage.
So how will you use your power? Will you use it to serve yourself or your spouse? To build up your marriage or to tear it down?