(This is the second post in the “How to Grow as a Husband” series. You can read the first post here.)
When I was in second grade, our teacher would have us pretend to put on what we called “Golden Rule Gloves.” We would pretend we were putting gloves on our fingers, pulling them down, and buttoning them. While we did this we said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. God is love. Love one another.” As we learn to grow as husbands, we need to learn how to put these words into practice when it comes to how we treat our wives.
You Need to Be Reminded of Some Basic Truths
When we begin to think about working on our marriages and growing as husbands, we think we need to hear things that we have never heard before. Our tendency is to think we need some kind of expert advice and the exhortation to be kind sounds like something from second grade. When we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have all spoken to our wives in rude ways we would not speak to another person. All husbands need to admit a simple fact, our marriages would be better if we treated our wives the way we were taught to treat people when we were in elementary school. Sometimes we just need to be reminded about the most obvious things.
Unfortunately men like to excuse our rude and harsh words by saying we weren’t thinking when we spoke this way, but that is the problem. The Bible takes our speech seriously, and Jesus speaks tough words about our unthinking speech when he says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Instead of speaking rudely and carelessly, husbands need to learn to treat their wives with kindness.
Love Your Closest Neighbor
The Bible says a lot about what marriage is but doesn’t give much “marriage advice.” Simply put, the way husbands and wives should treat each other is defined by basic Christian discipleship. If husbands treated their wives the way the Bible teaches a Christian should treat all people many of our marriages would experience exponentially more joy. Think for a second about Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:29-5:2. He wrote this to the church in Ephesus, giving specific instructions governing the relationships between individual Christians. At the same time if you apply these words to the marital relationship you will end up with a strong, loving relationship that brings glory to Jesus and great joy to the husband and wife.”
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
We’ll talk about something else Paul says in this passage in another post, but for now we just want to consider the words, “be kind to one another.” Paul does not speak here about niceness. Kindness possesses a more active quality than niceness. Kindness means that show active consideration to our wives and go out of our way to do good to them.
You Need To Take Some Action Steps
Think for a second men, have you fallen into the trap of treating your wife with either rudeness or indifference? Have you stopped showing her common courtesy and begun speaking to her harshly? Or have you begun to treat her as a silent partner in a business venture? You talk because you share money, a house, a schedule, and children, but you don’t take the time to talk about life and seek to draw her out?
The biblical authors recognized this tendency in men and spoke to them about it. In Colossians 3 Paul commands men to love their wives and not to be harsh with them. In 1 Peter 3 he tells men to live with their wives in an understanding way. Then he closes this injunction with the haunting words, “so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
If you are a man who treats his wife unkindly, you need to repent to the Lord and to your wife. Before the Lord confess your sin and receive the grace he offers through Jesus. Then go to your wife and be upfront with her about where you have failed. Do not make excuses, and then ask her to forgive you. When you begin to struggle in the future, stop and reflect on the kindness and patience God has shown you. The antidote you need is not a helping of guilt or a motivational speech about trying harder. You need to remember who God has been for you in Christ and model that to your wife. This will honor your wife, bring glory to God, and bring you an unspeakable joy.