As a father of three sons, I felt (and continue to feel) a huge responsibility to teach my boys what marriage is supposed to look like and how a Christian husband is supposed to love his wife. My sons are married now and raising children of their own. The following are 10 "lessons" I pray were caught by them as they seek to build a fulfilling and God-glorifying marriage that lasts a lifetime:
1. Marriage is God's idea
God created marriage and knows exactly what it takes to enjoy it as it was intended. Knowing what He says about it (in His Word) is crucial in order to become the husband He desires you to be.
("like Christ") and dying to your natural selfishness is not just hard - it is impossible. We are not capable in our flesh of loving another human being for a lifetime. We must remain desperate, daily, for His direction, wisdom, power and help. Jesus called his disciples (and us) to deny ourselves, take up our cross (die) every day and follow Him.
3. Your wife is God's daughter,
and you should treat her accordingly. He is watching, and you will be accountable for how you treat her.
4. Marriage is not about merely your wife making you happy
. It is about bringing glory to God and making her happy (see 1 Cor. 7:33-34). Your number one priority every single day (besides walking with God) is "pleasing your wife". If you obey God, He promises to bless you.
5. You, as her husband, are called by God to lead your marriage
. Leaders don't point the way, they lead the way. Lead by example — by walking with Christ every day — and by giving your life away for her. Love her regardless of her performance, her response or whether you think she "deserves" it. That is how Christ loves us…and aren't you glad?
6. Marriage is God's workshop
for showing you just how selfish you are and helping Him shape you more into His image. Marriage is the hardest and most rewarding relationship on the planet. The greatest enemy of your marriage is you (selfishness).
7. In 1 Corinthians 7:28 we learn that
married couples "will have many troubles in this life"
. Difficulties are normal. Issues and disagreements will come up. If you are walking in God's Spirit, there will be fruit (Gal. 5) in your life and relationship. If this fruit is not obvious, then the problem is you, not her. She is not the problem. Get with God and work on yourself. God will take care of her, and take care of any issues or troubles.
8. Contrary to popular opinion (even some Christian opinion) -
"fighting fair" or fighting at all is NOT Biblical.
Disagreeing is normal but fighting (arguing, raising your voice, using harsh tone and language) is totally unacceptable and a sin. She is not the enemy, but you DO have an enemy, and he is hell bent on destroying your marriage. Learn to recognize his schemes and use the "weapons of our warfare" that we have been given by Christ.
9. Jesus gave us the 11th commandment to "love one another as I have loved you"
Loving your wife "as Jesus loved us" means to be willing to lay down your life for her. He went to a cruel, painful cross because He loved us, and we need to be willing to also die to our agendas, desires and expectations. Ephesians 5 tells us to love our wife "as Christ loved church and gave himself up for her."
10. You cannot learn your way to a great marriage. Knowledge is great, and you should learn all you can about marriage and relationships. Knowing, however, is altogether different than doing. You won't lose weight by reading good weight loss books or attending seminars.
Marriage demands doing; it requires action
The Bible promises that you will reap bountifully if your sow bountifully. Love is a verb. Love bountifully.