So many marriages, Christian marriages included, are in trouble, and much of the blame falls on the fact that we have forgotten the order of things as ordained by God. Biblical wisdom tells us God must be first in all things – our hearts, our minds, our homes, our lives, and our marriages – next in this Biblically described and God-breathed order of things comes the spouse and honoring one another. We primarily go wrong with not putting God first; then we follow that up with putting other things, such as children, friends, work, or leisure activities, before our mate.
Why does it matter? God considered it important enough to put it in His Holy Word. That should be enough for us, but let us turn to God and dig deeper.
Jesus, when asked by a Pharisee, an “expert in the Law,” in Matthew 22:36 to tell them the greatest commandment, He responded in verse 37 saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind,” echoing Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
All Things in Their Place
Most of us will not dispute that God should be first, even if He is not. Next the Bible says we are to honor our spouse – husbands should honor God then his wife, wives should honor God then her husband. Second in God’s plan is being committed to and honoring one another. Peter and Paul left us these Bible truths to guide us.
Peter said this in his first letter written to the Jewish exiles in Asia Minor, “Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives” (1 Peter 3:1).
And for the wives, “submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).
Paul’s teachings included this: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25 ESV).
God knows that caring for our children is a time consuming, sometimes difficult, laborious job, which many of us are doing while working full time jobs outside the home also, but wives, stop and think of this before you use that argument, what things are you finding time for other than work and child care? Are you and your mate honoring one another?
What hobbies or other things – shopping (not with the kids), dinner with friends, or going to the gym – are you finding time for? I know that time for yourself, time to read your Bible daily and having downtime to relax and decompress is important, but consider some ways to make some time for your spouse, even if it is just a little here and there, or perhaps combine a leisure activity with spouse time. Make dinner with friends a couple’s dinner with husbands along.
Even if you are talking with the girls and him with the guys the message will be that you want to spend time with your friends but not to the extent that it excludes him. This will also help in honoring one another because many times we belittle our spouse to our friends behind his or her back.
The same principal applies in the opposite direction to husbands with their wives. A guy’s outing might be bowling go-cart racing, or fishing. Invite the wives and they can watch and gab while you race, join in the bowling, or read a book on the boat while you putter around the lake. God will honor this time because He works all things together for good. Believe it or not, the gals can enjoy some of the same things as the guys sometimes. The biggest boost to your relationship is the invitation. It lets your spouse know you want to be with him or her. This also is honoring one another.
Above All Else
Another area that is very sensitive but so important in a marriage is the sexual relationship. It is so easy to let that slide in the avalanche that is daily living when working and raising a family. You are both tired, and wives sometimes more than husbands, are already burning the candle at both ends and simply exhausted from too much to do with too little time to do it that they think this has to be sacrificed in the name of more sleep. God will help us because He knows how weak we are.
Wives, if you do not already know this you should; to your husband, sex means love. It’s not just for physical reasons, even though it may seem that way. And this sacrifice of sleep will do more for your marriage than hours devoted to something else, and if you could read your husband’s deepest feelings, the ones he hides even from himself, you would see how secure in his marriage and your love this makes him feel. Fulfilling your spouse’s needs is honoring one another.
Think about what makes you feel that way – him wrapping his arms tightly around you, bringing you flowers, or texting to say he loves you during the day – and then think of him withholding that thing because he is too tired to devote a few moments to something that would mean the world to you, a tangible expression of his love. Do you think you can sacrifice just a few more moments for the man you promised to love, honor and cherish, whose needs you promised to fulfill? It’s out of vogue now to think of catering to your husband’s needs. It’s all about “I’m not his slave, blah, blah, blah.” When you do this you are not honoring one another.
Back to Basics
Chose the most excellent way. What happened to having pride in being a wife? In serving our husbands the best we know how? Ladies, if you feel angry or irritated reading those words, please stop and remember Jesus. He said He came to serve us. He came not to be served, but to serve, and we are to serve Him. That is okay with us, but if that is okay, shouldn’t serving our family, knowing it will please Him be a worthy goal as well? If you feel like you are not strong enough to this, remember prayer changes things. Let us not forget in the busy hurry world of our everyday lives honoring one another.