One of the big errors married men can make is to adopt a fatalistic, almost nihilistic, view of marriage. When Christian men quit trying to be better husbands and spiritual leaders, it begins a chain reaction that affects the entire family. Good marriages must be maintained; they take work. It’s simply too easy to get comfortable in a marriage relationship and eventually take it for granted. Just like muscles atrophy with age, marriages too can get weak over time unless they are strengthened on purpose.
I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. Proverbs 24:30–34 (ESV)
We take care of what we value most in life. The neglect of something valuable is a sad thing to witness. It’s common for us to do regular inspections of our valuable things so we catch problem areas before they get worse. Do our marriages deserve any less?
Leaders notice things before it’s too late. They see something on the horizon that others miss, and then take responsibility for it. When you see a marriage going the distance, getting better over time, you can be sure of one thing: someone is doing serious maintenance. They are working on improving the problem areas. If you are ready for that task in your own marriage, read on…
3 simple tips for being a spiritual leader in your marriage:
1. Stay humble before God
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:6–7 (NIV)
Godly husbands who lead well are humble before God. They unashamedly follow Him first and give Him the right to teach them, mold them, and correct them. If you want a stronger marriage, you will need God’s help. True submission to God helps you follow Him authentically, but also helps you lead others authentically. If you don’t want to be a phony leader in your home, don’t be a phony follower of Christ. Give Christ the first and final say on how to be a good husband.
If you don’t give God permission to correct you, the road ahead is going to get bumpy. The grace of God always flows to the humble. The proud and self-sufficient man misses out on God’s help; he’s on his own. Are you humble and teachable? Make yourself accountable to God through Scripture, the Holy Spirit’s leading, and other spiritual leaders. Before you proceed, consecrate yourself to God and check your pride at the door.
2. Love your wife sacrificially
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:25–31 (NIV)
Godly husbands who lead well will love their wives, even when it’s a sacrifice, or maybe even because it’s a sacrifice. Jesus adapted himself to our needs and gave Himself for us. He is our model for manhood and marriage. His selfless love and care can always be counted on. Loving the way Jesus loved us is no easy task but your wife deserves this kind of sacrificial love.
Be warned: Love is always easier at the beginning of a relationship, but our job is to maintain it through life’s ups and downs. It’s no one else’s job to meet your wife’s needs. And let’s be honest, you don’t want someone else to try. Whether it’s words of encouragement, frequent gifts, dates, a trip, or whatever…it’s your job to provide what she needs. If you find yourself only doing the things you like, your marriage gets weaker. Sacrificial love will strengthen it.
3. Never stop learning about your wife
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
Godly husbands who lead well keep learning about their wives through all seasons of life. As the years go by in a marriage, a wife’s needs will change. Your wife will need your support and understanding in more and different ways. Rise to this challenge. Kids, careers, and life challenges mature us all. Men honor their wives when they are compassionate about the season their wife is experiencing now. Choose to be just as passionate and curious about her today, as you were when your love was young.
God sees you and your spouse as joint heirs, sharing life together. You affect each other more than you realize. Time and care invested in your marriage today will pay lasting dividends for you both. God wants your marriage to be strong enough to go the distance, and He wants to use you to ensure that happens.