The quality of a man’s marriage is based on his ability to die to himself. Healthy marriages are intentionally built on selflessness, and they self-destruct when neglected. If there is something wrong with the marriage, the man must first look into his character and contribution to see where he is failing.
As men, we must love our wives more than we love our own bodies, and we must remember that she is supremely valuable, more than our own lives. She makes up half of us, and as a result, we can’t function without her as a body cannot function without half of its parts. As men, therefore, we do well to serve our other half by regarding it as more important than ourselves.
1. Consider it supremely valuable that she gave her life to you.
She has entrusted her life into your care, and how you value this responsibility will determine your momentum to serve her wants and needs. The answer to whether your wife feels cherished needs to be nothing less than obvious, as now her life in your regard takes precedence as the most crucial relationship that you have other than God Himself.
As men, we’ll fail and succeed at many things, but if we are not succeeding in the area of marriage, then we are failing all the more at the first and most important relationship that God has given us. Let it never be true to stand in front of God as a husband who did not excel at loving, serving, and cherishing his wife genuinely.
2. Her radiance is a reflection of how well you have loved her.
A lovable woman has been loved well, and the radiance of a woman is a reflection of how well she has been taken care of. If she is a garden, then her husband is the gardener. Many little foxes creep into the garden and damage its produce, so it’s our responsibility to keep them out.
In other words, we have the responsibility to protect our marriages from harm. We not only keep out the little foxes but we till the soil and cultivate the plants. Gardening is hard work. It takes time and patience. It takes timing. It can be messy, but in the end, it’s a beautiful reflection of the labor of our love.
3. Your body doesn't belong to you. It belongs to God and her.
Our bodies first belong to God. Second, our bodies belong to our wives. We must give up the right to claim ownership over ourselves. God is honored when men are good stewards of their bodies by taking care of them with a proper diet, exercise, and sleep, and a woman is blessed in the marriage as a result.
This opens the door for good men to use their bodies to serve their wives and those around them in a more productive, life-giving way. We take of ourselves so that we can take care of others. We don’t indulge our lusts for satisfaction, but honor God and our wives with how we maintain and use our bodies for the good of serving them.
4. She is your standard of beauty.
You might say “I like this” or “I like that,” but whatever you say must be exactly what your wife is. If she’s tall, then you like tall. If her hair is brown, then you like brown hair. She sets the standard of beauty for you. We must not fall victim to the phenomenon of “unseeing” the beauty and elegance of our wives by thinking there is a greener pasture on the other side.
Being satisfied in all that she is will honor her and God and will allow you to celebrate her beauty by making her feel beautiful. She is beautiful, and she needs to know it and hear it often.
5. She'll lock you out if you keep neglecting her.
We make emotional deposits with every moment we pursue our wives, and we make withdrawals with every neglect or harsh treatment. Her account needs to be far in the black because if it goes into the red, then the door of her heart will begin to shut, and with each act of negligence, the key to that door incrementally gets closer to being thrown away.
There is almost no hope once the door is shut, and the key is thrown away. A man can damage his wife unto emotional paralysis. Every man will make withdraws at some point, but a good husband will make sure that she is loved richly by giving her a surplus of emotional deposits.
6. The biblical ideals are inexhaustibly challenging and worth our resolve.
The charge to give ourselves for our wives as Christ gave himself for the church keeps us humble about our performance, because as sinners that want the universe to revolve around us, there is no more significant challenge.
A good husband understands that even the smallest selfish act is grinding against God’s will for his marriage. Not what I want, but what she wants. Not what I prefer, but what she prefers. Although it is vital to understand wants and needs, it remains principally true that we treat her as more important, and that we lay down our lives for her precisely by dying to ourselves.
7. We need grace to be life-giving husbands.
The need for grace sinks into my heart because I am a glaring failure in these areas. I’m sinful, and this puts unwanted dissonance in my marriage. But even so, there is hope in God’s grace. God’s grace empowers us to love like Christ loves by giving up our lives to serve our wives. He gives us the grace to pursue her with deep affections and by always encouraging her with gentle, life-giving words. In this grace, we can lead her with selflessness and strength.
By God’s grace, we can deposit emotional, practical, and provisional investments into her heart. We can love her more than we love our bodies by giving up rightful claim over ourselves, and by always pursuing her needs over our own. We must lean into God’s grace and embrace Him passionately.
It is His Spirit that empowered Christ to love freely and to lay down his life; likewise, it is the same Spirit that will enable us to fulfill the charge to serve our wives and to be the life-giving men that He designed us to be.