This article is a follow-up to Dr. Brad Harrub’s article, “Husbands, it wasn’t a suggestion.

Wives, love your husbands. Sounds easy enough, right? I mean that IS why we married them in the first place! However, anyone who has been married more than twenty years understands that loving our husbands is not always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult at times. Those feelings we felt at the beginning of our marriage may or may not still be there. Those butterflies we once had have all fluttered away. Why does this happen in many marriages?

It has always been interesting to me to read the words that Paul writes in his letter to Titus in chapter 2, verse 4. Paul is urging Titus to charge the “older women” to “admonish the young women to love their husbands….” Why on earth would these younger women have to be TAUGHT to love their husbands? Shouldn’t love for your husband come naturally? If love has to be taught, then it can’t just be a feeling. It is something you LEARN to do. It is intentional and purposeful. Learning anything, if done wholeheartedly, requires diligence, humility and discipline. It requires engaging our minds to whatever is being learned. Loving our husbands is no exception. We learn to love our husbands IN SPITE of our feelings.

If you are a Christian wife, you are in a covenant relationship with your husband, and have already committed to loving him and submitting to him, even when those butterflies have long gone (Gen. 2:24; Malachi 2:14; Matt. 19:6). How important is this covenant? Christ uses the picture of marriage to describe His church, the church for which He died. The picture of the God-given hierarchy of marriage that is painted in scripture is referenced in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:22-33. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of woman. God created woman, not as inferior, but to be honored as the “weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).

In a post-modern culture, being the weaker vessel is not always popular or even understood. The wave (tsunami!) of feminism has done a fantastic job in teaching us that women are equal to men and should enjoy the same benefits or “rights” as men do. While it is true that God shows no partiality between men and women in regard to their salvation (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34), it is absolutely NOT true that men and women are alike and should therefore share the same roles. This way of thinking is contrary to what the Scriptures teach. In fact, every scripture dealing with this topic points to the very opposite!

Wives, be thankful that your husband carries the responsibilities and burdens of this life. That means that you don’t have to! In turn, be thankful that God, in His infinite wisdom, made it one of our primary purposes to minister to and serve our husbands, which in turn brings glory to God. This is what is meant by Genesis 2:18. It was not good for man to be alone….woman was created to be a suitable helper for him. Are you fulfilling that God-given role in your marriage? Or are you pursuing your own goals and interests? Are you planning your days based on what you want to do, or are you considering ways in which you can be a “suitable helper” for your husband?

Let’s consider for a moment what happens when this doesn’t work the way it is designed to. As humans we are not perfect and often fall short of His plan for us. Satan has definitely put up some barriers that hinder us from loving our husband as we should. First and foremost, selfishness hinders us from loving our husband.  We live in a world that embraces and encourages self-indulgence. We are constantly told to do what feels right for us. On the contrary, we show love to our husband by putting him above our own wishes and desires. Don’t miss this point: You are to love your husband even when he is not lovable, and yes, even when he is not loving you! This is the picture of Godly love. This is precisely how God loves us. We aren’t always loveable. We don’t always love God the way we should. He loves us anyway.

Christ illustrates this concept of Godly love in Matthew 5:46 by admonishing us to love our enemies. But it is very applicable in the context of loving our husband. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Godly love looks different than worldly love. Godly love transcends human nature. Godly love suffers long and is kind. It does not envy nor parade itself. It does not behave rudely nor does it seek its own. It is not provoked, nor does it think evil things. It bears and endures all things (1 Corinthians 13). God’s mercies are new every morning, and He is faithful to help you rid your heart of selfishness and fill it with the Godly love that is defined throughout His holy word.

Another barrier to loving our husbands is an attitude of bitterness. Bitterness is not something that happens overnight, but builds up slowly over time. It might be a disagreement that wasn’t resolved, or feeling taken advantage of because your husband leaves clothes on the floor. It might be his lack of gratitude or appreciation for something you did for him.  It might be his lack of spiritual guidance that you feel he is not providing to you. Bitterness can have its roots in so many subtle ways, and if not dealt with immediately and properly, can destroy a marriage relationship little by little, day by day. Wives, your husband is not always going to do the things you want him to do or the things you think he should. He is not always going to be “washing you with the Word” (Ephesians 5) or building you up like you think he should. When you find yourself complaining or feeling that you are being treated unjustly by your husband, apply Matthew 5 again. Love your husband, bless him, do good to him, and pray for him.

This goes against our human nature! It takes perseverance and humility.  One way to do this is to focus on the positive things that he does. Another way is to look in the mirror and ask yourself if YOU are being the wife that God wants you to be. There is a good chance that there are areas in your marriage where you can work and improve upon. Oftentimes, when you stop focusing on the negative things that you see in your husband, and work on improving yourself, the negative things fade away and become less significant. Or better yet, you might even realize that those negative things weren’t there at all but were just seeds of bitterness that had crept in and started to sprout and grow because of your perspective on things.

Finally, overcommitment hinders us from loving our husbands. We are simply overloaded with things to do and places to be. Satan uses this “busyness” to distract us from our responsibilities at home, at church, with our children, etc. As a homeschool mom, this one is a daily struggle for me. Some days go by and I feel as though I haven’t even talked to my husband because of the responsibilities that go along with everyday life as a Christian, wife, and mother. There will always be someone who needs your help. There will always be a family that could use a meal. There will always be people to visit or Bible studies to conduct. There will always be someone to be visited in the nursing home. There will always be friends getting together for fun and fellowship. While these things are important and should be included in our Christian walk, we can easily become guilt-ridden and overwhelmed and allow these things to take precedence over managing our homes.

Sometimes in this process, we forget to love our husbands by making sure we are being available to them. He spends many hours working so that he can provide for his family. We need to love our husbands by showing gratitude for those provisions. Psalm 46:10 is one of my “go to” verses when I am feeling this stress: “Be still and know that I am God.” When life gets busy, take time to be still and meditate on His word. This goes a long way in allowing peace to rule in your heart so that you can focus on those important things to which you are called.

Wives, loving our husbands is not based on a feeling. It is not something that comes naturally. The world has done an incredible job of convincing us that love is all about “feeling”; that if we’re feeling good, then things are great, and if we’re not then there’s something wrong. But LOVE is an action word. It is something we learn to do as we grow and study God’s Word. It is something we decide to do every day, even when we are not receiving love in return. This is exactly the kind of love God shows us. This is exactly the kind of love Jesus showed when he was brutally crucified on a cross. He loves us unconditionally even when we’re rejecting Him, even when we are not loving Him in return.

This is the love we are to strive for every single day in our marriages. It is one of our purposes for being created and therefore gives us purpose each day. When we see it as our purpose, we become more intentional about fulfilling that purpose. It’s not always going to be easy. But if we use the ultimate model of love, Christ and the church, as our guide, and strive every day to love our spouses like Christ loved the church, our marriages will be the kind of marriages that God intended…the kind that lead other people to Christ.

By Melinda Harrub