Biblical marriage is a sacred covenant, not just between a husband and wife, but between a husband, wife and God. So each spouse is affected by the spiritual growth and intimacy of each other in Jesus Christ. The best marriages are where husband and wife spend quality time together in God’s Word and in prayer, asking God to help us be the best spouses we can be.
My favorite prayer is reading Psalm 139:23-24, asking God to search my heart and mind, revealing to me just what He sees in me. In what ways Lord am I failing to be the best husband I can be?
When a husband and wife pray in humility, asking God to show us how we can better love one another, amazing things happen. When I ask God to fix any wrong thoughts or behaviors I have, instead of asking Him to fix my wife, He is faithful to point out ways I can be a better husband. The closer each of us gets to God the closer we grow in marriage.
In Ephesians Chapter 5 Paul gives us God’s perfect guidelines for a happy marriage: Wives submitting to their husbands as the church submits to Christ, and husbands loving their wives as Christ loves His Church. A simple, but not easy formula, to follow for a happy marriage.
Note that Paul does not put conditions on what he writes. Husbands do not only love their wives when they submit, nor do wives only submit once their husbands love them flawlessly. But too often our love and submission are “conditional” instead of reflecting the agape love God expects of us.
Men, we have been ordained as the spiritual leaders of our families, so it starts with us. Seek God to find out how you can love your wife in a deeper way and trust that God will move her heart to submit to your leadership. Love her even when she might not be lovable, and trust in God. Wives learn to submit to your husband and trust that God will correct him when he falters.
Effective communication is a foundation of any healthy relationship, particularly great marriages. But let’s face it, most men struggle to open up and communicate on a level our wives wish we would. Men are afraid to take emotional risks because society has taught us that doing so is a sign of weakness. But our wives want us to open up and share our fears and hopes.
So wives how can you encourage your husband to open up and communicate his deepest thoughts, hopes and fears with you? Start off by telling him you want to know what he is thinking and feeling—and that you promise you will not judge or minimize anything he shares. Let him know his thoughts and heart are safe with you as his wife.
And no matter what he shares, do not judge or minimize it and ask him good questions to help him explain what he is feeling about anything. Learn to become your husband’s trusted confidant and watch him open up, and your emotional and spiritual intimacy grow stronger.
Effective communication is essential to strong healthy relationships—particularly marriage. The busyness of life has us chasing our tails with social media, sports and entertainment so much that we forget the beauty of just sitting down and talking face to face, learning and sharing with one another.
Marriages tend to drift apart when we don’t take the time to just sit down and share our thoughts, hopes and fears with one another. Over time we begin to feel isolated and alone. But talking and sharing with your spouse in a safe environment brings us together as one—and there is nothing more powerful and reassuring than talking with each other about the Word of God. Pick out a subject in question together and explore what God says about it—and watch your intimacy as spouses grow and grow.
“What’s that supposed to mean!!? We have all been in situations where we are talking about an issue important to us and the other party “hears” something we did not intend or mean. Suspicion grows as the other person assumes we meant something critical or harmful about them when that is not what we intended at all.
A great way to avoid this problem is by learning to ask great questions of one another instead of making statements in the middle of an important discussion. When we ask a sincere question we seek to learn something or have a greater understanding of what the person is expressing. But when we make statements, telling the other person what they really think or believe, well nothing good comes out of that.
Jesus often taught by asking questions—and it is a model we should also adapt when we are working through conflict.
One of the things we discuss with couples is how they process information to reach a decision: What we call internal or external processing. The internal processor thinks things through before speaking; while external processors need to speak things out loud to help them reach conclusions. The internal processor can see the external person as scattered in thought; while the external processor can see the internal person as guarded and unwilling to share.
When one spouse processes internally and the other processes externally it can lead to misunderstandings and arguments. But when we recognize and appreciate how each other reaches conclusions we can help one another to process our thoughts and reach profitable decisions that honor God and our marriages. God made each of us uniquely and the more we learn about one another, the greater our friendship and intimacy as a couple.
Do you find yourself at times overwhelmed with the busyness of life? After work, commuting, eating and sleeping, we have precious few hours each day to spend our time. Television or social media can eat into that time and we find ourselves feeling isolated from those we should be closest to—and we start to drift apart spiritually, emotionally and physically.
But committing to just taking thirty minutes a day to sit down and talk as a couple brings great rewards! And spending that precious time talking about things in God’s Word is a wonderful way to grow closer to God and each other. Try it and see how God honors your marriage when you invest in each other and seek Him together as a couple. Put down the smart phone or TV remote and spend a little quality time together—and watch your marriage grow! It works wonders!
“Love Language” tests are very popular these days. A couple identifies which of these five “languages” really speaks to them:
• Quality Time
• Words of Affirmation
• Physical Touch
• Acts of Service
• Receiving Gifts
When I meet with a man and ask him which language speaks to him I almost always hear “physical touch”, but when he really opens up and shares his thoughts we almost always find that Affirmation is what really speaks to his heart. Christian men really do want to do the right thing, but society and culture, led by our spiritual enemy Satan, are trying to confuse and discourage men from being biblical leaders of our families. A loving wife’s affirmation means a lot to her husband.
Wives take time to positively affirm your husband every day—even when he makes mistakes.
Leadership is difficult—and almost impossible if a leader does not have the trust and support of those he leads.
Effective leadership is difficult. It is impossible when the leader is not following someone wiser and more experienced than them. Christian men have been ordained by God as leaders of our families and in our churches. But the Christian leader must seek to follow Jesus Christ, obeying all He has taught us. Only when we are committed to following Jesus can we be prepared to lead others.
One important principle to remember as a leader is this: the one we follow (Jesus) is perfect; I am not. You will make mistakes in leadership and must be humble enough to accept suggestions or criticisms when they are warranted. Look for ways to engage the people you lead, asking them how you can be a more effective leader.
This is vitally important for men as husbands. Have you asked your wife how you can lead and love her better? Do you seek her counsel on important decisions? Does she know you value her thoughts and that you take any concerns she might have seriously?
True leaders always act of humility, not pride. We understand we are flawed and will make poor decisions at times. But we are committed to learning from our mistakes and doing better the next time. Don’t look at your leadership mistakes as failures; look at them for opportunities to grow and improve. And have people in your life willing to be truthful even if what they tell you stings at first.
Leadership Summits are a big deal these days. Thousands of people pay top dollar to listen to “leaders”, hoping to glean some wisdom or a “silver bullet” that will make them successful leaders. But the truth is there is no “silver bullet” that will make you a great leader. Great leaders have a couple things in common:
• They are bold but thoughtful, carefully weighing situations and opportunities.
• They make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.
• They surround themselves with people who will respectfully challenge their thought process, not just “Yes Men”.
• They follow someone greater than them and learn from them.
A true leader also realizes his own shortcomings and areas where he needs the help of others. He is always willing to learn and uses contrastive thought to consider he could be wrong about things.
As Christian men, who do we look to as “successful” leaders? One large church brought Bill Clinton in as its featured speaker at a leadership summit only months after he lied under oath about having sex with an intern in the White House. Is this really what passes for Christian leadership these days?
Jesus Christ is the example we look to for a great leader. And he has given us His Word to give us important definitions and principles for truly great leadership. Once we learn to follow Jesus closely we will learn how to effectively lead others. Don’t be seduced by worldly leaders whose definition of success contradicts God’s Word. Learn to closely follow the One who will lead you to eternal joy and peace—and teach you what true leadership is really all about.