Sarah and I just recently celebrated our 12th anniversary, and it turns out that we are still in love. Why? It’s not because we’re built to last, but because we’re building to last.
I don’t believe in a fairytale happily ever after in life. I don’t believe in the one or soul mates or whatever you would call it. I think those notions do a disservice to the commitment and work it takes to make a marriage last, and they also provide an escape clause later on when things aren’t always happy or the spark has disappeared or whatever. They say marriage is work. Who are they? I don’t know, but they exist, and they say this. And while I know this is true, it doesn’t feel like work. Ever had a job that you loved so much it didn’t feel so much like work, but more like getting paid to do what you love to do? I have. I have it right now. And if my marriage is also work, then it also doesn’t feel like it for a few reasons. First, I love my wife, and she knows it, and she loves me, and I know it. Second, we’ve been working all along. We do consistent marital maintenance, never letting the projects get too big to be fixed. And third, I believe we love each other in the way the Bible instructs us to love each other.
And I want to tell you briefly what I think that looks like from a husband’s perspective, because I am a husband. Ephesians 5 is a much abused and therefore much maligned portion of Scripture, because it uses that old dirty word: submission. But submission in a Biblical sense isn’t actually a bad thing, because God wrote about and defined it. I think where things get off track is the focus on and misinterpreting the woman’s responsibility while overlooking the man’s, which is especially odd considering the man’s responsibility is primary and the woman’s responsive to that. Wait, that sounds sexist! Not really. I’m putting the burden on men and giving women a break that they deserve. So what do I mean? Well, why do we love God? Because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And in Ephesians 5, the wife is supposed to love the husband like we love God, and the man is supposed to love the wife like God loves His church. Why should a wife love her husband? Because he loves her first.
And what does that love look like? Well, how did Jesus love His church? He gave up everything, He became a servant, He put the needs of the church over His rights and position. He loved His church so much that He was willing to die for her while simultaneously living for her benefit. That’s how a Godly husband ought to love his wife. He should put her first – her wants, her needs, her emotions – and he should serve her, give up what it takes to meet her needs, and not just be willing to die for her, but also be willing to live in such a way that would benefit her. And when you treat your wife that way, do you know what happens? She tends to love you back. She also trusts you. And because she knows that the one thing you want more than anything is her well-being, she’s willing to go to the end of the world with you and for you. And because it’s true, you don’t abuse that.
I could go on, but only a few of you are still reading this. I think you get the gist of it. Love your wife. Love your husband. Put yourself aside for them. You just might live happily ever after, because happily will ever come after love and work.