Do you love your spouse?

With June being the month of weddings, this post gives a list of the practical aspects of what love should look like between a husband and a wife.

by Andy Naselli – Here are some excerpts from chapter 12 of Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010). (Andy Naselli: I added the three headings and the numbering. Everything else quotes Tripp.)

1. What is love?
Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

2. What does love look like in marriage?
1. Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
2. Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
3. Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
4. Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
5. Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
6. Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
7. Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
8. Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
9. Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
10. Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a couple, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
11. Love is always being willing to ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
12. Love is recognizing the high value of trust in a marriage and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
13. Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack your spouse’s character or assault his or her intelligence.
14. Love is being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt your spouse into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
15. Love is being unwilling to ask your spouse to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
16. Love is the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a husband or a wife.
17. Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your marriage.
18. Love is staying faithful to your commitment to treat your spouse with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when he or she doesn’t seem to deserve it or is unwilling to reciprocate.
19. Love is the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of your marriage without asking anything in return or using your sacrifices to place your spouse in your debt.
20. Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your marriage, hurt your husband or wife, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
21. Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
22. Love is daily admitting to yourself, your spouse, and God that you are not able to love this way without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.
23. Love is a specific commitment of the heart to a specific person that causes you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle of care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices that have that person’s good in view.

3. What should this description of love do to us?
This realization should give you pause and then spur you to action: it is impossible for any of us to love as has been described. The bar is simply too high. The requirements are simply too great. None of us has what it takes to reach this standard. This description of love in action has left me humbled and grieved. It has faced me once again with my tendency to name as love things that are not love. It has forced me to admit how self-focused and self-absorbed I actually am. It has reminded me that when it comes to love, I am not an expert. No, I am poor, weak, and needy.
Jesus died not only so that we would have forgiveness for not loving as we should, but also so that we would have the desire, wisdom, and power to love as we should.
Jesus suffered in love so that in your struggle to love you would never, ever be alone. As you give yourself to love, he showers you with his love, so that you would never be without what you need to love.

Source – The Gospel Coalition

Darrin Patrick – Marriage: Loving Your Wife and Your Mission

darrin patrickDarrin Patrick talks about marriage, from what he calls the clearest message on marriage in the Bible: Ephesians 5:18-33.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wivesas their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Husbands are accountable as the heads. Yet, they must love, just like Jesus loved the church.

What does it mean to ‘Act like Jesus?’

  • forgive first
  • sacrifice most
  • serve, instead of wanting to be served
  • take responsibility for things that aren’t your fault

Husbands take responsibility for their wives spiritual health:

  • Protection. You are her protector and if you don’t protect her, she will have no choice but to protect herself. And self protection is a form of pride.
  • Cultivation. You look at her future glory, how she’s going to be for Jesus. And while you meditate on that, you will have motivation to help her with her practical struggles. One day, she will be perfectly and utterly confident before God. She will know why she is made. Picture that, and let it motivate you to help her with the hard spots in her life, and the hard truths that she is having difficulty with. If you’re doing this, how do you know? Because your wife is loving Jesus more because of you. The tragedy is that most wives have to grow, not because of their husbands, but, in spite of their husbands. 
  • Nourish/Cherish – to feed, to train, to teach. But, you also cherish her (verses 28-29). The word cherish means- you’re creating an environment. The idea is it’s ‘warmth’. The idea is: Husbands, teach your wife Scripture, have spiritual conversations where you help her understand who God is, who she is, what her mission is in the world. You do all that, in an environment that you have created, of safety and warmth.”Nourish and cherish”.

couple hold hands

 

This is what it means to take spiritual responsibility of your wife. And, here’s the thing. If you don’t cherish her this way, she will find her own cherishing. Listen, your wife was made to be cherished. She cannot, not want that. And maybe. some hyper fenimism has tried to beat it out of her. Maybe her mom said, „Don’t ever trust a man.” Maybe this book said: Don’t ever give yourself fully. It doesn’t matter what she does. That’s who she is, and that’s what she wants: To be cherished. And you are God’s ordained man to do that. If you don’t, she will find ways to cherish herself. So, she’ll eat and look for comfort. Or find someone else to cherish her. They’re gonna talk to their moms, all the time, because they’re lonely. And some of your have great mothers in law so I am not criticizing that. Some will hide in their career, or the gym. Men, she’s made to be cherished, and you are her chief cherisher. We say this many times: You don’t love your wife to make her lovely, you love her to make her lovely. She’s lovely, but you’re gonna make her more lovely, as you love her. But, that requires confrontation.

  • Confrontation – Ever had an infection in your body? It’s painful, it’s awkward. Husbands and wives confront each other. They clean out their wounds. They scrape out the infection.And husbands, you take the lead in this cleaning. If you don’t take the lead, she’s not going to feels safe to clean your wounds. If you’re not in constant scraping, in constant prayer, constant loving confrontation, your marriage is sub christian. 

Biblical Headship

~~Husbands lead by making more of the Gospel, than of their marriage. (verse 29). You can get the Gospel without marriage. But, I don’t know that you can get the marriage without the Gospel. I know there are people who have decent marriages, that are not believers, but the more you understand the Gospel, the more you will lovingly lead. The purpose of marriage is to reenact what Jesus has done, and is doing. That’s the purpose of marriage. It’s reenacting the Gospel.

The Gospel is the focus, But, it’s also a pattern. Husbands, as you lead, you are putting on display the kind of leadership that Christ exercises over His church. Wives, as you submit to your husbands’ leadership, you are putting on display the type of surrendered trust that Christ wants in response to His love for the church.

So people ought to be able to look at our marriages and say, „Look, there’s the Gospel.” And so, as you get closer together, what happens in Gospel reenactment? You are confronted with your sin and you are confronted with the acceptance of your own righteousness, apart from your work. So what happens in your marriage? Same thing. Nobody knows your sins more than your spouse. You hid them from your room mates, your parents, but, there’s dirt underneath your dirt, that only your spouse sees. They know when you’re lying. They know everything.

And what happens is, if you are able to see your sin against God, the way God sees it- this is what put Jesus on the cross, this deserves the wrath of God, this is what separates me from God… If that is there, before you, if the Gospel is ever before you, you’ll be able to forgive your husband. If you believe that „I’m accepted for what Jesus has done. It’s not about my history, it’s not about how good my sermon is. I’m loved because I’m loved. I’m a son before I am a soldier. If that is real to you, you’re not gonna demand that your wife compliment you 15 times in the car. You have to make much of the Gospel. Marriage brings you into conflict. Not just with your spouse, or yourself, but, with God. Are you going to be under control of the Spirit? Or, are you going to repeat the patterns of previous generations and the way men dealt with their wives?

Published on Nov 14, 2012 thejourneystl 

From the November 2012 A29 bootcamp at The Journey, in St. Louis, Mo.

An Essential Talk by Bruce Ware on Manhood

The following was posted at the blog of The Gospel Coalition (04/20/2010):

Theologian Bruce Ware just gave a noteworthy talk on godly manhood at his church, Clifton Baptist Church of Louisville, Kentucky.  The talk was entitled “Select Principles on Being a Biblically Faithful Man and Husband”.  I heard the talk and commend the audio to you.  The following is the handout given out at the talk.  The handout alone is one of the most helpful documents I’ve seen on what godly manhood looks like.

1. Love.   1) Loving God increasingly w/ all my heart, soul, mind and strength; loving Christ and the cross; loving the gospel — these are the foundation for all else.  Drawing from God all I need to be the man and husband God has called me to be is my strength and hope.  2) Loving my wife as Christ loves the Church — this is the umbrella principle for marriage; everything else flows from this responsibility and privilege (Eph 5:25ff).

2. Leadership.   Biblical manhood involves cultivating, embracing, and exercising leadership initiative, especially spiritual leadership initiative.  This is a principle that applies to young men and adult single men just as well as to married men.  Cultivate, embrace, and exercise spiritual leadership initiative.   In marriage, my love for my wife involves and requires that I exert leadership in our relationship.  My headship of my wife means I’m responsible for her spiritual growth and well-being.  And as a father, I’m responsible in ways that my wife is not for the spiritual development of our children (Eph 6:1-4).  And again, to do this, I must be seeking God and growing personally.  Only out of the storehouse of my own soul’s growth in God can I assist my wife to grow spiritually.

3. Example.  Lead by example as much as by admonition and instruction.  Set the example in:  consistent times in the Word and prayer;  in sacrificial service for your wife, children, church family members, and community needs;  in giving faithfully, generously, and regularly of your finances;  in humble admission of wrong-doing along with confession, asking forgiveness, and repentance.  Fight pride, fight defensiveness, fight carnality before others.

4. Authority.  All three points above imply and invoke the concept of male-headship.  Yes, God has given special authority to husbands and fathers.  Learn, though, the correct expression of healthy, constructive, upbuilding, God-honoring, Christ-following authority.  Resist and reject the sinful extremes of 1) harshness, bossiness, mean-spirited authoritarianism, and of 2) laziness, apathy, lethargy, negligence, and abdication of authority to the women in our lives.  Learn to blend firmness with gentleness, truth with grace, a firm hand with a warm smile.

5. Acceptance.   Each of us is unique as God has made us.  We should accept others’ differences w/o thinking ourselves to be either superior or inferior to others.  In marriage, my wife is unique, and so in many ways, she is not like me.  I need to accept who she is, prayerfully and sensitively seeking to assist her in changing what is sinful and needs to be changed, and accepting what is “just different.”

6. Listening.   One of my wife’s biggest and most real needs is my attentive and respectful listening ear.  She loves to share her experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings, concerns, hurts, joys, etc.   I can minister to my wife more than one might think by offering her caring, responsive, and respectful listening and interaction.  Learn to listen sympathetically w/o rushing to “fix it” solutions.  Connect first heart to heart, then later heart to head.  Establish regular times of mutual sharing (yes, mutual), keep short accounts, and act on what you hear and learn.

7. Understanding.   I need to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7), to learn her needs, her sensitivities.  I should seek to know the desires and felt needs of my wife and, when appropriate and possible, fulfill these.  I need to discover her “language of love” and make every effort to love her in ways she feels loved.

8. Work.   A man’s main sense of identity, responsibility, and purpose is found in his work.  Wives want to take pride in their husbands, and taking pride in their work is an important part of this.  Women are not meant to bear the financial weight of a marriage or family, so husbands must work hard and responsibly.  As important as work is to a man’s identity and fulfillment, we must not allow work to overshadow our commitment to and time with our wives first, and also to our children.  Work hard, work well, work to the honor of Christ, and then put work to rest.

9. Sexuality.   My wife is my only legitimate sexual experience, and I am hers.  So, learning to love sexually with increasing skill and pleasure is vitally important to the satisfaction and intimacy of our marriage.  See human sexuality for what it is — the good gift of God to be experienced in marriage, as God has designed.

10. Home.   She cares much about our home.   The “honey-do” list is far more important to her than she is likely to let on.  In love for her, I must pay attention to her requests and treat them as important.  But more important even than this is cultivating the “culture” and “ethos” of our home.  Develop an atmosphere of appreciation, respect, kindness, service, holiness, happiness, gratefulness, contentment, forgiveness — all as expressions of our love for God and one another.

My only other word on the talk would be that in the case of Dr. Ware, these words are backed up by a faithful life.  It’s one thing to hear people talk about manhood directed to the glory of God; it’s another to live it.  Dr. Ware excels at husbanding, fathering, leading, and teaching.  He has much to teach you and me, and I hope that these resources bless you and contribute to the revival of robust biblical manhood in our day.

Family Series 6 – How to pray and intercede for your wife, husband – 2 books in pdf format

Author: Andrew Case. (source)

Water of the Word

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. ~Ephesians 5:25-26

Let Us Imitate Christ as He Prays for His Bride “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom 8:34).
“He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).
Jesus Christ prays for us. He prays for His Bride. He sets the glorious example of the husband who never tires in making intercession for her. It is a breathless wonder, a staggering and stupefying truth. Are you a husband like Jesus? Do you want to be?

Every earthly marriage has been ordained to point to the perfect union in the age to come—to reflect, albeit dimly, the intimacy and ecstasy of knowing our Saviour face to face. And if we are to be obedient to the command, “Love your wives as Christ loved the church” (Eph 5:25) we must not only show a cruciform, sacrificial love, but must also follow Christ’s precedent of continual intercession for our wives, pleading constantly for their sanctification (Eph 5:26). When we pray like this we imitate Jesus’ beautiful example of praying for His Bride. Click  icon on the left to read the rest of the book (in pdf format).

Prayers of the excellent wife

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. ~Proverbs 31:12

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And He made everything in the heavens and on the earth. And God saw that it was good. All of it. Except one thing: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone’” (Gen 2:18). This staggering declaration has never stopped resounding throughout history as man senses again and again his keen need of a “helper fit for him.” And she is indeed fit for him, having been built from his own body to build him up.
The primeval story of her creation is nearly too good to be true. As Martin Luther comments, “Perhaps no one would believe the account of how Eve was created, were it not clearly taught in Scripture.”  The account reads as follows:Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Gen 2:19-25)

There is a beautiful, purposeful meaning to be seen in how God brings her into being. The story has a “poetic flavor” that leads to the outburst of poetry from the man. In an attempt to bring out some of this meaning and flavor, Matthew Henry comments that the woman was “not made out of [the man’s] head to top him, not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

Under divinely induced sleep,a rib is taken out of the man. This should not be seen merely as a surgical operation, but as a brilliant depiction of the relationship between a man and his wife. She is intricately woven out of his very substance, one flesh with him, ontologically bound to him as the helper who stands always at his side. Calvin observes that something was taken from the man in order that he might embrace, with greater benevolence, a part of himself. He lost, therefore, one of his ribs; but, instead of it, a far richer reward was granted him, since he obtained a faithful associate of life; for he now saw himself, who had before been imperfect, rendered complete in his wife.

God deliberately did not form her out of the dust from the ground, but instead built her from the man’s living, organized substance. Neither did God create her out of nothing. Thus, among all the living creatures, woman remains entirely unique in her origin and at the same time inextricably linked to the man, deriving her spiritual and material nature from him.

A theology of headship is portrayed beautifully by the depiction of the woman being built from the man. In his letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul references this account to make a point: “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (I Cor 11:8-9). Previously in the same chapter Paul has just said that “the head of a wife is her husband” (I Cor 11:3), to which he now adds primordial support.

The implications of woman’s origin are profound. Her dignity and worth, her necessity, her role in life and marriage,  and her unique beauty have been established by God from the beginning. She was made to be a man’s faithful helper. And there is no greater help she can offer him than her prayers on his behalf to the One who alone can provide perfect, sovereign help. When the psalmist sings, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?” he answers his own question with the words, “My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth.” You are not sufficient succor for him. A stronger Hand must come to his aid.

Blessed is the wife who pleads often for this mighty Hand to keep her husband’s life; who begs for him at the gates of Grace. This is the sort of woman who fears the LORD, feels her own weakness, and finds refuge and righteousness in Jesus Christ. She wants God for her husband. She is to be praised.

Click the icon on the right to read the rest of the book (in pdf form).

Other posts from this series:

 

 

 

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