How a Man Loves His Wife
About the Guest
How do you love your wife as Christ loved the church? James Ford, Robert Lewis, Stu Weber, Jess MacCallum, and Tom and Jeannie Elliff give examples on ways to do that.
Bob: When a couple gets married, they exchange vows. They promise to love and honor and cherish one another. Pastor James Ford says, “Husbands need to make sure they are promise-keepers.”
James: It’s that principle that says: “Listen, you made a vow—‘…in sickness and health, in poverty and wealth, until death do us part’—not until debt do us part,”—so, you know, just that kind of commitment.
Now, are there times when I’m not feeling it? Of course, there are; but yet, love in marriage doesn’t lead you to commitment. Commitment in marriage leads you to love.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. To be a husband who honors God in your marriage, there’s a lot we’ve got to live up to. We’ll hear more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. One of the things we’ve been doing this year in honor of the fact that we’re about to celebrate 25 years of FamilyLife Today being on the air—that comes up here in a few months—we thought it would be fun to go back and pull out some highlights from previous years, and we’ve done it around themes. In fact, last month, we talked about what God’s design is for a wife in marriage. It’s only fair that we turn the tables today and talk about God’s design for husbands in marriage; right?
Dennis: I think we’ll start this broadcast out by just reading what Paul said in the Bible—Ephesians, Chapter 5, verse 25[-28]: “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 the water with the Word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
What an assignment, Bob—that I am called by God / commanded by God to someday think about presenting Barbara without blemish just as Christ will present to Himself the church / the bride of Christ without any blemish or spot or wrinkle. Our assignment, as husbands, is to love the blemishes out of our wives—now, what a noble calling and a privilege that truly is.
Bob: Really, you can boil down a husband’s responsibility to the two words, love and lead. Those are both captured in Ephesians, Chapter 5; aren’t they?
Dennis: They are; but that concept of love—there are actually several different words for love.
In fact, we have a guest that we had on FamilyLife Today, back in 2010. His name is James Ford, and he’s written a book called Seven Reasons Why God Created Marriage.
Bob: James is a pastor on the south-side of Chicago. We talked with him about a husband’s responsibility to love his wife. He said, “We’ve got to understand what the Bible is talking about when it talks about love.”
James: The four words for love—you have agapao or agape. Then, you have phileo; then, storgeo; then, eros. You need all four in marriage. Eros is sensual. Storgeo is spousal. Phileo is social, and agape is spiritual—that’s the highest.
And let me tell you how this fleshes out. Because my wife has been ill for 20 years and I’ve had to do most of the cooking, most of the cleaning, she asked me around year eight or nine—she said:
“Are you tired of this? I know you’re ready to throw in the towel and be done with this.” I said to her—I said, “You know, sometimes, I get tired in it; but I don’t get tired of it.” So, it is that principle that keeps me going. It’s that principle that says, “Listen, you’re not in this relationship to get—you made a vow—‘…in sickness and health, in poverty and wealth, until death do us part’—not until debt do us part,”—so, just that kind of commitment.
Now, are there times, as in the vernacular of the African American community, “I’m not feeling it?” Of course, there are. Are there times when I am tired in it? Of course, there are; but yet, you know, here is what Adrian Rogers says—or used to say all the time—he said, “You know, love in marriage doesn’t lead you to commitment; commitment in marriage leads you to love.”
Bob: That’s right.
James: So, I said, “Listen, I’m committed to you.
“I’m so committed to you that if you ever leave me, I’m going with you.” [Laughter]
So, we got into an argument one time, Bob. She grabs her suitcase and she says: “You know what? I’m leaving. I’m leaving.” So, I grabbed my suitcase and I said: “I’m leaving too. Where are we going?”
Bob: “Where are we going?”
James: That’s it.
Dennis: There you go!
Dennis: I love that imagery. Don’t you, Bob?
Bob: I do too. That’s Pastor James Ford talking about what real love looks like and how a husband loves his wife in a marriage relationship. It reminded me, Dennis, of a conversation we had recently with Ann Voskamp that’s going to be heard on FamilyLife Today coming up; but she talked about walking outside one day and her husband was up on a ladder, cleaning the gutters—do you remember this?
Dennis: I do.
Bob: She said, “What are you doing?” What did he say?
Dennis: He said, “I’m loving you.”
Dennis: And it was a holy moment as she told that story. Then, another moment I thought of from that same interview, Bob—and by the way, you need to make sure you hear this interview with Ann Voskamp—but she had worked really hard during that day; and evidently, he’d been out bringing the crops in.
It was late, late at night; and he came in the house and knelt down in front of her chair and began to massage her feet.
Dennis: Gave her a foot rub.
Dennis: She said, “Everything within me wanted to pull away,”—
Bob: —because he’d been working hard all day.
Dennis: —because he was exhausted. It was eleven o’clock at night. They live up in an area of Canada where the sun—
Bob: —where it’s still bright out.
Dennis: Yes, it’s still light at the time; but I think the assignment of a husband is to love his wife in such a way that he sacrifices his life for her.
I opened the door for Barbara after we got home from church last week. I just thought, as I did that, very simply: “My life for yours.” I didn’t say it out loud; but I thought, “I’ve always liked that concept of what a common courtesy is all about.” It shows up in all kinds of little commitments along the way where you honor the person who said, “I do,” and the person to whom you say, “I still do.”
Bob: We don’t usually do this, but I’m going to see if I can get our team to pull out a little sneak preview clip of our conversation with Ann Voskamp. It’ll be available on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can just listen to a few minutes of that interview, because the interview will be aired later this year; but if you’d like to get a preview, you can do that.
You know, the concept of loving your wife goes beyond sacrifice. It involves connection—it involves emotional intimacy. We aired a message from our friend, Dr. Robert Lewis, back in 2007, where he was talking straight to the men about how they need to make sure that their love is connecting, heart to heart, with their wife.
Robert: A real head is a lover. It’s very simple. Look at verse 25. It says, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ, also, loved the church.”
Now, the comparison is to Christ; and the question we have to ask is: “Well, how did Christ love the church?” The answer is: “He loved the church by connecting with the church where it most needed Him. It needed redemption, and Jesus stepped into that and redeemed His church.”
Now, the husband doesn’t redeem the wife; but at least, it invites this question: “Where does the wife most need the husband to love her?” And I believe it’s a very basic answer—it is this: “She needs to—in the dailyness of marriage, she needs to feel loved.” That’s so basic, but that’s the great connection. She needs to feel, on an ongoing way, a positive, healthy emotional connection of love with her husband. In other words, you’ve got to, as a man, show her your heart.
Practically, that’s going to mean regularly opening up when you come home—talking to her, listening to her, caring about what she’s feeling in life, sharing with her where you’re going, what’s happening around you, understanding her, and moments of intimacy where you just kind of connect, soul to soul. Can I hear an “Amen,” ladies? Is that right? Do you believe that? That’s what you most need. This is what it means to love a woman.
Guys, it’s so easy just to forget that or miss that. Like the guy who took his wife out to dinner—they went out / dinner was served, and he immediately went to eating. There was very little talking or any kind of interaction. They looked next to them, and there was this couple—this younger couple—they were having the same meal, but they were conversing. He was talking in kind of an animated fashion, and she was looking adoringly at him.
Every so often, he would lean over and whisper something in her ear, and she would laugh and all that.
In the midst of that, the first woman at the other table said to her husband: “Look at how he talks to her. Wow! Why don’t you do something like that?” He looks up from his Caesar salad and says, “Honey, I don’t even know the woman.” [Laughter] Now, that’s a guy that doesn’t get it! See, he’s missed the whole point of this text. Loving is connecting at an emotional level where a woman feels loved.
Bob: Again, that’s our friend, Dr. Robert Lewis, talking about the need to love your wife in a way that she feels loved. That involves communication. In fact, you probably remember when our friend, Stu Weber, was here—this was back almost at the very beginning of FamilyLife Today—back in 1993. He had written a book called Tender Warrior.
There was one chapter in that book—do you remember the chapter?
Dennis: I do remember the chapter—it was called “Speaking Woman.”
Bob: “Do You Speak Woman?”—that’s right. It’s the whole idea that men and women often don’t communicate the same way. A husband to love his wife—he’s going to have to understand how she communicates; right? This is Stu Weber.
Stu: We speak different languages because we’re different / we’re oriented differently—men tend to be oriented toward the task / women toward the relationship. In this particular case, the task was to get from Point A to Point B about five times in one day, which meant we had to meet transportation. That’s great. We were seeing the old country—that’s good news. The bad news was it was in the vicinity of the shops of Jerusalem. [Laughter]
Stu: I wanted to conquer that itinerary; Linda wanted to linger in the shops. Conquering and lingering are both legitimate exercises, but they’re not immediately compatible. [Laughter]
Stu: Very much so.
So, I was pushing all day long—and pushing, and pushing, and pushing. It became increasingly uncomfortable; but at last, we finished the itinerary. We were at our place of lodging for the evening. I had forgotten the day—it was long spent. We sat romantically on the shores of Galilee—the Milky Way going over our heads and the water lapping at our feet—it was just one of those romantic moments. Being a man, I didn’t realize that some of these—that romance really begins in the dailyness / the kitchen; you know? I put my arm around her shoulder and I said, “Honey, I really love you.” There was a moment of silence; and she said, “It takes work to love me; you know?” I thought, “Uh-oh!” [Laughter]
Stu: The romantic evening was not developing like I had envisioned. [Laughter]
Dennis: There were some icicles hanging on that statement?
Stu: There were. We had to work our way back through the day. See, a man can be compartmentalized, because he’s task-oriented. A woman is a synthetic person in the sense that she synthesizes—the whole day matters. Everything is an integral part of everything else.
So, my impatience—or my pushing throughout the day—
—spoke in a woman’s language and said: “I don’t care. I don’t know what your needs are. I’m not communicating with you. We’re just going to get this accomplished.” How could I, then, turn around and hypocritically say, “I love you, dear”? That’s what it was—it was not that to me / it was to her—major difference.
Dennis: How do you speak woman, Bob?
Bob: Not fluently. [Laughter]
Dennis: Forty-five years, I’ve been learning the language.
Bob: I watched you listening to Stu, and you were just smiling and kind of nodding your head like—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —“Been there,”—even recently; huh?
Dennis: Yes. When he called a woman, “synthetic,” that’s when I knew he’d messed with words just a little bit. He was talking about how they synthesize everything—they don’t compartmentalize / they bring it into the whole. I can’t tell you how long it took me to begin to learn—I don’t know that I’ve learned this—but I do understand it a whole lot more today, 45 years later.
Bob: This is where husbands need to—
—not only spend time in Ephesians 5—but they need to spend time in 1 Peter 3, as well; because Peter has some very solid advice for husbands about how they’re going to do their job; right?
Dennis: He does: “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way…so that your prayers may not be hindered.” She’s a weaker vessel—it says. So, that means you’ve got to understand that she’s not a man; and I think a part of learning to speak woman, as Stu Weber was talking about there, is—you’re not really married to your buddy. You’re married to a woman—a counterpart—who is different, who—because she is different, doesn’t mean she’s wrong.
Dennis: But you married her because she’s different.
Bob: And you ought to thank God for that; right?
Dennis: Yes; exactly. And learn to speak in a way that honors her, cherishes her, and brings dignity to her.
So, the assignment for every man listening to this broadcast is—as soon as this broadcast is over, call your wife and just say, “Hey, honey, I love you.”
Bob: I was thinking, as I was listening to Stu, we had a guest, Jess MacCallum, who was with us back a few years ago. Jess learned, early on, as a husband, that if he was going to love his wife well, he had to remember that when he got married—well, the plates had shifted, and he needed to reprioritize his life. Listen to how he described this.
Jess: A lot of guys have a group of friends or a certain guy they hang out with a lot. Even while they’re dating, they’re either double-dating; or they’re still kind of sharing time. But once that covenant begins and the marriage life begins, it’s disloyal to make your wife say when enough is enough. You should be the one setting parameters to keep the household under the leadership God assigned to you. You never blame your wife—like: “Guys, look, my wife’s going to be really upset. Can we get…”
Jess: If you hide behind her skirt, it makes you look weak; it undermines your relationship, and those guys are laughing about it. And if they need to be told privately, then say: “Look, this is the new lay of the land. You guys will never even compete with my wife. She will always be first. There’s not even a second place,”—and they need to be told that, perhaps, even individually if they don’t get the message.
Bob: But I think it’s really key, in the midst of this, for your wife not to have the sense that your night out with the guys: “Man! You love that!” / spending time with her: “That’s okay; but you really can’t wait for Friday night when you get to go out with the guys.” That sends a message in marriage that says, “Marriage is okay, but I’m still kind of a single guy.”
Jess: Well, there is a little bit of singleness left in all guys when they’re first married. I mean, you’ve really taken on a whole new dimension.
Dennis: You think?
Jess: Well, I did. I think you guys probably started off much better than I did, but—[Laughter]
Dennis: That’s a dangerous assumption.
Jess: But what we do is—we learn each other that first year, especially. And this is why it takes a little patience and a lot of communication on both sides and come up with a solution that fits both of you.
But yes, you don’t want to communicate competition with your wife on any level—not the guys’ night, not her family / your family, not your job. That’s part of becoming a loyal leader / a protector so that she doesn’t feel like she’s being supplanted or competed with.
Bob: Good wisdom from Jess MacCallum from a past FamilyLife Today program. What he is saying, Dennis, is—part of the way we love our wives is we make sure they know they are set apart / they’re special; right?
Dennis: That’s right. A way you can make your wife feel special is by having a few questions that you ask her all the time that will reveal to you what her real needs are all about.
Bob: In fact, we had Pastor Tom Elliff join us on FamilyLife Today, along with his wife Jeannie. Jeannie, by the way, has since gone to glory / she is at home with Jesus. Not long ago, Tom was remarried.
He’s probably pulled out his book on the 10 Questions Every Husband Should Ask. We’ve only got time to hear one of them, but it’s a great question.
Tom: Number one: “What could I do to cause you to feel more loved?” You think: “Oh, I know what I want! I want you to whisk me away to some romantic hideaway.” I guess I better just go ahead and tell you what she said. She said—
Dennis: No; no. Let’s let her tell us what—
Jeannie: I don’t remember all of them. He remembers it better than I do. [Laughter]
Tom: Well, you know, I had all these romantic visions in my head. She said, “You know, I really would like it, when we’re in public, for you always to pull my chair out for me.” Wow! I thought: “That’s not a romantic hideaway. This is not where we’re headed here. This is something else for me to do!” [Laughter]
Bob: You guys speak different love languages; don’t you?
Tom: Well, you know, that’s the truth. Boy, this was a wake-up call to me. You know, I consider myself a fairly polite person; but we had been in some huge crowds, in recent weeks, surrounding that time.
I’d been pulled away with one group, and she’d be pulled away with another group; you know? And we’d get back together, and we’d be racing off to another meeting. I think I let some of my comportment slip a little bit; and she said, “You know, I want to know that you know I am here in the midst of all these other people. I want to…”—I think this is what she was saying; is that right?
Jeannie: Exactly right.
Tom: “I want you to know that I’m here.”
Bob: Jeannie, you had to feel safe and secure to be able to even—I mean, that doesn’t sound very threatening; but a lot of husbands would hear something like that from their wife, and they’d start to get defensive. They’d start to go: “Well, now, wait…” and they’d back pedal.
Jeannie: Right. I knew, from the beginning of this experience, that we shared there in that restaurant that this was a serious thing to him. He was going to really listen to me. I knew this was not: “Honey, listen to me,” / “Huh?” This was a real occasion that was different.
Bob: Well, it’s fun to listen back to Tom and Jeannie Elliff, from many years ago, as they joined us on FamilyLife Today.
And that’s a great question for a man to ask his wife, but you better be ready for what the answer is; right?
Dennis: That’s right. I mentioned earlier that I opened the door for Barbara. Well, there’s another way to make sure you’re acknowledging her presence; and that is while having dinner with other couples, going out to eat. Sometimes, I can get excited about what we’re doing, here, at FamilyLife. I can start talking to somebody, who is also equally interested in what God’s doing through this ministry. I can kind of bulldoze my way through the evening and not allow Barbara to share what God’s doing in her life.
Bob: Never a part of the conversation; huh?
Dennis: Yes. So, it’s been interesting to grow in that area, as a man. I was about a 0 on a 10-point scale in our first year. I think I’m north of a 5,—
Dennis: —now, at year 45. [Laughter]
Still got a long ways to go, but I really do enjoy hearing her share and having her be a part of the conversation. I don’t—looking back on an evening, I have no delight in taking over the conversation.
Dennis: I want her to be in on it, and that does make her feel loved.
Bob: Some of our listeners may want to see Tom Elliff’s complete list of his ten questions that he asked his wife. We’ve got that on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. In fact, there are links—if you’d like to listen to all of the conversations and messages that we’ve just heard portions of today—go to FamilyLifeToday.com and follow the links. You can hear the original recordings of the interviews and the messages that we’ve featured today.
There’s also information about Dennis’s book, Stepping Up, which is a great book for husbands to read that calls us to be the men God has created us to be. The book I wrote, Christian Husband—we have copies of that in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center and other resources for husbands. You’ll find them, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call with any questions or to order.
Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. So, again, the website—FamilyLifeToday.com—the number to call: 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, you think about the almost 25 years of FamilyLife Today being on the air / the more than 40 years that FamilyLife has existed—our goal has always been, as a ministry, to provide practical help for marriages and families from the Bible. We want to effectively develop godly marriages and families. And the one thing that has been a burden for us is: “How can we reach more people? How can we help more people?”
And really, the key to being able to expand the reach of this ministry is for us to have the funding necessary to do that. We have some friends who want to see the impact of FamilyLife Today grow in the years to come.
This month, they’ve agreed to provide an incentive for FamilyLife Today listeners to be part of the team that accelerates the movement of this ministry. They’ve agreed that they will match every donation we receive during the month of August, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $800,000.
We’re working really hard to get the word out, hoping that many of our FamilyLife Today listeners—those of you who are regular listeners, those of you who have donated in the past, and those of you who have never made a donation—today is a great time for you to go online or to call and donate, knowing that whatever you donate is going to help us reach more people; and your donation is going to be doubled in the process as well. Would you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make an online donation today; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and donate over the phone? If you’d prefer, you can mail your donation to us. Our mailing address is FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223. Again, pray that we’ll be able to take full advantage of this matching-gift opportunity, here, during August.
Now, tomorrow, we are going to continue talking about a husband’s responsibility in marriage. We’re going to shift from talking about loving your wife to talking about God’s call to lead your wife. It’s one of the ways you love her. And in fact, we’re going to talk about what leading your wife shouldn’t look like, because a lot of guys have got that wrong. We’ll talk more about it tomorrow. Hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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