The Bible has a lot to say about how we treat our wives. It says we should love them as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25), that we should live with them in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7), that we should not be harsh with them (Colossians 3:19), and I could go on. and. on.
It also gives a warning for those you fail to treat their wives well, that their prayers may be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
So the question becomes, how are we as Christian men treating our wives?
Unfortunately, in my experiences, the answer to this question is probably “not very well.”
I must admit that I didn’t treat my wife as well as I should have in the first ten years or so of our marriage. And I definitely reaped what I sowed. By the grace of God, our marriage is now improving dramatically after seventeen years, but the first ten were definitely less than ideal.
I’ve seen this pattern in other Christian marriages as well, even among men who hold leadership positions in the church. It. is. sad.
Why do we treat our wives this way?
Well, for me, I didn’t intentionally set out to make my wife’s life a living hell – it just kinda happened that way. I was selfish, didn’t really have any social skills or life skills, and carried addictions and many other hurts and hangups into our marriage. Not to mention the fact that our personalities and ways of “doing life” didn’t sync up. We were total opposites.
As a result, arguing and fighting came natural for us. I was immature and wanted things my way.
What did I learn from this and how did I start treating my wife better?
I started to learn that the little things didn’t really matter that much… the color we painted the wall, whether we ate Italian or Chinese food, etc, etc, etc. If it wasn’t something that I had convictions about and was really important to me, then I let her have it her way. It just wasn’t worth arguing about. Our unity was the important thing.
I learned that my words were important. I learned that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21) is a true statement. I am not the best with words anyway, and when I tired, it’s even worse. So, if I need to have an important conversation with Joanne, it’s better to wait until I’m well rested so that I will be more careful in choosing my words. With that said, even when I’m exhausted I need to be more careful when choosing my words. Because they have the power to give life, uplift, and encourage, or the power to bring death, destruction, and discouragement.
In addition, I became knowledgeable of the fact that the Bible was true once again… shocker I know: “There is a time for everything… a time to be silent and a time to speak…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).
Sometimes my wife just wanted to be heard. She didn’t want me to fix her problem or give her advice. She just wanted me to listen and try to be understanding. Especially after a long day at work or when she had just come in the door, she just wanted to vent. Sometimes, that’s all any of us really need, a listening and understanding ear. Someone to share our lives with, who won’t judge us or condemn us, but someone just to affirm that are we are important, that we matter and our lives matter, because we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of Christ.
What about you? What have you learned that has helped you to treat your spouse better?
Gary Lee Millner