Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).
As I travel around the country, I am appalled at the number of men who are walking away from their marriages and calling it quits. Granted, many of their wives have worked hard to make life miserable for these men.
If a man approaches his responsibility to marriage as Christ did toward the church, then the man will be committed until death. He will submit to the responsibility for maintaining a wholesome relationship with his wife.
There may be a period of time—perhaps years—when he has no choice but to stand by a totally rebellious, obnoxious, rejecting, or immoral woman, whose behavior is not worthy of his loyalty. His self-respect will remain intact if he retains the will to make it work, even though all his efforts are rejected.
Conversely, the behavior of many husbands can be totally obnoxious, mean, self-centered, even immoral. They may make no effort to be responsible husbands. They may totally reject any responsibility for the marriage. Yet, the will to stay committed will sustain a woman’s self-respect.
… you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior (1 Peter 3:1-2).
The key in either case depends on a higher commitment:
… in the fear of Christ
… as to the Lord
… as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.
Sexual response dies when there are deadlocks and ill will between the partners. Accordingly, when you do not respond to each other, look elsewhere for the reason.
There is a specific directive in the Bible to guide you in managing your physical relations:
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourself to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:4-5).
Clearly, your partner’s wish is your commandment. Obviously, the spirit here is one of mutual concern for each other.
To deprive your partner is to chip away at your self-respect. To cooperate with your partner is to build your self-respect.
Marriage, like no other human relationship, will keep you up to date on the condition of your inner life. It is a personal decision, unrelated to marriage, whether or not you repent of a negative inner life, and allow God to flood your soul with His Spirit.
You build your own self-respect or self-love as you remain loyal, cooperative, submissive, and committed unto death to do all in your power to make the marriage work.
The key to maintaining such a spirit depends on a higher commitment:
As unto the lord!
1. If you are married, who will make you more aware of your inner life than anyone else? Why is this?
2. The will to ________________ is an important key to building self-respect. ____________________ between partners will have the opposite effect.
3. Cooperation implies that both husband and wife make the decision to ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________.
4. What is the way to settle a deadlock if you are committed to resolve the divisions between you and your spouse?
5. If a man approaches his responsibility to marriage as Christ did toward the church, then how long will the man be committed?
6. What is the key to maintaining spirit of cooperation in marriage?
NOTE: The material in this lesson is based on the book, I want My Marriage to Be Better (Zondervan), by the same authors.
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Continue on to Lesson 11.