Just as Christ loved the church...

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." - Ephesians 5:25

Today I was thinking about the union between man and wife and the responsibilities that God gave to each one. I was thinking about my duty as a submissive wife who honors and respects her husband and how many times I fail miserably, to do that to the fullest. But I also began to think about Ephesians 5:25 that says "husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." what exactly does this scripture mean? The words 'respect' and 'submit' seem to be easily understood, but to love as Christ loved the church, well, how does that look? Upon researching how this can be done, I came across an amazing post on the blog of a Christian man, and I loved what he had to say. Here is his post, I hope that it helps every reader enrich your marriage and give yourself wholeheartedly to the will of God.

1. Consider her needs above your own. This is a hard one. We all want to be selfish and think our needs are more important or else we wouldn't have them. This is not true. Her needs are just as important as mine, but I don't always see it that way. This is where I must lower "self" and raise up my wife. You will find that meeting your wife's needs above your own will be a key component to happiness. Once you start being selfless, you will reap the benefits of a wife who truly wants to meet your needs in return. It is like a cyclical reward system in which you both benefit. You would do well to implement this no matter how hard it gets or how much you feel you are getting the shaft. I think we all have a tendency to think that we are doing what we should to meet the other's needs and they are not holding up to their end of the deal. I bet though if you were to ask your wife, she would say the same thing but with you being the culprit. Key point: Always consider her needs above those of your own.

2. Listen. Christ tells us to pray at all times about all things. In the same way, women have a need to tell us things. They want us to listen and to hear them. To feel what they feel. To experience their day with them (We would do well to pray in such a manner as that). She will want to come home and tell you a 50 minute summary of her day... you could do with a 2 minute version. Listen. Care. Interact. This will mean more to her than almost anything else you could do. *Important: She does not always want you to fix the issue. Men tend to want to fix things while women don't always want a "fix". They just want someone to listen. Make sure you feel her out and know if she is asking for help or just a listening ear.

3. Help with chores (without being asked). What is more, do some of her chores. This will play back into meeting her needs. If you take out the trash, mow the yard, do the dishes, make the bed, etc. for your wife's benefit (because we all know this is not something high on men's priority list) this will go a long way in her appreciation of you as her husband. You will also be fulfilling a need that she has- to be appreciated. If she has to remind you to pick up your socks daily and to rinse your plate and place it in the dishwasher instead of leaving it to dry in the sink, you will quickly find that she will build up bitterness towards you. Not that she is trying to or even conscience of it. It will make her think that you do not care enough to do these simple things that make her life and ministry to you simpler. The main point: Do whatever it takes to make her ministry to you and home upkeep easier. In the end, she will cherish you.

4. Be the head. Do not abdicate your authority. If she comes to you asking for your opinion or leadership, give it. Do not say, "I don't care" or "You decide". You are held responsible for the relationship and will have to give an account to God for how you led in the marriage. Take this very seriously. Your wife should be very comfortable coming to you for guidance and assuming you will make the decisions that need to be made. She should trust that you have gone to God, before the elders, before the church even to make your decision(s) if it warrants such a progression. You should also not neglect to include your wife's thoughts and opinions in your decision. You do have the final say though and if you are doing the other things well, your wife should have no problem submitting to your authority in this. Remember: if you cannot do it in faith, you do it in sin. So, the only times that your wife should have a problem submitting to your decisions, are when they go against the word of God or her conscience. In the end, make sure that your decisions are what is best for your marriage and your family, not for yourself.

After reading these four things, I decided to research ways that women can show their husbands how much they love them, as well. Here is the best advice I found.

* 4 Ways to Show Your Husband How Much You Love Him *

1. Respect Him. The most effective way to make a man feel unloved is to disrespect him, especially in front of others. If you have any desire at all to take good care of your husband, and make him feel loved, do not ridicule him, overrule him, or dismiss him in front of someone else. It's bad enough to do it in private, but in public you might as well slap his face.

2. Drop Everything. This is a little thing that has major effects. One of the most effective ways of showing someone you love them is to make them top priority, to the point where you stop everything you're doing, whatever it is, to focus on them. That is, you step away from the computer, let the baby play by herself, turn off the TV, stop cooking dinner, whatever it is you're doing, and go to that person and specifically show them that they are your central focus RIGHT THEN. This is particularly effective when you first see them after a separation (ie when you or they get home from work, etc.).

3. Notice His Strengths. This is similar to admiring him, but specific to his strengths. That is, if it's hard for you to get the lid off the jar, and you know he can, go ask him, telling him something like "I'm not strong enough to open this. Can you do it for me?". If his strength is math, ask him to calculate the price per ounce of something (or a similar feat of arithmetic), telling him it's too hard for you. Don't lie in this... he'll know. Just make a point of asking him to help anywhere that you know is a strength of his that complements a weakness of yours. As noted, this can be physical or mental... "Can you move this for me, I can't do it?" or "Can you help me figure out how to word this?".

4. Forgive His Weaknesses. Your husband has his weaknesses. All men do, and all women, too, for that matter. Do NOT use his weaknesses against him. If you use them to try to manipulate him, if you bring them up any time it's not absolutely necessary, he will start feeling like you don't respect him in that area. This applies to showing off areas where you are noticeably stronger than him, too, unless it's somewhere he feels he doesn't need to (or can't) compete, which is generally areas that are not considered masculine, or areas where it is widely acknowledged that special talent is required, like singing.

I wanted to share something else with you that I thought was inspiring. While gathering up all of this useful information, I stumpled upon a Blog of a woman who has been married for 20 long years to a man named Mike. Her latest blog was to say happy anniversary to her him and to list 20 blessings of her marriage. I have chosen just some of my favorites to share with all of you:

1) Mike loves me as Christ loves the church...well, please don't think I mean as perfectly as Christ did...we all know that Christ loved the church so much that He gave Himself up for her.(Ephesians 5:25-26) Which is perfect love...but husbands should be working on loving their wives in a self sacrificing way as they mature in Christ and want to obey God. It is a beautiful blessing when your husband shows you that he loves you this way!

2) Mike shows honor to me as the weaker vessel. (1 Peter 3:17) And, I love this! There is nothing that I appreciate more than Mike opening the door for me when we are getting into the car or going in somewhere...carrying the heavy loads of groceries...moving things I would like moved...helping me get up(this will become more important as we age, but I still need help every once in a while--especially when I was pregnant!) God made us as the weaker ones and I love that my husband understands that and showers me like a gentlemen should! My girls have watched my husband be this way over the years, which shows them a lot to look for one day!3) Mike tries to live with me in an understanding way. This goes right along with showing honor because she is the weaker vessel, in fact, they understand their wives by understanding that she is the weaker one. I must say this is not his normal tendency, though. He wants to help *fix* things and gets easily frustrated when he can't. At times he has not been understanding, but impatient with me and frustrated. Early in our marriage that would *hurt my feelings* at times and I would end up sobbing over being scolded and not understood. Over the years, though, God has softened his heart to try and understand me more....and I'm sure from his standpoint, that has been a very complicated process. :0 But, every husband, who is a believer, should put forth his greatest effort to try and know his wife and understand her. (1 Peter 3:7) I appreciate and respect Mike's efforts in this area! It has blessed me very much!

5) He tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. That is very important to me. This is especially true in the area of sinfulness in my own life. He has helped me see my sin so many times...and it has not always been with his words, but sometimes with his actions. I see his example and see my own selfishness.

10) Mike is the head of our home. I love strong leadership...not mean, bossy leadership, but strong, loving servant type leadership that the Bible speaks of. There is nothing more attractive in a man than one who is confident and leads his family to love God and makes sure that his every effort is on serving and leading his family! Just a sidenote, no husband is going to be perfect in any of these areas...mine is not, but to see him working on these things is where he should be as a believer...that is a blessing!

11) I am blessed by a husband who provides for us, so that I am not needed to work outside the home. When he chose his occupation as a 14 year old boy, he knew he wanted a job where he could provide for his family well and be home with them a lot. I think it is so sweet that he was thinking of us even way back then!

15) Mike guides me and our daughters in the area of modesty and biblical womanhood. This is a big blessing to our whole family. I think I know what is modest, but sometimes I am wrong and Mike, as a man, shows great wisdom in this area.

After reading the eight suggestions above and the motivational words by this woman, I believe that all 8 pieces of advice (besides the "being the head" suggestion- that is for the husband) could be useful for both the husband and the wife, and that if they were all done to some degree, at appropriate times, marriages would be closer to glorifying God in the fullest. Ultimately, we are to remember that we have made a promise to our spouse to love and cherish them as long as we both shall live. Marriage is a sacred bond that God has planned from the beginning, therefore, the world will throw anything that it can at a Christian marriage in order to break it down and tear it apart. You have chosen only one person to make this walk through life with, and you are only allowed one walk to show them how very much you love them. How sad it would be to come to the end of your path, turn around to look back, and see the many times you have kept them from feeling love on their journey home.

"Marriage calls us to an entirely new and selfless life, and any situation that calls me to confront my selfishness has enormous spiritual value." - Unknown

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