Mike McKinley posted a few days back at 9Marks on how pastors serve everyone but their wives. That caught my attention. Wow. What a scary and damning reality. It made me think of a helpful article by Biola theologian Rob Lister on husbands leading their wives in regular conversation on the state of their marriage. This is by no means the solution to adultery; however, it could aid husbands in creating a strong “culture” for their marriage. Some husbands just died a quiet death; stick with me.
Here’s Rob’s intro to his piece:
Thanks to Jiffy Lube, most of us know the drill by now: either do it yourself, or take your car in for a regular tune-up and oil change every three months or three thousand miles. Fail to maintain your vehicle in this fashion, and you run the risk of your engine locking up and stranding you on the side of the road somewhere in the middle of rush hour traffic. How odd, then, that many of us would be so committed to the routine maintenance of our vehicles, and yet so often overlook the necessity of giving similar routine attention to our marriages. Clearly, one of the main purposes of marriage is to function as a means of grace in the sanctification of Christian couples. But, in order for marriage to function this way, we must be strategic, pro-active, and intentional. With that in mind, I offer the following as one practical suggestion of something that Christian husbands may wish to consider as a tool to use in a more routine and intentional effort to lead their marriages for the glory of God. In the simplest terms, this “tool” is a manageable list of questions that I have attempted to consolidate over the years for regular use in our marriage.
You should read the whole piece (and the whole JBMW in which it appeared). I received similar advice from pastor Mike Bullmore of Crossway Community Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Dr. Bullmore is a much-sought-after pastor who nonetheless has a strong marriage. I sought to pick his brain a bit (because I hope to emulate him as one who serves his family first) and he recommended this:
- weekly conversations with my wife to talk through our schedules and the health of our marriage and spiritual lives. I am grateful that he did, as it helped this young and sinful husband-leader (the terms are synonymous) to begin to lead his wife in God-honoring ways.
As you can imagine, it’s easier to do this some weeks than others. This has been, however, a catalyst for growth and holiness. Praise God for this excellent advice. If as men we’re married, then our discipleship under Christ takes a marital shape, meaning that so many of the spiritual challenges before us relate to the way we treat and care for our wives (same goes for women). Our marriages are conducted not in a neutral zone, after all, but in a spiritual battlefield. It is not too much to say that they hang between heaven and hell, and Satan goes after every covenant on a daily, even hourly basis.
Chiming in on Mike’s post, I am guessing that one of the greatest influencers for the dissolution of marriages is the simple and inexcusable failure of many husbands to care for their marriages by planning and talking about weekly schedules (which hugely helps a wife in my limited experience), inviting conversation on existing sins and weaknesses, and taking time to encourage and strengthen their wives. A weekly hourlong conversation–scary as this sounds to some less talkative men–might significantly help to alleviate the clouds of tension that can plague many marriages; a biannual getaway, with a chunk of time for fun, talking and relaxation, could only continue to bring health and vitality to marriages devoted to the glory of God and lived out in the laziness-killing, passivity-imploding, narcissism-destroying power of Jesus Christ.
(I posted this first over at 9Marks.)