Image Source: Fruit of the Vine by Ian Livesey; CC 2.0
While I have never been a huge fan of the “# of Ways to Do ___” lists, this is one I created about a year ago when my wife and I were going through biblical counseling together. I want to make it abundantly clear that I do not reflect the desires below perfectly – yet nonetheless, it is a reminder for me to look back on and see areas of improvement in how I can better love my wife. My priority is always to start with myself; honoring God in how I act, think, and make decisions should always be my focal point. If I love and obey God, I will carry out the principles outlined in scripture for loving my wife.
Marriage is never easy and requires a tremendous amount of work, especially if we want our marriage to be a reflection of the gospel to a culture that continues to push the boundaries and definitions of love. For me, this list is not a reflection of “checks” I am able to accomplish to have done my part. It is a continual stretching and redefinition of my own character to ensure I am living up the expectations of the Lord in scripture, and learning to love my wife in a manner reflecting her unique, and altogether lovely, personality. I will never do this perfectly; therefore, this list will only continue to grow in length and hopefully produce more disciplined application.
1. Check your motivations in dealing with conflict (i.e. am I coming to confront with the primary agenda of an offense against God rather than myself? Am I coming to correct out of a love for God, and a love for my spouse, rather than a love for myself?).
2. Check your motivations in how you give encouragement (i.e. am I seeking something in return for offering flattery?).
3. Seek opportunities to cultivate and tend to “the garden” of your wife so that she may flourish (i.e. if there are things I am aware of my wife liking – am I setting aside time and money for her to be able to do these things periodically? If I don’t know these things, am I finding out?).
4. Seek opportunities to listen to her without offering advice unless she wants it.
5. Pray with and for your wife.
6. Set time aside to go through scripture/ a book together.
7. Offer heavy praise for that which deserves praise.
8. Be a source of gentleness/comfort to her through your example of meekness.
9. Consistently be in repentance and be quick confess your sins against her.
10. Consistently ask for her prayers in specific areas (i.e. wisdom in how I lead, to be an example of humility, showing meekness, being a strong example of Christ to her and our children, being constantly vigilant and mindful of temptation – and that I would flee from it, etc.).
11. Give her time alone from the kids (if applicable) and yourself so she can meditate on the scriptures, or even simply unwind, without distraction.
12. Give her time to spend with other women who are a source of encouragement and edification to her.
13. Give her ample time to serve the church – and to do so without complaint or letting household chores slip by.
14. Be a man of your word in all that you say you will do.
15. Devote your free time to her, making sure she is doing well emotionally and spiritually by asking more probing questions, and specifically asking how you can better serve in these areas.
16. Remain convinced and convicted of the truthfulness of the scriptures, honoring the Lord in all aspects of the household – starting with yourself.
17. Not returning to past sins, which have been put away.
18. Continually hold a covenant with your eyes to refrain from lust after another woman – and faithfully letting your wife know that she alone is beautiful and precious in your sight.
19. Uphold the fact that we are one flesh, thus, though you are the head – you are to lead in respect to how you will honor God in your decisions, and subsequently, honor your wife.
20. Devote ample time to being able to communicate to her in ways that are clear, understandable, and beneficial to her.
21. Don’t allow yourself to be reactionary to things, but instead, have the foresight and fortitude to exhibit self-control and demonstrate fruit of the Spirit.
22. Do not return sin for sin; be above reproach, yet not in an attitude of pride – but in one that seeks to honor God in the midst of conflict and bring quick reconciliation and repentance.
23. Continually wash her by the Word. In this, specifically look for opportunities that you can teach without preaching at her.
24. Seek forgiveness without the expectation of reciprocation.
25. Demonstrate complete and faithful love, as Christ did, in a manner consistent with 1 Cor. 13 and Eph. 5, regardless of it being accepted, given thanks for, or reciprocated. The love you are to exhibit is not conditional.
What are some practices you have implemented to cherish your wife and lay down your life sacrificially for her benefit?