Like most things in life, marriages are not static. It may feel like there are times when we settle into comfortable seasons, but marriages aren’t like McDonalds’ chicken nuggets. If we ignore them for a week, they will not look the same when we come back. Every marriage is growing stronger or weakening. There is no exception.
Marriages grow because the husband and wife are growing. Our marriages don’t exist in some strange limbo where they aren’t affected by our character, spiritual growth, and emotional maturity.
Husbands Must Grow in Their Walk with Jesus
A man’s walk with King Jesus sets the direction for everything else in his life. It does not guarantee that you will have a great marriage, but it will be the foundation upon which all of your growth will be built. When you have a growing walk with Jesus, you will be actively putting to death. Your sin is not only a dishonor to your Lord and a hindrance to your walk, but it also has negative consequences in your marriage. Therefore, a growing Christian man repents and seeks to cut the things out of his life that don’t look like Jesus.
Husbands Must Grow in Their Commitment to Their Wives
In order to have a joyful marriage, you will have to change is drastic ways. I don’t mean that you will have to change your personality, hobbies, and likes. Your character, your words, your quick-temper, and how you respond to pressure will have to change. These changes require long looks in the mirror, hours in God’s word and prayer, and daily repentance.
If you are not committed to your wife until your dying day, this will be more than you can handle. The change can be so painful that you will want to reach for the eject button if you think there is one. Instead, lock out all of your other options and commit yourself fully to the wife of your youth. Every tear shed in repentance will be worth it.
Husbands Must Grow in Showing Kindness
“Be kind to one another.” It is amazing how these simple words from Ephesians 4:32 can change your marriage. Married couples often get into habits where they don’t treat each other with even the most basic courtesy. Harsh words get spoken without apologies, a lack of consideration becomes the norm, and the hostility begins to build.
Instead of falling into the trap we must seek each day by the power of God’s Spirit to show kindness to our wives. Kindness doesn’t mean simply being nice, but rather that in our words, deeds, and intentions we are working to be generous and considerate to our wives. This means that we think about how we can bless with our words and be helpful with our deeds. When kindness becomes the atmosphere of our marriage, it creates an environment in which marriage thrives.
Husbands Must Grow in Confessing Their Wrongs
We struggle in two areas with the sins that we commit against our wives. First, we possess blind spots the size of Texas and often do not realize how we have sinned. At other times, we feel justified in our sin against our wives because of something that we believe was done to us. We must work to remedy both of these issues because our sins against our wives hinder our walk with the Lord and create an enormous barrier to the growth of our marriages.
When you realize that you have sinned against your wife, do not seek to explain yourself. Do not wave it off with a quick “my bad” or a glib “sorry about that.” Instead, own what you have done and repent to the Lord. Then, make things right with your wife by confessing your sin to her. Instead of waving off your sin with half-hearted ownership of them, take responsibility and say, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” When you do this, you take responsibility for your own sin and then give her an opportunity to extend forgiveness.
Husbands Must Grow in Offering Forgiveness
When it comes to our wives’ sins against us, we often have 20/20 vision and a photographic memory. When your wife slights you or responds to you rudely, you turn into a historian who is able to list dates and events that have offended you throughout the entirety of your marriage. “You never” or “you always” show up in our disagreements. Our conflicts aren’t about this issue at hand, but about this issue and every other one that you have had over the years.
We cannot follow Jesus or have a growing, joyful marriage while harboring bitterness and unforgiveness. Bitterness eats at us like cancer and causes serious resentment towards our wives. Instead of holding a grudge over past wrongs, we remember that “love covers a multitude of sin” and that we are to “forgive one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” When our wives sin against us, we forgive freely from the heart, remembering that Christ has forgiven us. This means we let go of our anger and resentment and move towards reconciliation.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ provides the model for how husbands treat their wives. As Christ never leaves or abandons us, we stay faithful to our wives for the rest of our lives. We demonstrate the same kindness, mercy, and compassion to our wives that Christ has shown to us. Then we look to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, where he gave himself up for us, and sacrificially love as we’ve been loved.
“Your Spouse is Your Closest Neighbor“
For Further Reading:
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller
What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp