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Tuesday, March 02 2021

"Happy wife, happy life." Most men know this saying and want to believe it. Most husbands want to make their wives happy. However, many wives think their husbands do not care, and many husbands struggle to cherish their wives because they do not know how.

            Women have great power in their marriages. The American Sociological Association reports that women initiate 70–90% of divorces, and that increases as one’s level of education increases (Rosenfeld, 2015). Today, women are the most willing to walk away from their marriages. Why? In the book The Empowered Wife (2017), Laura Doyle offers a simple test for wives to think about who has more power in their marriage by asking: "Who loves who more? Do you love him more? Or does he love you more?" (p. 16). Doyle reports that most women answer that he loves her more. Wives often want to improve their marriages but they think it is dependent on their husbands. Doyle finds that women have the power to change their marriages. Is that true? According to the Bible, wives do have God-given power to affect unresponsive husbands with their conduct (1 Peter 3:1–2).

            Wives can do at least one thing to improve their marriage greatly. Doyle reports that women often have a list of complaints for not feeling loved by their husbands, yet husbands have one thing they want from their wives that makes them feel loved and that is respect (The Empowered Wife, p. 105–6). Doyle explains that respect will change men almost instantly. She finds that most women do not know how to respect their husbands or know when they are disrespecting their husbands. She noted that wives do not realize they are disrespecting their husbands when they try to control their husbands by setting their responsibilities, telling them what they should be doing, or instructing how things are to be done. Instead, Doyle coaches wives to comment what they need, what they like, what they cannot do, and what problem they would like solved, and watch their husbands meet those needs. Doyle finds that disrespect drives husbands away from their wives until wives give up on the marriage. Furthermore, Doyle observes that disrespect discourages men from becoming better in various ways. Is she right? Doyle has challenged thousands of women to test her by showing respect to their husbands and see if he changes in as little as 2 weeks.

            The Bible emphatically teaches wives to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). Why should women respect their husbands? Is not respect for someone of authority like a judge, an employer, or a teacher? The biblical command seems to imply that men need respect from their wives to take the initiative and lead by example.

            The apostle Peter gives excellent instruction to wives about how they can win their husbands by “respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:1–2). This command comes with a promise that wives can affect change in their husbands by their behavior. Peter expanded on respect teaching wives to be clothed with the hidden person of the heart with the beauty of a gentle and peaceful spirit as God values (3:3–4). Peter further observed how Sarah respected her husband, even obeyed him, and recognized him as "lord" (3:5–6). Abraham was "lord" and leader over 318 men and the whole of his camp. One could argue that Abraham merited his wife's respect for his leadership. However, Sarah could have listed reasons not to respect her husband for not standing up to Pharaoh and later to Abimelech and letting her go with another man or agreeing to take Hagar as another wife to raise a son from her. However, the wife who is faithful to God can look past faults and find good reasons to respect her husband again.

            Both the husband and the wife are responsible for their marriage. The Bible does not command husbands to demand respect of their wives as wives cannot demand love. The Scriptures command husbands to love sacrificially, cherish, and nourish their wives and instructs wives to respect by being subject to their husbands (Ephesians 5:25–31). Most husbands want to make their wives happy, and they will keep trying as long as their wives respect their efforts. How can Christians improve their marriages? "Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33).

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email