I went with the inflammatory title for a reason.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body.
A husband’s love is to emulate Christ’s for the purpose of sacrificial sanctification. Christ’s loving sacrifice for us on the cross was that so we would be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Thus, a husband is to love his wife for the purpose of sanctification. How can he do that? By discipling her in the faith, which part of that includes the use of Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
In general, husbands should be discipled by other men in the faith, and they should be discipling others including their wife and children in the faith. Much like God commands the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
What does this mean? What are some practical examples?
Here’s one example I used in the book. While I was dating my wife she was being disrespectful in her speech with other people toward me, so I pulled her aside and told her not to speak about me that way. If your wife is treating you in a way that is not Christ-like with the fruit of the Spirit you should be teaching, rebuking, correcting, or training her to operate in a way that conforms with Christ.
The problem is that many Christian husbands don’t do this, so their relationship or marriage devolves into a pattern of disrespectful behavior.
One of the axioms I’ve used on this blog before always rings true: You teach others how to treat you.
If you let your girlfriend or wife run all over you or treat you with disrespect, that’s the type of relationship you are going to have. You need to grow a backbone and tell her disrespectful or non-Christian behavior is unacceptable. Just as Adam failed to rebuke Eve (and the serpent) in the garden when she gave him the fruit, husbands are to emulate Christ to be more like Him instead of doing nothing and allowing the sinful behavior to slide.
Use wisdom. If you and your wife get hotheaded, make a rule that there’s no talking about things until emotions have cooled off. If there’s name calling don’t engage. If she’s acting like a spoiled child then call it out.
If you don’t tolerate manipulative behavior and don’t respond it then surprise surprise it will improve over time.