This summer Aileen and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary and I can say with honesty that few things in life have thrilled or honored me more than the fact that she chose to spend her life with me, of all people. All those years ago she agreed to link her life to mine and we’ve been together, joined, ever since. How amazing is that?
Just around the time of our anniversary my devotions led me to the words of Solomon: “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Though I know these words were written specifically to a young man, I began to ponder them as a not-so-young man. Aileen is the wife of my youth, though neither of us can claim to be as youthful as we once were. So how does a no-longer-youthful man heed this? Or perhaps better, what advice or counsel might he offer to those who are newly married? Here’s where my thoughts led as I considered how to rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Rejoice in her gifts. Rejoice in the wife of your youth by rejoicing in her gifts. Much of the joy of marriage comes through having a front row seat to another person’s life. From this perspective you get the joy of seeing her put her talents to work. When she is a Christian you get to see her dedicate her talents and her spiritual gifts to the great purpose of doing good to others and glorifying God. This gives you the reason and ability to rejoice as you watch someone deliberately unleash what God has given her.
Rejoice in her love. Rejoice in the wife of your youth by carefully observing how she loves you and by choosing to enjoy it on those terms. No, the “love language” terminology is not drawn directly out of the Bible and no, it is not at all perfect. But it’s still a helpful way to acknowledge the simple fact that different people express love in different ways. If you ever feel unloved or poorly loved, open your eyes and heart, observe carefully, and you’ll probably see you actually are being loved, though perhaps in a “language” that isn’t your preference. So stop whining and wishing, and instead learn to embrace and enjoy that language. Rejoice in being the unworthy recipient of your wife’s dedication and affection.
Rejoice in her differences. Rejoice in the wife of your youth by rejoicing in who God has made her to be. There is a nagging voice inside many of us that says the chief problem with our wife is the ways in which she is not a man. Men and women tend to be different in their emotional engagement, in the way they process life, in their spirituality, in their sexual interest and response, and so on. These are differences that reflect God’s good design. These are differences to be marvelled at, embraced, and enjoyed, not behaviours to change or annoyances to tolerate. Rejoice in her by rejoicing in those differences and by not wishing she was actually more like you.
Rejoice in her holiness. Rejoice in the wife of your youth by rejoicing in her holiness. One of the greatest blessings I receive every day is seeing Aileen’s open Bible. In fact, sometimes when I know she’s doing her devotions I’ll come and steal a glance just so I can be encouraged by seeing her pursue the Lord. The longer we journey through life together and the more that journey takes us over hard roads, the more precious this becomes. Learn to rejoice in your wife’s holiness—to celebrate her every advance in sanctification and to be patient and forgiving with her sin.
Rejoice in her passions. Rejoice in the wife of your youth by rejoicing in her passions. God gives each of us different interests and makes us in such a way that we are enthusiastic about different things. You can find joy in your wife by learning about those things that she is passionate about, that get her fired up. It may be a great cause or a fun hobby, something that motivates her or something that relaxes her. Either way, when you find joy in what gives her joy, your joy will increase all the more.
Rejoice in her body. Rejoice in the wife of your youth by enjoying the sexual relationship together. I place this one last even though it is the most obvious application from the original text. This passage is sexually-charged and it is clear that Solomon means to convince the reader to be and to remain enamoured with his wife and to enjoy the sexual relationship they share for all of life. “A lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.“ To rejoice in your wife means to actively pursue her, to do those things that delight and allure her, and to maintain an active and ongoing interest in her. To rejoice in your wife means to refuse to rejoice in anyone else—to refrain from desiring anyone else, to refuse from allowing your eyes to linger or your heart to long for any other woman. Through cycles of illness and health, ability and inability, desire and apathy, and all the others highs and lows that come with decades together, rejoice in her, in her body, in her and her alone.
Whether you are a young man, or a not-so-young man, you have the same calling from God: Rejoice in the wife God has given you. Rejoice in his precious gift.