Christian husbands are given a particular responsibility—they are to love their wives in such a way that they help them become more like Christ. As Chad and Emily Van Dixhoorn express it in Gospel-Shaped Marriage, “husbands are to love their wives in a Christlike way and to help promote the purposes of Christ, in a Christlike fashion, for the good of their own wives. The love of Christ for his bride—a bride made up of sinful men and women—offers the model disposition that a husband ought to have for his wife, the orientation that should inform all of his thoughts, words, and actions.”
But many of us go about this in a way that is unfair, unwarranted, and ultimately unhelpful. “At their most unimaginative moments, husbands try to help spouses be like Christ’s perfected bride by identifying their wives’ faults with clinical precision.” But there is a better way. The Van Dixhoorns offer some diagnostic questions that will better guide a husband to truly helping his wife:
- Are you loving her with all that you are and all that you have? In other words, do you, like Christ, love your wife deeply, sacrificially, purposefully, and faithfully?
- Are you praying for her and studying your spouse so that you can pray for her better?
- What is your aim in your prayers? Is your prayer really for her? Or for you? What answers to your prayers can be seen?
- Are you leading devotions that profit her? Are you trying to study the Bible and Christian doctrine so that what you say will be thoughtful and useful?
- Does she know that you love her? Or does every moment with you feel like a teaching or improving moment for her?
- Do you ensure that she has time to study God’s word herself or with friends?
You should read Gospel-Shaped Marriage to learn more about how a husband can best love his wife (and, of course, vice versa).