“One person alone cannot make a home what it ought to be, or what it might be. One sweet spirit may spread through the home the odors of love, even though there is bitterness and strife among the other members – just as one fragrant flower may spread a breath of perfume through a hedge of thorns. The influence of one gentle and unselfish life may also – over time – soften rudeness and melt selfishness, and pervade the home-life with the blessedness of love. Yet it is still true that no one member of a household can make that household-life full and complete. Each must do a part. The husband has a part, all his own, which no other can do; the wife has a part; and each brother and sister has his or her own part. Just as the different parts in music unite to produce harmony that pleases the ear, or as the artist’s colors combine on his canvas to please the eye, or as the different parts of a machine work together to produce some effect of power or motion; so also, when each member of the family is faithful in every duty and responsibility, the result will be harmony, joy, and blessedness.
“What is the husband’s part? How does the Word of God define his duties as a husband? What is in- volved on his part in the marriage-relationship? What does he owe to his wife? When he stands at the marriage-altar, takes the hand of his bride in his, and makes solemn vows and pledges in the presence of God and of human witnesses; what is it that he promises to do?
“There is one word that covers all: the word love. “Husbands, love your wives,” is the Scriptural command – with all Divine authority – from the Holy Scriptures. The counsel is very short, but it grows exceedingly long when it is fully accepted and observed.
“The art of the photographer is now so perfect that he can reproduce the whole face of a great city news-paper on a plate that is small enough to be worn in a little pin; yet as you look at it under the microscope, you find that every word is there – every point and mark. So also, in this word love, we have a whole volume of thoughts and suggestions of life and duty, all crowded together; and as we study it closely and carefully, every one of them appears distinctly and clearly written out. What are some of the things that are embraced in a husband’s love?
“One is fondness – affectionate regard. When a man offers his hand in marriage to a woman, he says by his act that his heart has made choice of her among all women; and that he has for her a deeper and tenderer affection than for any other. At the marriage-altar he solemnly pledges to her a continuance of that love until death. When the beauty has faded from her face and the luster from her eyes, when old age has brought wrinkles, or when sickness or anxiety or sorrow has left blemishes behind; the faithful husband’s love is to remain as deep and true as ever. His heart is still to choose his wife among all women, and to find its truest delight in her.
“But the word love implies more than mere emotional fondness. The Scriptures give the measure of the love which husbands are to bear to their wives: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it.” There is no earthly line that is long enough to fathom the depths of Christ’s love for His Church, and no mortal man can love in the same degree; yet insofar as that love can be repeated on earth, every husband is required to repeat it. Christ gave Himself for His Church; the husband is also to give himself – that is, to deny himself, and to utterly forget himself in simple and whole-hearted devotion to his wife. In the true husband who realizes all that this Divine command involves, selfishness dies at the marriage-altar. He thinks no longer of his own comfort, but of his wife’s. He takes the impact of the storm himself, and shelters her from its blast. He labors to support her. He denies himself so that he may bring new pleasures and comforts to her. He counts no sacrifice too great to be made, which will bring benefit to her.
“Alas! How many husbands never realize the sacredness of this responsibility which they so lightly take upon themselves! How many fail, also, to keep the holy trust! With rude feet, they tread upon the delicate lives which they swore at the altar to defend and cherish until death. How many let selfishness rule instead of love! How many fail to answer the needs of the tender hearts which they have pledged themselves to fill and satisfy with love! Every husband should understand that when the woman of his own free and deliberate choice places her hand in his and thus becomes his wife, she has taken her life – with all its hopes and fears, all its possibilities of joy or sorrow, all its capacity for development, and all its tender and sacred interests – and placed it in his hand. He is now under the most solemn obligations to do all in his power to make that life happy, beautiful, noble, and blessed! To do this, he must be ready to make any personal sacrifice. Nothing less than this can be implied in loving his wife as Christ loved His Church when He gave Himself for her!
Husbands, when you married your bride, you pledged to love her until death parts this sacred relationship. In what ways do you show your affectionate regard for her on a regular basis? But, as Mr. Miller points out, emotional fondness alone is not love. The Apostle Paul gives you the Scriptural standard: love your wives as Christ loved His Church. Do you pray daily for grace and strength to give yourself, in simple and whole-hearted devotion, to your wife?
To those who are wives… if you’ve been blessed with a husband who models the love of Christ in your marriage relationship, never forget to thank God for this immense gift to you. And if this is not the case, may I suggest making it a daily habit to lift up your husband’s name before the throne of grace? Beseech the Lord to transform his heart and cause him to become an imitator of our loving Redeemer!
Do you have any reflections on the topic of the husband’s relationship and responsibilities towards his wife? Feel free to share your thoughts and questions with all of our readers in the comments section below!
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
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