Being married to my wife is the greatest earthly blessing of my life. Joy and I have been married for 14 wonderful years, and I simply can’t imagine life without her. I write this post with some sense of fear because I know that I’m not a perfect husband, though I want to grow in being a faithful husband for the rest of my life. While this short blog post won’t exhaust what it means to be a faithful husband, I offer the following thoughts for your consideration.
1. A faithful husband is a faithful follower of Christ. Above all else, a faithful husband learns from Christ how to love his wife because he knows how Christ has treated him. He understands that Jesus loves him, not because he is good, worthy, or obedient, but simply because He has chosen to love him. A faithful husband’s heart has been conquered by the love of Christ, and he loves Christ because Christ has first loved him. So, he lives under the rule of Christ and keeps His good commandments because he has been bought with a price. And he loves his wife, not because she earns his love, but because Christ loves him, sets an example of love, and commands him to love his wife.
2. A faithful husband loves his wife. While this may seem obvious, it is far from obvious. Loving our wives does not mean enjoying how much they love us. When I do premarital counseling, I often ask couples, “What is it you love about the other person?” Sometimes the man says: “I love how she puts me first;” “I love how she makes me feel;” or “I love how she seems to really understand me.” But love for a wife is not loving how well she loves you. I once heard a husband say, “I finally figured out why I’m so happy in my marriage. My wife and I are both in love with me.” But a faithful husband loves his wife by serving her without demanding anything of her in return. He loves his wife by putting her needs first, not selfishly demanding that she meet his needs. She is not his servant or caretaker. She is his love. That means he works for her, not only outside the home, but in the home and in their relationship. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
3. A faithful husband speaks with gentleness and grace to his wife. That is, he doesn’t use his words to control his wife for his own selfish benefit. He doesn’t speak harshly with her or belittle her to get her to treat him the way he wants to be treated. The Bible warns, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov 12:18). A faithful husband uses his words to nourish, strengthen, and edify his wife. “Let no unwholesome words come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29). That means faithful husbands put off judgmental, critical, and demeaning words. And they put on words of love, encouragement, acceptance, and grace. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).
4. A faithful husband leads by serving his wife and setting a Christlike example. A husband’s leadership is grossly misunderstood in some conservative Christian circles. Husbands are not to lead their wives by telling them what to do or by requiring them to submit to them. The Bible never tells husbands to make their wives submit to them. Rather, husbands are to lead their wives by serving and loving them. God tells wives to submit to their husbands, but they are to do it freely from their hearts because they want to, not because their husbands are requiring them to submit. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus says:
“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
5. A faithful husband humbly preaches Christ to his wife. When his wife is discouraged, he holds out the comforts of Jesus. He tries to encourage her with the sure promises of Scripture. When she sins against him, he doesn’t respond with more sin. Instead, he’s gracious and deals with her in the gospel. He speaks to her as God in Christ speaks to him in the Word. When he sees the qualities in his wife that he adores, he celebrates God’s grace in his wife. He rejoices with his wife in the gospel of Christ, that He has reconciled them to God, that He has given them life eternal. And he reminds his wife of these things. If he ever sees his wife losing sight of Christ, he preaches Christ with all humility and love for her. He always tries to remind her of the wonders and graces of Jesus. And in this way, a faithful husband tries to make Christ central in the home by his words and his example for the glory of God and the benefit of his wife.
May God grant believing couples to build their marriages on the Lord Jesus Christ for His glory and for their joy.