Written By Victor Goh, Singapore
Last year was a crazy year—I got married.
As a “new husband” trying to score brownie points with my wife (and also because I wanted to get our first Valentine’s Day together right), I had been thinking of ways to “die” for my wife (Ephesians 5:25). It doesn’t necessarily mean an actual physical death, but it sure will feel like it on some occasions!
These were some of the ideas that came to my mind:
Do Little Acts of Love
My wife is a teacher. Every day, she wakes up three hours before me in order to reach school before 7 a.m. My sleeping habits on the other hand, are terrible. I don’t usually sleep before 1 a.m.—a habit that started in my student days.
So one of the things I try to do—with much difficulty—is to wake up earlier occasionally to have breakfast with her near her school, especially if I know she has a long day ahead. On other days, I pack little containers of food for her to bring along to work. I figured since I usually stay up late, I might as well spend the time doing something nice for my wife.
Little acts of service like these show our willingness to go the extra mile to spend time with our loved ones. So go ahead, surprise your spouse with little acts of love, and I am certain he or she will notice and be touched.
One of the challenges of marriage is that it throws two people with likely contrasting lifestyles together.
So they clash.
We are often warned of this “clash of cultures” in marriage preparation courses. With things like differing sleeping habits and whether we squeeze the toothpaste from the middle or bottom of the tube, marriage requires us to make new discoveries about each other—and not all may be things we like!
Through my many interactions with my wife, God reminded me that I have much to work on. Gentleness has never been a strong suit for me—I am the sort who usually speaks my mind, and usually not too tactfully. Be it communicating something or receiving feedback, I have a terrible tendency to be quite blunt.
But Paul and Peter gave great advice to husbands:
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Pet 3:7)
So to my fellow husbands out there, play nice. Be understanding and gentle, even if that is not the usual you. If not, you may have to be doing much of the following . . .
Apologizing would be the death of most men (most humans, for that matter). A recent sitcom I watched reinforced this in a humorous way. The wife in the sitcom wanted to invite a couple over for dinner, certain that her husband would love to meet them. However, her husband was not particularly thrilled; he believed he did not need more friends. When they finally met, both husbands realized they shared many common interests and hit it off right away. But because the husband did not want to admit to his wife that she was right, he would not tell his wife whom he was meeting whenever he met the other husband.
I’m pretty similar. I would rather get into an argument than admit I’m in the wrong, which often sees me bickering with my wife even in scenarios where I am clearly in the wrong (think leaving unwashed bowls on the computer desk for hours after eating).
Recently, in a thought-provoking interview with online ministry Desiring God, Ajith Fernando, the teaching director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, said: “Until I apologize, I am a bad example to my family . . . For a Christian, apologizing should not be a big deal, because we get our identity from God—and that identity is a gift that has been given through grace.”
Many times, I don’t want to admit an error or something is my fault because of pride, image, or reputation. Ajith’s quote prompted me to correct my thinking: “If our identity was in our performance, then apologizing would be a big deal. But our identity comes from grace. When we do wrong, grace is hindered, and we can’t live without grace.”
Dying to our pride and humbly apologizing to our wives, whether in little or big squabbles, tells our wives we are committed to working things out and that we recognize God has been gracious to us.
The Mystery of Marriage
One of the first few things I learned during our marriage preparation course is that marriage is a one-of-a-kind journey of sanctification like no other. It is a journey where two sinful human beings come together in the Lord and sharpen one another.
One key thing I’ve learned about being a husband is that headship as described in the Bible is not about the right to command or control. It is the responsibility to love like Christ: to lay down my life in servant leadership. Holiness as a husband means spending yourself for your wife. It is costly. For me, it is a lot about giving up the comforts and bad habits of singlehood, and realizing that I now share a life with another who is equally wondrously made.
Marriage is a journey of the constant death of two individuals, that they may become one in Christ. So to my brothers out there, would you die for your wife?