By Dr. Harold Sala
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19
He never bought flowers for his wife because…. “Well,” he explained, “they just die!” He never bought her a birthday present because they didn’t do that in his family when he was growing up. He never said, “I love you and I’m grateful for what you do,” because he expected her to know that. And when his wife said, “I don’t think you love me!” he exploded, “How can you say that when I do everything for you that I do?” After all, he was faithful to her, brought home his paycheck every week, and carried out the trash.
The sad reality is that after couples marry a lot of wives seem to be ignored much of the time. Their husbands are just not into that sort of thing, not understanding that what may be unimportant to them is tremendously important to a wife, and that ignoring small tokens of gratitude and love leave a wound within a woman’s heart which she will never talk about (at least to him).
I encountered a situation that still baffles me. A husband who had been loving and responsive to his wife’s needs came home one night and quite unexpectedly announced, “I’m not in love with you any more.” For the sake of their child, he decided against separating but moved into another bedroom and they began living together as strangers in the same household.
What goes wrong when the spark goes out of a relationship? First, I’m convinced that most men don’t understand what love is. Growing up in a sex-saturated world, they translate love into that three-letter word, forgetting that Jesus Christ’s love for the church was the model Paul used in telling men, “This is how you should love and treat your wives!”
Furthermore most men go into marriage with an abysmal ignorance of how women think, how they respond, and how they communicate. While men and women use the same words, they use a different dictionary, which gives different meanings to their words. Expecting women to respond as do other men, most husbands are in the dark when it comes to the validation of a woman’s love with acts of kindness, flowers, gifts, and tender words of appreciation.
Men also can’t separate romance and excitement from mature love and unconditional commitment. Busyness and stress roll in like a fog obscuring romance with duties, commitments, and taking care of kids. So they think they are no longer in love.
Here’s the bottom line. Love is a commitment, a decision to care, and that commitment needs to bind two people inseparably together no matter what the emotional temperature of the heart may be.
Jesus’ love for the disciples involved an unconditional commitment to imperfect individuals to meet their needs in a way that required sacrifice. Recognizing that fact, Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church!” (Period!) “And,” as someone commented, “that should be enough love to satisfy any woman.”
The reality is that every woman appreciates being told and reminded that she is special. Little things such as candy, flowers, and romantic text messages mean a lot. And though these things don’t make up for a husband’s failures the other 364 days a year, they are entirely a valid way of saying, “I love you, and I want you to know that if I had it to do all over again, the only thing I would do is marry you sooner!” Yes, indeed. Love is a commitment that takes you through the fog to the clear, clean air of the mountaintop. Love on, and keep on loving.
Resource reading: Colossians 3:5-19.