Love And Respect In Marriage

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33).

I tread cautiously on this topic.

When I write on relationships, especially marriage, I feel like a hypocrite. I can write what scripture teaches and give information authoritatively with the exhortation of  – you better do this! 

Then I realize that I don’t do the things that I write about.

Let’s agree that after this Interruption, Pastor Grant will try to understand and to apply “love and respect” in his marriage – but he will fall short! I challenge you to do the same.

In Ephesians 5:32, the Apostle Paul writes about marriage as a mystery. This is a good place to begin with any attempted understanding of marriage. The more you study, the more you live, the more you discuss – the more it gets complicated.  

Recognizing this mystery, Ephesians gives two parameters, or boundaries, for any discussion of marriage.  

Parameters, boundaries, guidelines – consider the banks of a stream. My writing office on the second floor of my house overlooks a stream. It’s raining hard now, and the banks of the stream are overflowing.  

Water within the banks = good. Water out of the banks = bad.

The two banks that Paul uses to describe marriage are husbands “love” your wives and wives “respect” your husbands. Love and respect = a good marriage, while lacking love and respect = difficulties in marriage.

Looking out my window, I notice the stream is raging. I also see the ground around a large tree being washed away. This tree is 25 feet from my window. My imagination – and I have an active imagination – sees a tree falling into my office.

Have you observed a seemingly healthy marriage fall suddenly? The cause? No banks, no guidelines, and no boundaries of love and respect. Then anger, passion, and frustration slowly eat away at the roots until there is a relational collapse.

When a Christian leader has a failed marriage, when friends with the perfect marriage file for divorce – it wasn’t a sudden fall. The banks of love and respect were washed away.

Love is doing what is right for the other person. Respect means to honor. Both words indicate that we should not entertain thoughts, words, or attitudes that diminish our marriages.

Paul writes for husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. Yes, both husband and wife should love and respect, but scripture indicates a husband should approach the relationship differently than his wife.

The husband should elevate his wife and marriage with faithfulness and fidelity. The wife should honor the efforts of her husband.

Why does Paul ask a husband to “love” and the wife to “respect?” Arguments can form quickly on the roles of men and women in marriage – with the practical application of healthy boundaries soon lost in the discussion.

I think both a husband and wife should love and respect. The husband “loves” and the wife “respects.” When Paul writes Ephesians 5:33, he understands the scriptural differences in the creation of man and woman. 

The mystery of marriage must be to work out roles according to these differences, while staying within the banks of love and honor. And each marriage will be unique. 

Creak, Crackle, Crash!

I hear a sound, like something about to fall on my head. I don’t think it’s the tree outside my window; perhaps it’s the reactions of those reading this Interruption.