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Using Christian Values to Be a Better SpouseEssay

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¶ … Husband through the Imitation of Christ

Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Eph 5:25). It is a clear commandment, divine in nature, on what true husbandry is about: it is about selflessness and sacrifice, about leading by example in the same way that Christ led His disciples and all His followers. In this paper, I will discuss how, as an imitator of Christ, over the next 30 days I am committed to becoming a considerate husband.

One of the examples that Christ gives to His disciples is this: Rome was not built in a day. In the Christian context, this means that Christ does not expect nor desire us to become something we are not virtually overnight. We are told, for instance, the analogy of the man who looked in a mirror and then presently forgot what manner of man he was (James 1:24), or the parable of the man who swept his house only to be invaded by seven devils worse than the first (Matt 12:44). These stories suggest the folly of doing anything haphazardly or willy-nilly expecting permanent or lasting results. Rather, Christ recommends that we take time for ourselves to change -- that we remove ourselves from issues we might be having, from the world, from distractions -- that we retreat so to speak in order to dwell and focus upon our spiritual lives and primary aims. He does this by giving the example of going into the desert to pray and fast for forty days (Matt 4:1-11). He anticipates His coming Passion, His trial -- and He knows that He must prepare for it: and so too does He know that we will face trials and our own crosses; so He gives us this example of taking time to prepare so that we do not foolishly expect spiritual returns, spiritual joys and consolations immediately only to be overwhelmed by the assaults of the enemy who wants to lead us to despair. So this is the first point that is important for me to keep in mind as I make this commitment to be a more considerate husband: time. I must give myself time to grow and develop in this commitment. That it is why I have given myself 30 days. Following the example of Our Lord, I have chosen this number, an entire month, to stay focused on this goal and this objective that I might more effectively attain it and likewise be prepared for the challenges.

The first question, of course, is this: how do I expect to attain this goal? What example does Christ give to me in order to do this? St. Paul speaks of Christ loving the church and giving himself up for it -- and that husbands should do the same for their wives. This truly is the place to start: I must remind myself that my wife is not here for me but rather that I am here for my wife. This notion has multiple ramifications.

First off, I am here for my wife: what does this mean? It means that I must love her. A woman needs love just as a man needs respect.[footnoteRef:1] It means that I should not be dismissive of her feelings or of her desire to communicate them to me. It means that I should help out around the house, with the kids, and with the chores. But there is also more meaning to this. There is a capacity as leader that I must fulfill -- the example of goodness that I should give. In the spiritual realm, I must provide support regarding the cultivation of our spiritual lives together. After all, we are two in one flesh (Mark 10:8) and our spiritual life is no more separated than our physical life. We should learn to pray together, to fast together, etc. This direction should come from me, just as Christ gave it to His disciples through His own example. [1: Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 1.]

Second off, how can I commit myself to this resolution? What steps, what method can I enact in order to attain this goal? Here, too, Christ gives examples that I can imitate. For example, Christ became man and "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant…he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil 2:6-8). For me, this suggests that I must be willing to devote myself to the Other in my life -- my wife -- and this devotion should come in the form of one who is humble and not centered on self. As Christ died on the cross, so too should I be willing to die to myself daily. Rather than focus on how I want the day to revolve around me and my needs, I can look at what I can do to help my wife and her needs. For example, as she looks after the children, what can I do to ease this burden? As she cleans the house, what can I do to help?

Helping out in this way is a good thing to do, but surely it can become tiring and to meet the challenge of weariness, I can again turn to the example of Christ, Whom I can imitate in His preparation for this challenge. Christ spends time in prayer (Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35, Matt 14:23, Luke 6:12, Luke 9:28), withdrawing from the world. This withdrawal is necessary as Christ shows because it allows us to replenish our souls so that we can return to the world and continue giving. It also allows us to spend time with God in prayer, which can help to make us more pleasing to Him. Union with God is after all the main goal -- and by being considerate to my wife is one way that I can better effect this union. Husbands can see the love of God shining through the love they have their spouse.[footnoteRef:2] This is clear from the following: [2: Fulton Sheen, Three to Get Married (NJ: Scepter Publishers, 1951), 34.]

There are numerous imperatives that one could locate in the Bible referring to how a husband should interact with his wife. Colossians 3:19 states, "Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." This imperative is important for any husband committed to becoming a better, more considerate husband. Christ loves sinners and is not harsh with them but on the contrary does not judge them. So too should the husband be towards his wife. Likewise, 1 Peter 3:7 states, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." Here it is clear that being inconsiderate to one's wife can act as an impediment to a husband's spiritual growth. Peter essentially says that charity starts at home and that if a man cannot show charity to his wife then he will have little charity to show to God. Moreover, by showing consideration to my wife, I am showing obedience to God, which is something that Christ demonstrates often (Matt 12:50).[footnoteRef:3] This concept is important for me to keep in mind over the next month as I refine my attitude and way of behaving towards my helpmate. [3: Demetrice Gates, Wisdom Crieth Out! (KC: Wisdom Crieth Out Ministries, 2000), 56.]

Therefore, the first step to take towards becoming a more considerate husband is to identify my own need to be with and rely upon God and His grace. This means that I need to withdraw from the world and pray in imitation of Christ Our Lord Who did exactly this numerous times throughout His public life. How should I do this as I begin my resolution to be a considerate husband? I could adopt a routine of prayer, such as morning prayer when I wake up or evening prayer when I go to bed. Or I could take a walk in the afternoon and pray during that time. The schedule is not so important as the fact that I commit to this course of action. Prayer is a good thing and Christ wants us to pray so that we can be ready to meet life's temptations.

The second step is to listen to Christ when He speaks to us. As John MacArthur notes, the will of God is found in Scripture.[footnoteRef:4] There, Christ speaks to us in many ways, whether in story or directly as when He tells us of the beatitudes. These beatitudes are very helpful indicators in so far as they define an approach which any husband can adopt when making a resolution such as this. For example, the fifth beatitude, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown… [END OF PREVIEW]

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