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Did you know that George Washington lost more battles than he won? Well, according to most accounts that I have read, this is the case. In one report, George won 3 battles and lost 6. In another, he won 5 battles and lost 8.
But, we don’t really remember George Washington for the battles he lost, do we? No, we remember him because HE WON THE WAR.
Now, you may ask, “What in the world does this have to do with marriage?” Well, I think quite a bit.
If you read my last blog (Love & Respect), you know that the Bible calls husbands to “love your wives” (Ephesians 5:33a). And, a few verses earlier, God defines a husband’s love for his wife this way: “Husbands, love your wives, JUST AS Christ loved the church and give himself up for her.…” (Eph 5:25a). On the cross, Christ put aside His selfish desires for the well-being of His bride, the church. Likewise, then, it seems that the Bible is calling Christian husbands to put aside their selfish interests for the well-being of their earthly brides.
The problem is that many Christian husbands don’t know how to APPLY this passage to their lives. How does a Christian husband ”lay down his life” for the well-being of his bride? Well, for nearly 20 years now, Cindy and I have applied the passage this way: In any decision that does not affect the welfare of the family, I die to my selfish interests and allow my wife’s preferences to win. Oak or cherry cabinets, Chevy or Ford, Olive Garden or Red Lobster – it’s what my wife wants. (Interestingly, this lifestyle of dying to myself has not turned her into a selfish monster. Rather, she has felt so loved over the years of living this way that she asks for and values my desires as well.)
Now, I know what the husbands are thinking – it’s what Charles (changed name) thought when I explained this to him. Charles and his wife were having marital difficulties and I was helping them resolve the problems. I explained this concept of “laying down your life to bless your wife” to Charles, and he said to me, “But, in your scenario, I LOSE an awful lot in this deal” .
To which I replied, “Yes, you’re right. However, YOU’RE A LOT LIKE GEORGE WASHINGTON. You might lose some battles, but YOU WIN THE WAR OF A HAPPY WIFE (and a wife who will respect and honor you back).” As my wife says, “Who wouldn’t love a man who loves her the way Christ loved the church?” And, for most Christian husbands, when your wife is happy, YOU are happy.
It says in Hebrews 12:2, “…for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross…” When Christ was giving up His momentary desires at the cross, He had a much greater joy in mind that motivated his sacrifice – the picture of redeeming a people for Himself for eternity.
As such, if Christian husbands are to follow Christ’s example, then we need to keep in mind the much larger joy of a happy wife when we give up our momentary selfish interests. The Bible implies that, as Christian husbands, we will be better off if we love our wives in this way. And, secular research says the same thing – husbands who bless their wives in this way have happier wives, have happier marriages, and (surprise) ARE HAPPIER THEMSELVES!!! (More of this research in another blog)
So, husbands, what are you doing to “lose the battles, but win the war”? When was the last time you gave up your own self interest to bless your wife?
I don’t know about you – but, I’d much rather be a George Washington in my marriage than a “loser” British general who had to go back to England with his tail between his legs.
For Jesus, “for the joy set before Him” meant enduring the cross!! For George Washington, “for the joy set before him” meant fighting wars and enduring the cold at Valley Forge!! For us, well, “for the joy set before us” can be as easy as living with a Ford or oak cabinets! I think that’s a deal I’d take!
Oh, by the way, Charles took take that deal — and he ended up winning the war of a happy marriage.
If you’d like more ideas on how to live this Ephesians 5 way, contact me. After 20 + years of doing it, I’ve got some tried and true ideas.
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