In Part I of this series entitled, “Needs Which Our Wives Need Met At Home”, we set forth and summarized these three needs with the acrostic T -L -C: Time; Love; and Communication. Having previously addressed the need of our wives for “Time which results in God-honoring, Christ-centered companionship and compatibility”, we now consider a second need which our wives need met at home, namely, “Love spoken in a language which our wives will understand and appreciate.” Allow me to illustrate.
Early on in our nearly 25 years of marriage, my wife, Margaret, and I came to the realization that there was some growing tension between us. In short, we were beginning to wonder if we really “loved each other” as we thought. As we discussed these mutual feelings, by the grace and mercy of God, we both came to a very surprising, but ultimately edifying, insight!
You see, as we began our married life together, being the godly woman that she is, Margaret was faithfully seeking to show her love to me in the language which she understood the best. She was selflessly offering practical help and support in a myriad of ways throughout the course of each day. For example, she would make me a hearty breakfast, keep and clean the house, run all sorts of errands during the day, make any number of phone calls for me, and then welcome me home in the evening with a delicious dinner. Margaret was repeatedly saying, “I love you” in her language by offering to me all sorts of practical help and support along life’s way.
Ah, but the only problem with that, you see, is that I am a “romantic” by nature! That is just how God made me to be. So, while she was working so hard as a young wife trying to keep the house clean, keep up with the laundry, prepare good food and all the rest, as a young husband I was thinking to myself, “Who cares what the house looks like! I want romance!!” At the same time, even though I was busy buying Margaret cards and flowers and little “surprise gifts”, I certainly wasn’t much (if any) help around the house.
In summary, we suddenly realized that while we were both sincerely and repeatedly saying, “I love you” to one another, we were saying it in a language which our marriage partner simply did not understand. And friends, if the message of love which we are trying to send to our husband or our wife is not being received, obviously that has the same negative “emotional impact” upon our spouse as if the message had never been sent at all.
Margaret and I talked through these things. The Lord graciously showed us that we both really did, in fact, love each other and that according to His Word we were completely desirous of remaining fully committed to our marriage vows.
Both Margaret and I consciously committed ourselves to learning and speaking each other’s “language of love”. Consequently, by God’s grace, Margaret became much more of a “romantic” and I simply started helping out around the house and doing more practical things to support my wife in the course of her days. (I don’t mind sharing with you that a side benefit of all this was that through the years I have gladly discovered that my wife’s language of love is much cheaper than my own!)
Now, a particular challenge to the men, if I may. Brothers, why do you suppose that I, as a man and the head of my home, was willing, by God’s grace, to adapt and modify my “language of love” to meet the needs of my wife and seek to put her needs before my own, and why should you be willing and desirous of doing that very same thing? Well, the reason has to do with what we read, in Ephesians 5:25–33 where God’s Holy Spirit inspired Word declares: Husbands, love (agape) your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of His body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
In similar fashion, in Colossians 3:19 Paul writes, “Husbands, love (agape) your wives and do not be harsh with them.” And to both husbands and wives, indeed, to all Christians everywhere, God’s Holy Word declares in I Corinthians 13:48a:
Love (agape) is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
You see, we most often and most naturally express love in a language which means the most to us. But our calling as Christians, our task as God-honoring husbands, is to ask ourselves, indeed, let us even ask our wives, “Honey, how can I say ‘I love you’ in a way that means the most to you?” Some wives most appreciate “romantic gifts” and others “practical helps” and still others may respond most favorably to “hugs or physical touch”. In whatever language of love our wives wish that we would speak, we must be willing to “die to ourselves”, to subjugate our own feelings, wishes, dreams and desires and put the feelings, wishes, dreams and desires of our wives before our own. Men, I assure you, if you do this you can not miss! You will not fail! You will be meeting the needs of your wives ever more faithfully and effectively, and God will be glorified!
Isn’t this what “agape love” and the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about? In Romans 5:8 we read, “And God demonstrates his own love (agape) for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
In the midst of a culture where the message repeatedly being conveyed is, in effect, “I love you because…”; or “I’ll love you until…”; or, “I’ll love you when…”, or “I’ll love you if…” … the godly man, indeed, also the godly woman, any true disciple of Jesus Christ will increasingly seek to model and exemplify the Lord’s kind of love, agape. In Christ, the person will repeatedly say to his/her spouse, in word and in deed, “Honey, I love you - period. Unconditionally; unreservedly; no strings attached. And I promise to show you and express to you that kind of love, each and every day.”
Why? Because in the midst of a very sinful, selfish, self-centered, unloving and often lonely world LOVE -agape -spoken in a language which our wives will understand and appreciate, is one of the Three Key Needs Which Our Wives Need Met at Home.
Rev. Richard J. Kuiken is the Senior Pastor of the Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church.