For years the divorce rate in America has been at the 50% mark. While the rate is lower among members of the Lord’s church, it is still common to see marriages fail. There are a number of reasons why it happens. In the case of each failed marriage there is sin. The husband, or wife, or both, are living in a rebellious state before God. Such unfaithfulness leads to the dissolution of the marriage bond. The problem may be marital infidelity, pride, selfishness or dishonesty, but sin is present.
The simplest answer when seeking a cure for marital discord is to live faithfully before God. If a husband and wife are living righteously, their marriage will be successful and happy. However, it is necessary to explain what is righteous living in regard to domestic responsibilities. Above and beyond putting God first in our lives, here are a few “needs” that should be considered to ensure a strong and lasting marriage.
What a wife needs:
- Affection. “My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land’” (Song of Solomon 2:10-12). The voice of her beloved was precious and sustaining to the Shulamite. While a man might not see as much value in expressed devotion, a woman needs and deserves such from her husband.
- Conversation. Scientific studies indicate that men and women on average speak roughly the same number of words per day. However, where men talk about concrete objects, women spend more time talking about people and relationships. The wise man will use this knowledge to work on his own relationship with his wife. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
- Honesty and Openness. Marriage is a lifetime partnership. It is based on trust and intimacy. A wife deserves nothing less. “Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you” (Proverbs 4:25)
- Financial Support. God has given the man the responsibility to support his family. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
- Commitment to Family. A wife needs her husband to be the head of the home. His position is one of authority, and nothing is more destructive to the home than for him to abdicate his responsibilities. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
What a husband needs:
- Sexual Fulfillment. Such desires are to be satisfied within the marriage relationship (cf. Proverbs 5:15-20). Paul was very explicit in establishing the responsibility that both the husband and the wife have to satisfy such needs, stating in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5, “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time…”
- Companionship. In Genesis 2:18, God said concerning Adam, “It is not good that man should be alone.” The woman was made to be a companion to the man. A pleasant and accommodating personality is necessary to accomplish this important work.
- An Attractive Spouse. The Song of Solomon places an interesting emphasis upon physical appearance (cf. 4:9-11). Physical attraction is part of the marriage relationship. This is especially important to the man. A wise wife will understand that, and seek to please her husband.
- Domestic Support. The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 was praised by her husband because of the industry and care she supplied to her family (vs. 29).
- Admiration. The world in general does not appreciate the efforts, nor the sacrifices that men make to care for and support their families. But, the wife should be mindful of these things, and praise him often, “let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).
Though this list is by no means exhaustive, perhaps it will be helpful to both husbands and wives. Work on your marriage to keep it strong and happy!
(Note: The main points for this article were borrowed from a sermon by Joe Price that appeared in the March 11, 2010 issue of The Spirit’s Sword)