by Rick Stassi — Husband to Dana, father to Blake and Phoebe. Master of Sam the black lab, who knows I am Alpha around these parts. Full devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a realm of love of which Jesus is the center. It is a circle, a perfect circle, and marriage is on that circle, rotating about the radius point, around Jesus. I am subject to God’s word as a Christian. I am therefore likened to the way of godliness in Jesus Christ: love my wife even as Christ loves us. Fairly obvious in meaning, greatly poignant in the reality of my responsibility in my marriage.
My mind wanders and my thoughts creep, but I am mindful. This love is painted by God, my marriage is authored by God, and my wife is appointed by God. It is a lifetime investment. This investment requires emotional deposits. Our relationship requires me to be a sanctuary of security and safety for my wife. Our marriage requires a commitment from me to stay emotionally focused on my wife.
As I listen to God and put His word into action in my life, His blessing follows; another circle. She submits and feels secure, feels loved, feels the spark of the first day many years ago.
Marriage is not easy. There are obstacles. We see many couples run off in opposite directions when faced with obstacles. They may stay together physically, but emotionally, they drift.
I choose God’s way of learning from obstacles. I remember the circle. Love, emotion, sanctuary, submission … back to love. This is the eternal circle:
Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. ~ Colossians 3:18
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. ~ 1 Peter 3:7
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. ~ Ephesians 5:22
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. ~ Ephesians 5:25
“Love her like Jesus loves the church” is a tall order, because whatever is appointed by God is hated by the Evil One. Just as God hates darkness (Proverbs 8:13), Satan hates marriage. I am capable of shirking off the arrows of the enemy, because I am centered on Jesus. Our marriage is capable of the same. We are a divine appointment; God’s will. We are one heart, one life. If my heart breaks for what breaks Jesus’ heart, it certainly breaks when I look into her eyes glazed with the tears that I have caused.
My marriage is from God and it is holy for that reason. I pray strength to be the strong sanctuary for my wife as God is for me. All works together to glorify God.
When there is criticism, the bristly hairs stand on the back of my neck. I am tense. I begin a process of shutting down. Communication has already begun to fail. At that moment, God enters. I remember the eternal circle. My wife and I are one. She is valid in her critique. After all, don’t I criticize? When my neck stiffens, I try to remember humility. I am her sanctuary. Being a safe place for my wife is my goal, because I love her. She is given to me by God and we are joined, we are one. One heart.
My heart breaks to think of the husband who is emotionally absent. I don’t want to be that husband. Dank and dismal is the sanctuary to which she runs. Still, there is hope in all situations, and the hope lies in trusting God. Begin by serving her. Jesus served and He is the King of kings. I can serve always and in all ways. I am not above serving unconditionally. With service comes the blessing of a loving gaze. Sanctuary returns as my shoulder broadens to accept a cheek, a tear. Hands held tightly; never let go. This is my wife. Mutual love, heavenly love is my desire. The Lord has already provided and now He helps. He is my trust and a joyous blessing comes out of that trust.
Look at your wife. Look at your spouse. God’s gift. Mistakes and criticism. Love and sanctuary. All on the eternal marital circle. Remember…