Marriage is many things. It is not easy, for sure. It can, however, be made much easier and much happier when each person lives for and listens to the other. Ultimately marriage is designed to demonstrate to the world the unfailing love of Christ to the Church. Others should be able to look at your marriage and see how your love toward your wife reflects the love and grace and sacrifice of Christ to his Bride (the church). Your wife should also be able to see, feel and rest in this love, without having to search for it, without having to convince herself that it is there somewhere, without wishing it was how it ‘used to be’. Your wife, above all, should have no doubts about your love for her. Your (expressed) love for her should be so obvious that if it were a crime to love her there would be more than enough evidence to find you guilty as charged.
You’ve heard this before, that husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church. It is not a cliché. It is not a mystery. It is not an option. It is a clear command from the God who blessed you with her and entrusted her well-being to you. What does this mean? Well, loving your wife involves a multitude of things, not one exclusive thing. Unfortunately, many men see love as ‘provision’ –that is, monetary provision. But, oh, it is not just monetary provision. You must remember this.
Yes, God has put within you a provisional drive and a desire to work. Earning and managing money is responsible. It is necessary. But the work you do and the money you earn was never intended to rob your wife, your marriage (and ultimately you) of the other ‘provisions’ – the most important provisions, she needs. Don’t miss this truth: provision is not money, alone. In fact it is the least needed provision she desires, especially if that provision becomes more important to you than her.
The real provision she needs is your time, your undivided attention, your intentional listening, your availability and your unselfish regard for her happiness. Real provision knows what’s happening in her life, being involved in her life, supporting, encouraging and seeking to know intimately her strengths, desires, weaknesses, goals and longings. She wants that from you more than money. (Admittedly, however, it may cost money to achieve some of those things.)
Please listen to me when I say this. There is no greater pain in the emotional life of a woman, no greater loss in the relational life of a marriage than to be entangled in the heartache of disregard. When work and money (or the fear of missing work and ‘losing’ money) take priority over her, then those things, by your own choice, become your god and while you are worshipping labor and numbers, she is desperately longing, deeply yearning and quietly crying to be the priority you once treasured. The true treasure in your life is her. It is not the temporary treasures of this world, certainly not in bank accounts or fat wallets. Do not dismiss what I am saying. Why, am I saying it? I love you. I love your wives and I wish to spare them and you the pain of disregard, the tension of a distant lifestyle, the likelihood of co-habitation and the inevitable regret wrong priorities will eventually deliver. She needs to know that although money is a worldly treasure, SHE is your ultimate treasure.
Your dad is a hard worker. No one can ever deny that fact. Over the years, the “provisional pursuit” has taken its toll, not only on him, but on our relationship and on me. When work, agendas, profits and plans took priority over relationships I felt abandoned, cheated, disregarded, lonely, unimportant, forgotten and taken for granted. Time, effort and energy spent working was necessary, yes, I know. But antique shows, auctions, deals and dealers somehow robbed us both. Dad was gone 7-12 days a month for 20 years while you were growing up. Leisure time, family dinner-time, fun times, time for the two of us to get away from you (wonderful) kids 😉 never happened. Auctions were on many holidays, antique shows ruled the calendar, business deals preoccupied him, always. Worse than that, however, was the inability for your Dad to hear my pleading, to listen to my longings and to receive the common-sense wisdom that could have eliminated the tension, heartache and lost intimacy over the years.
He worked and continues to work because it is necessary, because it is familiar, because it is what he knows. What I don’t want you to miss is although work and money is necessary for living, it is not the only necessity. Your wife’s needs, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, are not only JUST as important, they are MORE important.
So, when you ask yourself, “What am I providing for my wife?” Don’t let money, homes, cars, savings, balanced books or better futures be your answer. Please, dear sons of mine, let your answer be time, memories, conversation, experiences, surprises, celebrations and love. Your treasured wife is worth it. She needs it. She is looking to you for it. Your God demands it. And your own life will be better because of it.
Listen to your wife. She is a voice of insight, discernment and often the voice God will use to steer your life and your marriage in the direction it should be headed. Your pride will want to resist. Swallow it. Your anger will surface, deal with it. Your stubbornness will dig its heels into ungodly logic but you must forfeit it. Your bad habits, natural tendencies and self-centered tunnel vision will fight hard against change. You must fight back harder.
Save this letter. Read it often. Love your wife more with actions than words. I love you both.