Seldom are single men taught how to be married. Many men come into marriage thinking and behaving like singles “with benefits.” For single men to become husbands, men must switch their thinking from thinking like a single to thinking like a married man. For example, single men only need to think about themselves. They have no one else for whom they need to be responsible. Married men must think about their wives, the impact of their decisions on the marriage, and the needs and happiness of their wives. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “. . . One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:32b, 33) He’s right. Married men need to please their wives.
Whether they know it or not, when single men marry they take on six different responsibilities as a husband. Let’s look at each of the six:
- Love his wife- Most men understand their responsibility to love their wives because sex is a high priority for men. They have the unwritten command of God stamped on their souls to “be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Loving a wife, however, is more than sex. It goes beyond the physical to loving a wife emotionally and spiritually. How do you love your wife emotionally? A man must be sensitive to her feelings and not attempt to talk her out of them or “fix” her. He must be a sympathetic listener and reflect her feelings. Paul exhorts us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). He must express how he feels to her. She cannot read his mind. This is challenging for most men since most men have learned to keep their feelings under wraps and not express them. Finally, a lover will love his wife spiritually. He will pray with her and for her. He will worship with her. He will teach her God’s Word. Together they will both be born again and “on the same page” spiritually.
- Lead his wife- For men, leading is a learned behavior. It requires wives letting their husbands lead and submitting to their leadership (Ephesians 5:24). Leadership does not mean being a dictator or a tyrant. A leader seeks the input and wisdom of his wife but in the end he must be the one to make the decision and bear the responsibility. He must be kind yet decisive in his leadership. He must make wise decisions. How do you make wise decisions? First a husband must pray and ask the Lord for wisdom to make a good decision. James exhorts husbands to ask God for wisdom. He says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Next, he will seek the wise counsel of his wife and perhaps an older wiser person. Thirdly, he will think ahead to the consequences of his decision. What will be the possible outcomes? Finally, don’t vacillate and “change horses in mid-stream.” Once you’ve asked for wisdom and considered the outcomes of your decision, don’t change your mind. The lone exception is when you receive new information you didn’t previously have that directly impacts the decision.
- Provide for his wife- Providing for their needs and the needs of their wives is ingrained into most men. They are imbued with the “Protestant Work Ethic.” Providing is commanded of men and woe to the man who doesn’t provide for his own. Paul tells Timothy, “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 4:8). Men understand this and take on the responsibility of being the provider for the family. Their wives can supplement their income but the primary responsibility for providing income falls to the husband. Providing, like loving, goes beyond physical provision and includes emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual provision. He gives her opportunities to grow intellectually, artistically, and spiritually.
- Protect his wife- Once again this does not come naturally to many men. As singles, men are self-protective and, when they marry, they must learn to be protective of their wives. They must protect them physically from harm and, in the digital age in which we live, they must protect their wives and themselves from online predators and bullies. This will involve having a mutual policy of monitoring all internet-connected devices. Finally, the husband is the one to face down the angry neighbor, right the wrong within the extended family, and defend his wife’s reputation to others. He will always speak well of her in public.
- Sacrifice for his wife- Just as Jesus sacrificed His life by dying on a cross to purchase for Himself a Bride, the church, so husbands must willingly sacrifice themselves for their wives. What will sacrificing himself look like? It will require him to give up his selfish desires to benefit her. It will require him to lay down his life for her sake. Laying down his life may mean giving up his pursuit of success in a business to include her in his life. It may involve changing careers so he can spend more time with her. He may have to sacrifice money, time, and energy to make her dream a reality. My caution to men is to sacrifice with the right attitude, an attitude of humility and love, not for selfish reasons or as a martyr.
- Sanctify his wife- This is one of the hardest responsibilities of a husband. He must sanctify his wife. Paul writes to the Ephesian Christians of a husband’s responsibilities toward his wife and says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ Jesus also loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:25, 26). Husbands will both love their wives and protect their purity. A husband will insure her purity by purifying his own life so that he’s an example of Christ to his wife. He will insure the purity of his home, the purity of all entertainment in the home, the purity of all words, jokes, and actions done in the home. He will provide a pure, holy habitat for his bride. He will read her the Word of God and explain it to her (1 Timothy 2:11).
Being a husband is not easy! It requires men to be responsible in ways they never had to be responsible as singles. The reward, however, is great. They are a type of Christ Jesus to their wives and an example to their children. The impact on their wives and children cannot be overestimated. Their wives and children will reap the rewards of a godly husband.
Christ is our Model Husband,