What Your Spouse Wants
Scripture: Ephesians 5:33
What Your Spouse WantsEphesians 5:33
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Pastor Randy Smith
Well my friends, we arrive at our fifth and final sermon on the subject of marriage. All these messages have been from Ephesians 5:22-33, and if applied, I am confident you can have a joy-saturated marriage and one that honors God by appropriately displaying with your spouse the glorious marriage that Jesus Christ has with His bride, the church.
Today's sermon will cover the final verse in this section. It's only one verse and a verse that many people read over without giving it much thought. Over the past couple weeks I've put a lot of thought into it and am excited to set aside an entire sermon for what I have discovered.
Perhaps I'm overstating it a bit, but I believe this verse contains the secret for a happy marriage. This verse, still applicable after it was written 2,000 years ago, reveals what married couples must give each other in a marriage relationship (main point!) - something that is often overlooked or misunderstood. I am talking about verse 33.
Let's read this verse again. Listen carefully! "Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."
Very simple! Clearly this verse first tells a husband how he should treat his wife and then tells a wife how she should treat her husband. Did you catch that? Husbands are to love their wives and wives are to respect their husbands.
Now we are not saying that husbands don't want love. Nor are we saying wives don't want respect. What we are saying is that God has created men and women very differently. What we are saying is that a husband's primary desire is to receive respect and a wife's primary desire is to receive love. We need both, but we each need one in a unique way based upon our gender.
You see, wives are made to love. They want to love and expect love in return. On the contrary, men are made to respect. They want to respect and expect respect in return. In general, this is the way we are wired. Nothing wrong with that, yet the problems come when spouses treat each other in a way they desire to be treated themselves. To them it feels only natural. Yet to their partner they fail to provide each other's primary biblical need.
Let me go right to extreme. Statistics say at least half of marriage partners will have an affair. The percentage for wives is lower, but it has risen dramatically in the past decade. We have to ask the question: Why does it happen?
Based on nearly every conversation I have had with a partner regarding infidelity, the response is always the same.
It's not that a woman doesn't love her husband. Often their husband is a decent guy who provides for the family and respects his wife. So what gives? She emotionally gets involved with another man because he provides the care, compassion and concern (the love!) that her husband has been failing to show.
As for the guy, often his wife shows him love - makes his dinner, washing his clothes and listens to his stories. And often the girl he cheats with is even less attractive than his wife. So what gives? Once again, he was seduced by a woman who admired him, encouraged him and didn't belittle him (she respected him!). Proverbs 7:21, "With her many persuasions she entices him; with her flattering lips she seduces him."
One woman wrote, "I realized that my husband had cheated on this woman, not because of her looks or her personality, or because she was anything so great, but rather she was his captive audience. She thought he hung on the moon. Every remark he made to her was witty; everything he did was perfect. In her eyes, he was the most handsome, intelligent, funny man in the world. He needed an ego boost, and she was ready and willing to be that for him" (Eggerichs, Love and Respect, p. 68).
Husbands and wives, for your marriage to be successful you need to learn how your partner processes. From what I have seen, when each does not receive their core desire, it makes it hard for them to give their spouse their core desire. Disrespected husbands have a tough time loving their wives. And unloved wives have a hard time respecting their husbands. This in my experience starts a vicious cycle.
And you need to understand when your spouse is only acting in a way based on their core desire. Just like when a wife says, "I have nothing to wear." That means she has nothing new. And when a man says, "I have nothing to wear." That means he has nothing clean. The same is true with love and respect.
According to verse 33 this is a biblical concept. Let's see what the Bible has to say.
1. What Wives Want (a word to the men)
So we'll start with a talk to the guys in our first point. In general terms, what does your wife want? We've spent a lot of time with the guys in this series and much of this is review so I'll keep my comments brief.
According to verse 33, your wife's core desire is to be loved. That should come as no shock. Verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives." Verse 28, "So husbands ought also to love their own wives." And here in verse 33, "Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife."
Men we already learned that the model of our love for our bride is to follow the pattern (verse 25) of Christ's love for His bride, the church. We've covered this in detail. According to this section, that is to be (one) a sacrificial love, denying yourself to meet her needs. (Two) a purifying love (verses 26 and 27) that seeks to help your wife become more godly. And (three) a tender love, as Jesus "nourishes and cherishes" His bride we should do the same for ours.
Some specific thoughts, men.
One, your way of displaying love might be different than the way your wife expects to receive love. To a guy, love means provision. Important! But to a wife, love means an arm around their shoulder and tender words. To a guy love means fixing the problem. Important! But to a wife love often means a listening and understanding ear.
Two, men, if you want respect, be a man that is worthy of respect. Take care of yourself. Be dignified. Don't talk to your wife like she's just one of the guys in the locker room. Practice what you preach. Be the godly leader that brings the family to the Word and turns off the movie when something inappropriate arises. Respectable men are zealous to guard their homes from negative influences. Be a spiritual leader!
And three, 1 Peter 3:7 says to treat your wife as a fragile vase. Men, you have the greatest capacity to lift your wife's spirit or squash it to oblivion. Oftentimes a woman's self-image will rest on what she believes her husband thinks of her. It's the difference of a woman soaring like an eagle, liberated to reach her God-given potential as compared to the ones who are living under tons of oppression and you can read it all over their faces.
2. What Husbands Want (a word to the women)
Let's move to the women, our secondpoint.
We learned in Ephesians 5:21 that the wife is commanded to submit to her husband. The man follows Christ as the loving leader. She gets her cues representing the church that follows Christ. It's not that she's less educated, gifted or spiritual. It's just the way God has designed leadership in the marriage. The man is accountable before God and the wife (unless she is being called to disobey God) is to support her husband so he may be the man that God has called Him to be.
So submit is one command for the wife. The other command, often overlooked, is verse 33. She is also commanded to respect her husband. Men and women should love and respect each other. But in the formal sense, men are called to love and women are called to submit and respect.
So ladies, what do the men want? Now a word to the wives.
Ladies, you want respect. You understand what respect means. However, I am convinced most women have no clue how to specifically respect their husbands or how much their husbands really need respect. No clue simply because it's nowhere as a big a deal to you as it is to him.
We are all familiar with the Aretha Franklin song sang during the peak of the women's liberation movement in the late 60's. The song title was simply, "Respect." "R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me." Yet what few people know that that song was not written by a female, but rather a man named Otis Redding. It was a cry from deep in a man's soul.
Ladies, we yearn for it! Read Ester 1 in your Bible. Note the King's response when he felt disrespected by Vashti (Est. 1:10-12).
Think with me ladies. Why would most men watch unknown women and children enter the lifeboat and die themselves in the process when they had the opportunity to save their own lives? Because they would rather perish from the earth than be known as a disrespectful man.
Why do we go down the card isles and see nearly every card to be purchased for a spouse dealing with love? Because men instinctive know they need to love their wives and they buy those cards, but women believe that men think just like them that the greatest need for a husband is love and they buy those cards too. How much more would it mean to a guy if he received a card that said, "Babe, I really respect you!"
Why is it that if I asked men, maybe even the men in this church, if their wives love them that they would almost unanimously respond in the affirmative? But if I asked men if their wives respect them I might get a bunch of blank stares.
Why is it that a man's need for a man's respect has been squashed by our culture? Why is it if a man talks about his desire to be respected that he is viewed as arrogant? Why is it that most men portrayed on television today are bumbling fools that are unworthy of respect, dependent on the wife to run the show? Why do men and women find it funny when we marginalize and dismiss what God's word says is our greatest need?
Why is it that an athletic coach or military leader does not motivate his men by telling them how much he loves them, but rather tells them to sacrifice for the team, leave it all on the field, make their loved ones proud, represent the team and how much he believes that they are up to the task?
Why have we feminized masculinity to such a point that we expect guys to respond contrary to their God-ordained chemistry? Why are men so confused and most marriages in shambles? I think this one verse in the Bible is shedding some light on those issues.
Ladies listen, most husbands can do just fine without a birthday card and a back rub. They can even go without a meal, a hand being held and a goodnight kiss. But if you disrespect a man, he is guaranteed to lose heart. And many wives simply don't understand that and that it is the primary reason their husbands are pulling away from them in marriage.
Some thoughts ladies: Don't speak negatively of him behind his back. Don't go to others, especially another man, for advice before consulting him. You can disagree, but do it with respect. Don't belittle, criticize, or nag him. Express your confidence in him. Encourage him both privately and in the presence of others. Recognize the weighty responsibility God has placed upon him and cheerfully follow his leadership. Don't always correct him over the minor details. It might not bother you, but it is going to kill him!
I heard about a shirt that said, "If a man speaks in the forest and there is no one to hear him will he still be wrong?"
I see it in so many men. Their effort is rarely appreciated. Some husbands can never do anything right in the eyes of their wives and sometimes their daughters who are getting their cues from mom. And when they do something, it's the, "What took you so long to trim the bushes" or "What about the other things that need to be done" or "That paint job looks nothing like the house next door." And maybe that's why (a complaint I hear) your husband does more for the neighbors than he does at home. Often it's because they are giving him the praise his heart so desperate craves that his own home never delivers.
Ladies, I admit we are wimps in this area. Yes we are! You ever seen us when we're sick? We simply want to be the "White Knight" in your eyes. We simply want to believe that maybe just in your eyes we are most athletic, strongest, godly, bravest, intelligent, handsome man that you know. And even though we know it not entirely true, we just want to believe at least you see us that way.
Guys are creators. We are made in the image of God. When we build or fix or tend to a project we like to sit back and admire the works, like God did on the seventh day. Most often our wives never even notice.
We can spend all kinds of money and travel to different states just to shoot that trophy animal. We sell the meat, but proudly mount the head in a prominent place just to hear those four words. "Did you shoot that?"
Right or wrong ladies, husbands interpret life through the respect grid. Respect is often the simple difference between drawing your husband closer or pushing him further away. He often doesn't notice your loving heart; he just sees your disrespectful countenance and hears your disrespectful words. Translated, by criticizing and complaining you will break his spirit and often not get the love you desire.1 Peter 3 teaches that. "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior" (1 Pet. 3:1-2).
Ladies, your submission is not submission if it's not done with respect (smirks, rolling of the eyes, grumpy spirit). Just as husbands are commanded to love their wives even when their wives are unlovable, wives are commanded to respect their husbands even when it's tough to respect them. If you need a biblical example, check out Abigail and how she respected her foolish husband Nabal (1 Sam. 25).God's commands are never conditional. And if both the Christian husband and wife can do their job, they will see a change in their marriage. If not, it will continue to spiral out of control.
Love and respect. We learn our partner's needs and by God's grace we meet them. Men receive the respect and know deep down inside they are unworthy of it. They begin to see it as Christ's shining His goodness through their wives. They praise God and love their wives more. And wives receive their husbands love. They know by nature their husbands are selfish individuals and don't act this way. So when their husbands act like Christ, they praise God for His work in their lives and find it natural to respect the man God provided for them.