Cherishing Your Bride
The Lord has been challenging me lately to become more intentional in cherishing my wife. It is easy for our wives to feel undervalued because we can so easily take them for granted.
Our wives are like beautiful orchids that demand tender care and wise attention. Therefore, we must proactively work to ensure that they flourish and blossom spiritually, emotionally and physically. Here are a few thoughts I have worked on over the past several weeks on what it looks like to cherish your bride. You may not have time right now to read all of this, but please print it off and put it in your Bible and commit yourself to read and think through this article some time over the next week. Don’t be overwhelmed by this pastoral letter. Ask the Lord to show you one way that you can cherish your wife better.
Ephesians 5:29 calls us who are husbands to cherish our brides. In Greek, the word ‘cherish’ literally means “to keep warm, to cherish with tender love, to foster with tender care, to give your wife reason to hope.” This notion of the tenderest care is a metaphor the Apostle Paul uses for pastoral ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8: “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”
Your wives will be cherished when:
1. You actively seek to cultivate her spiritual well-being and health by…
a. Praying with and for her. Prayer is the most intimate bond of your spiritual union. Do you daily and specifically pray for your wife? What about using the Lord’s Prayer as a grid for your prayers for her? When you do, you cherish her as the Lord does His bride, the church. Hebrews 7:25 says that he ever lives to make intercession for us. You are to bring her to the throne of grace. Do you regularly pray with and for her?
b. Setting an example by consistently walking with God. Whatever virtue that you want to see in your wife and in your children must first be seen in your own life. Do you, with some regularity, talk with her about what you are learning from your own study and reading of God’s Word? Do you ever read the Scriptures together? Are you growing in your ability to converse with her of the deepest, most intimate concerns and anxieties of your soul?
c. Encouraging her to discover and use her spiritual gifts and unique strengths. Do you know what she enjoys and does well? Are you encouraging her to develop and use the strengths she possesses to serve Christ and his church? Or do you honestly feel threatened by her abilities and successes?
2. You actively cultivate her emotional well-being and health by…
a. Taking the initiative to know, understand and communicate with your bride (1 Peter 3:7). We must take the initiative to ask thoughtful questions and listen. Honestly, I have been convicted lately that I live more by monologue than dialogue (Proverbs 18:13). This work of communication is messy and takes time and effort, but we will be wonderfully rewarded. Can you answer the following questions: What is your wife’s greatest concern right now? What is her greatest need? What is her greatest dream for the future? What causes her pain?
b. Guarding and protecting her from your passions and from her emotions. Do you exercise the greatest of care in guarding the purity of your relationship by making her to sole object of your stimulation and sexual excitement? Do you seek to shield your wife from unnecessary emotional pressure? Do you seek to guard her from those things to which she is especially vulnerable? The Apostle Peter reminds us husbands that we are to live with our wives in a understanding/considerate way and grant her honor…so that our prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
c. Resolving conflict and discord biblically. Do you take the initiative to resolve conflict and heal discord in your marriage relationship and in your family? Or do you sulk off into a corner with your self-pity?
d. Making decisions. You make sound and timely decisions after hearing her point of view and only after coming to a mutual agreement. Only on rare occasions should husbands use the trump card in the decision-making process. Some of us men need to pray that God will instill in us a greater boldness in making decisions and not be immobilized by our fear of making a mistake. Others of us need to slow down and not be so impulsive and quick in our decision-making.
3. You actively cultivate her physical well-being and health by…
a. Non-sexual touching with words of tenderness and affection. If you haven’t already, let me encourage all of you husbands to develop some terms of endearment for your wife. If you read the Song of Solomon, you will note that one of his terms of endearment was: “O most beautiful among women.” The book of Proverbs supplies us with another: “The wife of my youth in whom I delight.” Better yet, come up with your own… words that are strictly between you and her that immediately let her know how much you love her.
b. Working diligently to provide financially for her and your family’s needs (1 Timothy 5:8).
John Piper sums up cherishing under the broad category of servant leadership:
“When a man senses a primary God-given responsibility for…
the spiritual life of the family
gathering the family for devotions,
taking them to church,
calling for prayer at meals,
for the discipline and education of the children,
the stewardship of money,
the provision of food,
the safety of the home,
the healing of discord,
he is not being authoritarian or autocratic or domineering or bossy or oppressive or abusive. It is simply servant leadership. And I have never met a wife who is sorry she is married to a man like that. Because when God designs a thing he designs it for his glory and our good.”
Wives, please make sure that your expectations for your husbands are realistic and grounded in God’s Word. You must continually look to Jesus to meet the deepest needs and longings of your heart. Your husband has feet of clay and will disappoint you. At those moments, look to your perfect bridegroom as ask Him for grace to love well your imperfect husband. Also, pray that the Lord will sensitize and empower your husband to love you well.
Husbands, ask the Lord how He wants you to intentionally cultivate your relationship with your wife. We think about ways to prosper our businesses and careers. Our marriages are not any different. A good marriage takes time and lots of effort.
Chuck Swindoll concludes: “A good marriage takes longer than you planned… costs more than you figured… is messier than you anticipated… and requires greater determination than you expected.”