Marriage: Building Each Other Up

Many men say they want beautiful wives.

Few men understand how much the beauty of a wife depends upon her husband.

Worry, criticism, ‘helpful’ critique – all of these things tear down a wife. After a few years of nothing but fault-finding from her husband, she begins to show the signs of weariness, like a public building.

But welcoming love and encouragement builds up a wife. Pretty soon, she looks like an opulent palace.

Several years ago, I had a friend who was getting ready to marry a woman who had a bit of a checkered past. Her personality was, to be honest, abrasive. She was cantankerous and strong-willed, and I could not imagine how my very good friend thought they were suitable for a life-long partnership.

As they were courting each other, I worked up the courage to tell him about my concerns. He listened respectfully, and then responded with four simple words: ‘But I love her.’

At the time, I dismissed it as sentimental drivel. I wondered why he was so blinded by emotion that he couldn’t take my concerns seriously.

But over the years, those words – ‘But I love her’ – have been translated into a remarkable work of glory. In later years, when I met the happily married couple again, I noticed a wife whose character was still strong, but also full of gentleness and kindness. A bit of heaven itself appeared on her face.

How did it happen? Clearly, she had been transformed by the daily gift of her husband’s love.

When a husband loves his wife, as Christ loves the church, she becomes a beautiful creature. She is cleansed, by the washing of water with the word. She becomes spotless, holy and blameless without blemish. She comes to her husband in splendor. (Ephesians 5:26-27)

Men have been talking for centuries about changing society for the better. They’ve poured a vast amount of energy and countless time into the endeavor. The result: an explosion of technology, but little improvement in the level of happiness in our lives.

If only husbands would pour that amount of energy and time into their wives! Society would be transformed overnight – as marriages were transformed by the power of God into an image of divine beauty.

‘… In one day, in one hour everything could be arranged at once!

The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that’s the chief thing, and that’s everything; nothing else is wanted – you will find out at once how to arrange it all.’

– Dostoevsky

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