Are men and women basically alike, or is there something intrinsically different between the sexes?
“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
We can clearly see the physical differences between men and women, yet that is not where the uniqueness of each gender ends, and this explains in part why God’s commands to husband and wife as they relate to each other differ. Women are commanded to respect their husbands because this is a man’s God-given need from his wife. Husbands, on the other hand, are commanded to love their wives as they love themselves, because a woman’s single most important need is to be loved. This is not to say that women don’t need respect or that men don’t need love; of course they do. It is just that, based on how each gender is uniquely wired, God has designed spouses to fill their most prominent need. So what happens when a partner drops the ball?
A man’s primary need is to be respected by his wife. When she fails to relate to her husband in the way he needs, he is empty. He may conquer the world–he may indeed be exceedingly accomplished in the eyes of others–yet if she fails to appreciate who he is and does and respect him, he will feel himself a failure.
A woman’s primary need, however, is to be loved by her husband. He may provide for her financially and give her a good life; she may have her every other need met. Yet, if he fails to convince her she is the most beautiful woman in the world and the only one for him, she will be sad.
So, what if your husband doesn’t love you or your wife appreciate you as the Lord commands? Are you justified in searching elsewhere for your “soulmate”–for that perfect person who will fill the emptiness in you?
If you surveyed the general public, not to mention the plots of romantic movies and novels, you would see that the world at large tends to believe such behavior not only justified, but also almost one’s duty to self. But what is the truth–what does God say about this?
God is unequivocal about the sanctity of marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)
God honors marriage. He places no stipulations or restrictions upon it, and while He commands spouses to meet each other’s needs, a failure on their part does not justify infidelity on ours. It matters not, furthermore, whether we feel we married our “true love” or not, or, for that matter, whether there is any love involved whatsoever, as is frequently the case with arranged marriages. What matters in God’s eyes is that the person we are with is our legal, publicly recognized spouse.
For the married:
Help me treat my spouse as You command. Amen.
For the unmarried:
Give me wisdom to marry a person it will be easy to treat as You command.