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On Having a Valentine Marriage


Marriage: bliss or bother? It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but the “bother” can really be a bummer!

God tells us how He makes man and woman and what He has in mind for their relationship when they try out for the leading roles of husband and wife. He locks them in a mini-lab with their toothbrushes in the same glass. The lab is designed for us to learn how to agape each other—tough at times, impossible at times, and fun at times. The trick is trusting Jesus to “life out” our husband/wife roles through us—the blissful, the bothersome, and the occasional bombings. But if it were always easy, we’d never be changed into His likeness through our experiences in the lab.

If you’re in doubt about how something should work, you check the manufacturer’s instructions. One of the bombing zones in marriage appears under the word, superior. Gen. 5:2 says, “He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Adam in the day when they were created. Two Adams! Adam means “man.” God made a female man to marry the mailman (guffaw). You say, “Well, that may be a great little item for the Bible Trivia game, but what’s that have to do with discerning if one of these two people is superior?” God implied equality here. Man and woman are equal in value, but they have different roles to play.

Equality. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds…” (Gen 1:27-28). God gave marching orders to “them,” not to “him.” Try to be fruitful and multiply by yourself, guy. There’s no evidence that the first man was out in front receiving the orders while the second “man” was peeking through the bushes saying, “What’d He say? Ask Him to speak up.” That’s evidence of the same rank, isn’t it?

We get way off base when we isolate Ephesians 5:22: Wives be subject to your own husbands . . .. The statement is a continuation of 5:21: Be subject to one another . . .. So the wife subjects herself to her husband’s authority, and that isn’t easy to do (a real bother!). But who does the husband subject himself to? Eph. 5:25 tells us: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. That means He died for her. Neither wife nor husband can fulfill those instructions in their own power or with their own wisdom. Only Christ can sail such potentially troubled waters.

Let’s examine our basic gender needs. The genders are unique, with one exception. Both men and women have a deep need to know Jesus Christ, God in an earthsuit; not know about Him, but know Him. Through life’s struggles, we’ve come to know Jesus on a deeply personal level. This is not mere information about Jesus; information won’t suffice when deep waters threaten all you hold dear. God doesn’t say, “If you pass through deep waters,” but “when you pass through deep waters” (Isa. 43:2). As husband and wife for decades, we don’t appeal to you from an ivory tower. We’ve had and continue to have “trials and tribulations,” but in and through them we’ve come to know God and His sufficiency. As we know Him, we become more aware of His presence in us and better able to allow Him to live His agape life through us—the key to making every day Valentine’s Day.

But when we move over into the soul—mind, will, and emotions—we’re different. The husband is loath to surrender and resists attempts to be drawn into vulnerable positions. The woman strives for interdependence, and she keeps evaluating the marriage relationship for closeness, needing each other, deep communication, and careful consideration of how these two lives— once lived in single-centeredness—can now be formed into one life. (That doesn’t spell independence, and it’s as incomprehensible as speaking a foreign language to a lot of males.)

Emotionally, a husband needs to feel that his wife is proud of him; he needs his wife’s praise. He may not deserve that praise; he may not perform “praiseworthy” feats, but that’s the rule: Praise your husband. He needs your praise. That will make him feel good.

She, on the other hand, needs to feel loved—Tender, Loving Care.

TENDER communicates gentleness. A tender touch, definitely, but a husband’s eyes can communicate hostility or frustration and I think all wives would agree that a man’s voice sometimes sounds gruff even when that’s not his intent.

LOVING means he’s making an effort to understand her thoughts and her behavior. It also means recognizing her ability to do certain things and encouraging her to do them, being interested in her activities. It means recognizing that she’s uncomfortable in doing certain things and not expecting her to do them. It also means remembering special days and being a part of difficult days with a phone call, an invitation to lunch, etc.

CARE communicates respect. It means treating your wife as a person worthy of dignity and honor. It means that others, especially family and children, see you watching over your wife that way. Care also provides security and protection—the kind of protection a person would give to a precious gem. If a husband does those things, his wife will feel so special and secure.

In the mind area, a man needs to believe that he is the leader in the relationship. That’s certainly not to say that he has all of the characteristics of a marvelous leader.

“It’s a need that I have, and when Anabel follows my leading, it gives me a sense of importance in our relationship; it helps me believe I’m needed, that she can’t get along as well without me as with me. I need to believe I’m necessary. This enhances my sense of self-worth in our relationship.”

“As a wife I can understand this because I have similar needs. I need a sense of competency, of self-worth, of importance in our relationship. I need to believe I’m needed, and I’ll have all those needs met if you will just listen to me.”

“You’ll get all of that if I listen to you? On a one to ten scale, put a number on how important my listening is.”

“Why, it’s a ten.”

“Man, I don’t understand how a wife gets that much mileage out of her husband’s listening ear! And I believe most men are as clueless as I am about what makes a woman tick. Men’s eyes meet and they shrug. But, guys, we’ve got to humble ourselves, trusting Christ to live through us to listen to our wives, if we’re ever going to learn how to make marriage work. The irony is that they can read us like the morning paper! But, by listening to our wives we can learn how to love them like Jesus loves His wife, the Church. That word love means far more than ‘warm fuzzies.’ Women spell love L-I-S-T-E-N!”

Now in the physical area, a husband needs a sexual relationship with his wife, and a wife enjoys this as well, but there are times when she doesn’t want that at all. She just wants to be held. Our husband’s embrace makes us feel secure. If every time a wife snuggles or sits close to her hubby or if every time he holds her, he guides her toward the bedroom, she gets the impression that he’s not sensitive to her needs; he’s interested in satisfying his needs. Women frequently say, “The only time my husband pays attention to me is when he wants sex.”

The three male needs, praise, authority, and a sexual relationship, all have to do with male status, with seeing himself as powerful and retaining control as the goal. The needs of the woman, on the other hand, deal with intimacy in the relationship, communicating, sharing, becoming one. Women are people-centered, relationship-centered, heart-centered creatures. That’s the way it is from the very beginning…little boys play competitive games, calling attention to their strengths; little girls walk around holding hands and talking, forming relationships. We’re still doing the same thing as adults.

Marriage can be more bliss than bother when we turn that relationship over to Christ and confess, “I can’t be all that I need to be—I’ve finally seen that. Lord, You can create something beautiful out of our marriage. I ask You to do that, and Lord, use me. I’d like to have a Valentine marriage in July and November and all the other months, too. Thanks.”

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.