Summary: 57th message from Ephesians series continuing a discussion of marriage.
Love and Respect in Marriage
Interspersed in this practical section dealing with life and relationships are some of the most significant truths relating to Christ's love for and connection to the church found in the Bible.
This oneness is the core of marriage.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Eph 5:31
Two weeks ago we explored the three foundation stones for marriage. Leave-Cleave-Become one. Exclusiveness, faithfulness, oneness
Marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Exclusiveness, faithfulness, oneness.
Paul considered that unity with Christ a great mystery just as unity in marriage. Until the complete realization of the spiritual oneness with Christ we have the picture in marriage.
In verse 33 Paul summarizes the relationship between husband and wife to two principles.
The practice of these principles facilitates the ongoing development of oneness.
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. Ephesians 5:33 (NASB)
It all boils down to husbands demonstrating genuine love toward their wife and wives showing respect toward their husband. There are differences in the basic needs of men and women.
Both men and women appreciate both love and respect but each one has a primary longing for one or the other.
Women are relationally wired and long for unconditional love and acceptance. Two women meet. What generally opens their conversation? How are you?
Men are functionally wired and long for respect for who they are apart from performance.
Two men meet. What generally opens their conversation? What do you do?
I want to unpack this verse a bit more and then try to practically apply it. It is a universal instruction.
“each individual among you”
In other words, EVERY husband. What is every husband supposed to do? Love his own wife as himself. We addressed this earlier. Paul offered two standards for measuring this love.
Love as Christ loves the church
Love as your own body.
God built women as responders. Women respond to demonstrations of love. Not all women interpret the same actions as demonstrations of love. Buying my wife a new kitchen gadget that was really intended for me to use doesn’t quite speak love.
Everyone has a different love language; things that communicate love to them.
Physical Touch - Words of affirmation - Acts of service - Quality time - Gifts
Paul includes nourishing, cherishing, giving up self as markers of genuine love. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 supplies a whole check list describing the character of genuine love.
God built men as initiators. God designed men to take a challenge, protect, nurture, create, fix, solve, be the knight in shining armor. Men are motivated by affirmation, respect and appreciation. Paul instructs the wife then to make sure she “shows respect” to her husband.
Why do husbands like fixing other people’s stuff? The most they can hope for at home is, “It’s about time?”
The word respect means to reverence or fear, be in awe of. It is the same word used in relation to our response to God. Maybe someone should study if there is a respect language among men. Just as everyone interprets different actions as love perhaps we interpret different actions as respect. For sure it has to do with attitude and tone and appreciation and recognition of worth.
Why do you think men leave their wife for another woman less attractive than their own?
It is not primarily about sex. It is about respect. He found someone that told him how wonderful and special he was.
This subject of love and respect is thoroughly covered in the book by that title by Emerson Eggerichs
Some of the following insight comes from His book.
The practice of these two principles perpetuates a cycle in marriage.
The cycle is self-explanatory. His love energizes her respect. Her respect energizes his love.
Because of a formidable beast that roams about in the soul of every person, this cycle gets diverted and turns an energizing cycle into a crazy cycle.
Until someone corrals the beast, this cycle will self-perpetuate until it eventually destroys all sense of oneness and eventually the marriage. Either spouse could choose to break the crazy cycle and initiate the energizing cycle by showing love or respect. Given the nature of the beast and the pattern of running the crazy cycle, the desired response is NOT always guaranteed even if love or respect is shown.
At that point it is our responsibility before God to love or respect regardless. The passage does not instruct husbands to love their wife only when they show respect. The passage does not instruct wives to respect their husbands only when they show love.