Your wife is a reflection of you, your skill, and your leadership style. Though she is responsible for her Christian maturity, don’t underestimate your influence on her life.
Your assessment of her is, to some degree, an evaluation of your leadership. How are you doing at learning, leading, and loving your wife? As you read this article, guard your heart against focusing on her (Matthew 7:3-5). And may she guard her heart against concentrating on you.
Husband, how long have you been married to your wife? Whatever that number is, it represents the number of years you have had to care for her. Below are nine ideas, which is not an exhaustive list of ideas by any means.
Give your wife a numerical rating from 1 to 10, with one being “a lot of work ahead” and ten being “the husband is on the job and getting things done.”
You may want to read:
- One Essential Quality Of an Effective Wife
- Practical Thoughts On Leading Your Husband From Behind
- Take the Manly Man Test
If your marriage is less than two years, you get a “hall pass” because your relationship is just underway. However, don’t let the grass grow under your feet. There is no time like the present to get to work on your marriage.
- Her passion for Christ has increased–she is more transparent today than when you first married her.
- She regularly confesses her sin to you–she is quick to seek forgiveness for her sins.
- Her theological grasp of the Bible has increased–her desire to share the gospel with others continues to grow.
- She is less fearful, anxious, and insecure–she worries less and has fewer doubts and regrets.
- She is more content in Christ–she is at peace with where God has her.
- She quickly processes disappointment through the lens of God’s sovereignty–she is more kind, loving, and gracious to others.
- She is eager to share with you what God is doing in her life–she is eager to share with you and others where she is messing up.
- She is eager to seek out your care and advice–she is eager to support you in your endeavors.
- She loves people and biblically cares for them–she is not critical and cynical, but faithful and hopeful.
It is possible a husband could read the list and get angry at his wife. Husband, I would not recommend that response. If she ranks low and you are tempted to choose anger as a response, my appeal would be to make a sober assessment of you husbandry skills before you jump too quickly at what you believe to be her failures.
I was counseling a husband who would not stop talking negatively about his wife. It did not matter how many times I corrected him; he had one default: she was wrong, and he was right.
As I told him, the word husband means “husbandry,” which means a “tiller of the soil.” In modern parlance, the husband is a gardener, which implies the wife is the garden that he gardens.
If you want to know how well a gardener takes care of his garden, don’t ask him; assess his garden. (You just assessed yourself with the list above.) His garden will quickly reveal his gardening competencies. Yelling at your garden will not make things better.
I appealed to the angry husband to think before he gets mad at his garden. I asked him to take some time to reflect on his competencies and passions regarding the art and skill of husbandry (gardening). Frustration with your garden is a call to get your heart right with God first.
If this is you, find a friend who will love you enough to speak the truth to you. If “Farmer Brown” had a bad crop this year, humility would say he must start with an honest assessment regarding his role in the process. Maybe he does not know how to tend a garden.
- Humility would motivate him to examine his affection for the “art of husbandry.”
- Humility would motivate him to examine his commitment to tend his “garden.”
- Humility would motivate him to not curse the garden for having weeds.
- Humility would motivate him to redouble his efforts, trusting Sovereign God for a good crop.
The humble husband recognizes the rating he gave his wife and sees it as a score he gave to himself. His evaluation of her is a reflection of his skill. Though the garden has a responsibility to respond to the gardener, this article is not about that.
The Blame Game
To blame the other person is as easy as saying, “that woman whom you gave to be with me,” is primarily responsible for this mess (Genesis 3:12). If that is where your mind goes, there is no hope until you change your mind (repent).
Husband, it does not matter who fired the first shot or who has sinned the most. You are the leader! You must lead, and there is no better place to lead than to lead in personal, God-centered, gospel-motivated humility.
Start with your sin. Pursue God with unconditional surrender. Seek His assistance to restore your relationship with Him before you try to restore your relationship with your wife. If you’re not right with her, you’re not right with Him (1 Peter 3:7).
If you do not do this, there is no way your marriage can reflect Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:25-27). This “log in my eye process” (Matthew 7:3-5) also goes for the wife. Once the finger begins to point to the other person in the marriage, there is no help or hope.
Finger pointing, without honest penitent self-assessment, is self-righteousness on full display (Luke 18:11). There is no grace for that attitude because Christ did not come for the righteous (Mark 2:17). You have to know and admit your sickness to receive His help (1 John 1:9).
Maybe you have stopped pointing your finger at your spouse. Perhaps you recognize her problems and realize how change starts with you. And maybe this idea of “husbandry” is overwhelming to you. Do not despair. God did not leave you alone to figure out how to have a mature marriage. God has given you what you need to help you in your relationship with your wife.
- You have the Spirit of God.
- You have the Word of God.
- You have the community of God.
How are you doing in these areas? Would it surprise you to know that many people with problems are not regularly accessing these “means of grace” that God offers to His children?
A “means of grace” is a way (means) to obtain God’s undeserved favor (grace). Think of “means” like a “vehicle” that takes you from point A to point B. That is what the Spirit, His Word, and His community can do for you.
These means can take you from where you are in your marriage, to a God-blessed place in your marriage. The question is whether or not you will choose to commit to these means of grace. Will you?
Call to Action
- Are you regularly seeking the Spirit of God to guide you into all truth (John 16:13)?
- How much time do you spend in God’s Word, asking the Spirit to change you?
- What does Bible reading look like for you? How diligent are you in the Word of God?
- Are you transparent with at least one other person who is competent enough to help you and your wife?
- Are you accessing the community of faith to help you change?
The way, degree, and commitment to these “means of grace” will not only reveal your desire for God to change you but your hope and passion for your marriage. Passivity will not change you. God calls you to active obedience: you change first and then work on your marriage.
When you read the title of this article, did you think it was about your wife? Your wife is a reflection of you and your leadership style. The grade you gave your wife is the same grade that reflects how you have led her.
Also published on Medium.