“The aged women likewise that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
To love their husbands
At first glance, this may seem like an unusual statement. Why would a woman who is married need to be taught how to love her husband? When Paul wrote this letter to Titus, women were being saved out of pagan religions, which had very different teachings about marriage and family life. They knew nothing about real love. They needed the godly teaching and example of older Christian women in this area too.
The same is still true today. There are forces at work in today’s world that undermine this very basic part of family life. A new generation of young women have been brought up in a society which touts feminism and humanism and belittles Biblical standards for men and women.
Women are being told that THEY are more important, that THEIR interests or desires come first, that they must seek what makes THEM happy first. If you are an older Christian woman, you have a mandate from God to be a part of teaching our young ladies to heed God’s Word instead of listening to the philosophy of the world.
I am sure you have heard others speak of “falling in love” as if some irresistible force overpowered them, and they had no choice but to surrender. But that is not what the Bible teaches us about love. According to God’s Word, love is a choice. We can choose to love a person or choose not to love them. Because of our human sin nature, we naturally love ourselves, and usually do not choose to love others unless it will benefit us.
Choosing to love someone does not come naturally or automatically. The love a wife is to have for her husband is therefore not based on a husband’s worthiness but on the command of God and is extended by a wife’s obedience.
In other words, she chooses to love her husband, not because he deserves it, or because she feels like doing it, but because she wants to please the Lord by her obedience to His commands. If you hear a woman say, “I don’t love my husband anymore” you know that is a choice she has made. At one time she chose to love him, but now she has chosen not to.
So what exactly are we to teach a young woman about loving her husband? Basically, there are three types of love—romantic, sexual love; friendship love; and sacrificial love. All three types are important in a marriage, all three need to be cultivated in our lives, and all three need to be taught to the younger women that we are mentoring. If any one of the three is missing in a marriage, there will be problems.
Romantic, sexual love is the one emphasized primarily by the world we live in. But what the Bible teaches about this kind of love is very different than the lust emphasized in the world. In the Bible, God speaks of it as being a one-flesh love. This includes not only the physical union but also the emotional bond that grows between a husband and a wife as they share their heart with each other.
Sacrificial love involves denying yourself and serving others. It is a love that gives to others even if nothing is given back. God describes this love for us in First Corinthians chapter 13.
Friendship love is an affectionate love which involves tenderness, fondness and sweetness. It describes the emotional dimension of love—the love between very close friends—and speaks of enjoyment and respect in a relationship.
As you look at these three types of love, ask yourself, “Are any of these three missing in my marriage?” Generally speaking, the one most often missing in a marriage is friendship love. Many women do not respect their husband or have tender feelings towards them. In fact, they may consider him a jerk. Yet that does not hinder them from continuing to wash his clothes, cook his meals, clean his house, and share his bed (they consider this a duty). The sacrificial love is there, but the friendship love is not.
Since love is a choice, if love is missing or diminished in a marriage, the first place to start is with a heart examination. Where sin is present, love cannot survive. Anger, bitterness, criticism, pride, selfishness, fear, laziness—all these destroy love. God’s kind of love cannot survive in a heart that harbors sin; therefore if sin is present it needs to be dealt with.
Remember that your husband is a sinner just like you are—a sinner in need of God’s grace and mercy. This helps to do away with an intolerant, critical, or demanding attitude you may be tempted to have when considering his faults. Your husband has areas in his life he needs to change, but so do you. Always remember that you cannot change your husband—that is God’s department. You need to focus, not on him, but on the areas God is dealing with YOU about in your own life.
Next you need to conduct a thoughts examination. Consider this picture: your hubby comes home from work, heads to his favorite chair, and pulls the newspaper up in front of his face. What sort of thoughts run through your mind? Are they kind and loving thoughts? Or thoughts that you dare not repeat?
Sometimes you face situations where you are tempted to think harsh and critical thoughts. Sometimes as a wife you are more inclined to concentrate on what your husband is doing wrong rather than what he is doing right. It is easier to see his deficiencies than it is to see his good qualities. But if you dwell on these wrong thoughts, it will only cause your affection for your husband to wane.
Be careful not to listen to the world’s thoughts. Women’s magazines are filled with worldly wisdom, directly opposite of godly wisdom. Unsaved friends will give you worldly advise, as well as the talk shows on TV. Your best choice of reading material is the Word of God! You will never go wrong there. There are many good Christian books written on marriage that will help direct you in the right way.
Beware of any little thought or attitude that might grow into a root of bitterness. If you are not careful, that bitterness will grow into full-blown contempt, disdain, and disrespect.
Watch your thoughts—they become words. Watch your words—they become actions. Watch your actions—they become habits. Watch your habits—they become character.
Choose instead to focus on the good qualities your husband possesses (Philippians 4:8). What are the things that first attracted you to him? As you think on these things, you will be amazed at how many more good qualities are there, but you have been failing to see them because you have been blinded by your critical thoughts. As you begin to replace your sinful thoughts with right ones, it will cause your tender feelings for your husband to grow once again.
Thirdly, you need a behavior examination. What actions toward your husband need to be changed? What can you do to let your husband know that you love him?
One important thing you can do is prize him. The Bible makes it very clear that, after your relationship with God, your relationship with your husband is to be your highest priority (Genesis 2:18, First Corinthians 11:8-9). He is to be first—before your children, before your mother, before your friends, etc. You need to let him know often how much he means to you and how glad you are that he is married to you.
Look for creative ways to let him know—through cards, letters, phone calls (if he is away), little notes tucked in his briefcase or lunch. Pray for your husband every day and ask the Lord to increase your love for him.
Spend time with him. Take a walk together and hold his hand. Seek his opinion first. Find things that the two of you can do together, alone, without the children. Learn to listen to him, to share your heart with him. Find out what he likes and do everything you can to fulfill his desires.
How often do you “fix yourself up” just for your husband? The temptation with most stay-at-home Moms is to go for the comfortable look. But how appealing do you think it is to your husband to come home after being out in the world all day with women who are dressed up to attract attention, and you meet him at the door in your robe or your holey housedress that has spit-up from the baby all down the front?
Another important thing you can do is cherish him. To cherish means to hold dear, to care for tenderly or to nurture, to cling fondly to, to treat as precious. Does this describe your relationship with your husband? If not, look for some ways you can change that.
How can you make your husband feel cherished? It might be that special smile or subtle wink when you catch his eye in public. It might be through the small surprises you do for him regularly.
It might be that special way you pack his lunch each day, or the way you take care of him when he is sick, or that special goodnight kiss you give him each night. It might be cutting the grass for him if you know he is having a busy week. Let your actions show to your husband that you cherish him.
Another important thing you can do is enjoy him. Your husband should be your best friend, and your relationship with him should be characterized by joy, delight, and great happiness. You should prefer his company above all others.
Make it a priority to spend time alone with him often, even if it is just to go somewhere quiet and talk. Plan a surprise weekend away for just the two of you. You should find genuine pleasure in serving him and take an interest in what he enjoys. Work hard at being a good friend to him.
If you are an older woman, I hope you are seeking to live out your marriage and your life in such a way that your example motivates and instructs the younger women you are mentoring. A large part of the instruction in Titus chapter 2 is about the conduct and behavior of the older woman. Paul assumed that those who are older in the Lord are living their life in a godly manner and are seeking to teach their younger sisters in Christ the good things of the Christian life—like how to love a husband.
Have you learned a few lessons the hard way, or from other godly women? Have you discovered a few things that work that help you to live out your wifely role as described in God’s Word? Then share those principles with others. Pass on the Scriptures, the practical advice, tips and how-to’s that make for a more successful marriage.
Are you a mother or a mother-in-law? Never underestimate the many lessons your attitude and actions toward your husband are teaching those closest to you! Indeed, the family is the first and best place to teach your daughters and daughters-in-law about God’s kind of love. Be sure to share with them the many blessings that come from putting God’s Word to work in your marriage.
Beverly is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and Doug Hammett have been married for over 35 years. Since her father was a pastor and her husband was already a pastor when she married him, she is well acquainted with the blessings as well as the problems of the ministry! Bev’s favorite things to do are read and spend time with her family.
In Autumn of 2010, Doug stepped aside from his position as senior pastor at LVBC to reach and train men in Botswana and South Africa. Beverly continues to write for our ladies publication, giving her unique perspective of life in the ministry, and now life on the mission field. You can read more about their ministry here.