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Paul J. Bucknell
A husband more than likely will find times when his wife is unresponsive and cold. She might be accusatory or just depressed. Men need to understand that woman's systems run differently than their own. More than likely, this will be but a temporary transition time. How temporary? Who knows? But men need to fight their fears, feelings, and frustrations.
Fears about the relationship should cause enough alarm that the husband will lovingly enquire if her former affections are cast upon another person. Once this is eliminated, then one needs to emphasize to his spouse that their marriage is covenant based not feeling based. He will keep loving her awaiting her affections to return.
His own feelings can be hurt. He might hear words that sting. How would you deal with words like, "I don't love you anymore." What she means, more than likely, is "I don't have warm feelings for you anymore." It is okay to grieve, but we need to carefully monitor and control our thoughts. We might hear the voice, "Well, that is what you get!" This is of the devil not the Spirit. The devil will want you to give up on the marriage. Instead you think biblically.
- This is my high calling to love her even when it is difficult. This is when she most needs my faithfulness.
- No doubt other evil thoughts might also come to our minds. We must discern them and come back each time with confirmation of our total love and allegiance to our wives no matter what we face. In fact, we should share of our persistent love, care and affection for our wives.
Frustrations are of two kinds. There is first of all the emotional frustration of "Why is she like this again!" It is possible this is something she regularly goes through during different cycles of life. Maybe a certain problem in her own family pops up during a certain time of year, a fluctuation of hormones or plain old exhaustion. Love is patient. Love is enduring. We might be frustrated, but we can remind ourselves that this is our great opportunity to show her our true love that might not otherwise be easily seen. Yes, it is a testing of our faithfulness to the Lord.
- Love ... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7).
It can also be a time of physical or sexual frustration. Men might express their desires, show special acts of kindness, but all seem to be wasted. Not so. This is a time of testing our fidelity. Will we run off with fantasies, begin to think about how other women are better, desire another woman, get involved into pornography, give up on our wives, etc.? This time becomes an honorable testing to show your true commitment to God and your wife. At this point, your warm feelings might have disappeared too! But that does not matter. It is temporary. What is more important is that you take practical steps to love your wife like the Lord has loved you. Wait for her. Tenderly treat her as if she is not depriving you. Remember that the marriage is based on a commitment before God. Don't veer from this.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; because we are members of His body. (Ephesians 5:28-30)
Love as Christ loved the church. The church ought to be caught up in affection for her Lord, but she oftentimes is worldly. There is no affection. The Lord never stops His love for His real people. Love endures. There sadly are consequences but they come from the Lord and can hopefully be used to restore things as they should be. The bottom line, however, is that the husband's love must be passionately fervent. He needs to love as His Savior loves. He must realize that as Ephesians 5 teaches, it is within this context that certain wrinkles from the life of his wife can be removed. This process is not always easy. Just think if you were at the bottom of the hot iron!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27,).
Men can get easily irritated and quickly switch their minds elsewhere while the wife is more relationship oriented. Men can, with some pain and regret, switch 'channels.' This is a gift in that he is more objective but it can bring disaster if he uses it wrongly by switching his affections to another besides his wife. Men can fall here amazingly quick. Wives need to be sensitive to this. Of course in this process he justifies himself one way or the other. All such 'focused' sexual desires in his heart for those other than his wife are considered lust. They are considered unfaithfulness even if they are only in his mind. Heart adultery is as horrible as social adultery.
But I (Jesus) say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28).
In order to remove the distance between a couple, the husband needs to focus on constantly loving her while his wife learns how to have a submissive and gentle heart.
A man has to carefully monitor his mind less he gives his affection to others rather than his wife. Wives are great at sensing when men have 'refocused.' This brings the marriage into a very unstable time. We are not discussing here the ins and outs of adultery. It is mentioned here because loss of affection can quickly denigrate into adultery. If a man is in any stage of adultery, he needs to repent and confess his sin. He needs to apologize to his wife because he has withheld himself from her. It will hurt her but at least you are restoring the relationship. Satan uses hidden things to do more wicked things. Don't try as many counselors suggest keeping the thing hidden. It doesn't work.
I apologize lately for being rather distant. I have not cared for you as I should have. I realize I have fallen short of my calling as a husband to love you as Christ loved the church. I would like to share with you the ways that I have not been faithful to you as your husband. After listening and explaining anything that you want, I will ask you to forgive me. My goal is to set my whole heart on you. I want that intimacy that our oneness affords us. I have kept that from happening lately. I can think of several areas in which I have fallen short.
This reveals to God and your wife that you are sincere. You might need to have her be accountable to you in one or more areas. I knew one husband who told his wife that when he was far away in a hotel to ask him on the phone what he was watching. By doing this, he would make himself accountable to her and ask her for help.
A husband must focus on the consistency of his love even when she does not deserve it. She might vehemently accuse him or coldly shun him. His purpose is for greater intimacy and holds out by using his extra energies to lavish her in his love.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." (1 John 3:16)
Love is based on observable acts, just like God's love is shown in Christ dying for us. It is evident and practical and so we can appropriately relate how we do love our wives, when they, for one or more reasons, sense that we or no one loves them.
So one way that we can encourage our wivesis to relate ways that we show our love, not in a bragging way but just little reminders of small incidences that express our love and commitment to their life (and marriage). She might be having some doubts about you valuing her or if anyone loves her. She migth be trying to pull a lot of her needed affirmation from you. Remind her how God loves her too. Again, be practical on how God did this or that for her or the family. God's love is an objective love. God loved us.
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