Imagine with me, if you will, that we are leafing through a couple’s photo album. Early in the collection we see pictures of them while they are dating, during the period of his wooing. What a wonderful collection of pictures of the two of them with such happy faces. The next series of photographs are of their wedding and honeymoon. They vividly express images of such a happy couple. The smiles on their faces tell their amazing story of love and joy.
Now we page to the back of the album. Here we see quite a different scene. There is a long conference table with the couple sitting across from each other beside their respective attorneys. There are reflections of disgust, hatred and abhorrence written all over their faces.
The story of their marriage album is such a common occurrence in our “advanced” day. If fact, we are told that over half of all marriages – most of which began with bliss – end in gut-wrenching sadness. Did you ever ask yourself how the marriage albums go from delight to grief, from love to disgust?
Most marriages of our day are entered voluntarily. Many are the product of a woman being tenderly, lovingly and thoughtfully wooed and won. She is the focus of his attentive care. The woman standing beside the vowing groom is delighted to be there. So, how does the average couple get from the most wonderful day of their lives (their wedding day) to the hardest day of the lives (the divorce court)? More pointedly, since this is a series directed toward husbands, how does a woman go from being thrilled with the love of her life to despising the man on whom she is now having papers served?
One thing we know: this does not happen overnight. Rarely is a marriage over the day after the wedding, or a week after the honeymoon. It is usually a prolonged, slow death of love. Over the years it is a micro-demise, the minutest of day-by-day decline, which responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the husband. After all, in most husband-wife relationships, it is the husband who was the pursuer, the initiator, the wooer, the suitor, the courter, and often it his neglected duties as husband that lead to this slow death. He had made her believe that she was special and important to him, but over time, she was left to feel neglected, unimportant, valueless, meaningless, and unloved. Be assured that the husband’s love needs to be as steadfast, proactive and aggressive as when he was the fiancé, if not more so.
How many men, having won the attention, affection and hand of the woman of their pursuit, have, day-by-day, relaxed their action-of-love, consciously or unconsciously assuming that, since they had already won their prize, their labor-of-love was essentially over, or at least diminished?
Now granted, in the early stages of male/female relationships, the Creator has afforded a certain excitement and euphoria – nearly pharmaceutical in nature. This very fact means that the man’s greatest work actually lies ahead of the wedding day. What relied in part so easily on feeling, emotion, excitement, sensation and passion must of necessity be more-and-more demonstrated by the deliberate, thoughtful, concrete choices of active love.
God is the Initiator and Sustainer of love toward us (“we love Him because He first loved us,” I John 4:19), and we husbands have the honored privilege of learning the lesson of a lifetime, being His channel of divine love to our wives, “even as also Christ loved the ecclesia” (Ephesians 5:25).
Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)