When we examine the differences between men and women, perhaps the most poignant verse that helps us understand their differences is Ephesians 5:33. In this passage, Paul is instructing the church in how to submit to one another in love. He then transitions to addressing married couples:
“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Did you catch that? God doesn’t call wives to primarily love their husbands. Why? Because men and women have fundamentally different needs.
While women crave love primarily, men do not. Men desire and need respect. The struggle in marriage arises when we, as one spouse, try to speak to our partner in the language we know best. Women try to love their husbands, or husbands try to respect their wives. In this futile exercise, we’re actually missing our spouse’s greatest need.
While it’s true that men and women are different, there is good wrapped up in this truth. Together, married couples reflect more facets of God’s glory. They learn how to selflessly submit to and care for one another; in doing so, they bring God glory.
The first thing that men need, before even respect, is a vibrant relationship with God. In God, men find purpose, adventure, a worthwhile journey, and eternally-rewarding work. This takes so much pressure off of the wife, who is then free to come in and affirm her husband as he walks with the Lord.
Next time, we’ll examine what a wife needs most, and how her contributions reflect God’s nature.
What stands out to you most about Ephesians 5:33? Did you learn anything new about the design and responsibilities of married couples?
Dr. Derek Grier