Marriage is best described as a lifetime of mutual joyful servitude. It’s funny just how many men read their Bible, and especially certain passages which make clear that the wife’s body belongs to her husband (1st Corinthians 7:3), and then stop reading abruptly lest they see also that the husband’s body is the property of the wife.
In marriage a husband and wife belong to each other. Stop for a moment and think about the implications. Your body is not yours to do with as you will. It belongs to your wife. Freely given as a marital gift between both parties, your bodies become the joyful responsibility of each other. This also provides the basis for the admonition by Paul not to deny each other in general.
You might think that this does not apply, since only women withhold themselves, right? However, that does not explain the large number of women who often feel it difficult, if not impossible, to bring their husbands to the marital bed. Often even the strongest encouragement fails to break his attention from a TV show or a ball game, and leaves the wife feeling unwanted, unloved, and unattractive. As husbands, on the other hand, we tend to expect our wives to drop everything and tend to our needs joyfully and enthusiastically.
Like most every issue couples can have with the marital embrace, the root problem is selfishness. It’s a pernicious evil which infects all aspects of our relationship and poisons it from the inside. Worse is that selfishness is contagious and spreads like a plague between the partners and within all aspects of their marriage. In order to put our selfishness into check and make a good start on exterminating it from our marriage, you should consider taking the following steps.
1. Respond to her with the same joyful enthusiasm you would want her to show you when a request is made upon you, whether she as asking for help with the dishes or trying to pry you from the television for some intimate time.
2. Never refuse her if you can accommodate her. Keep in mind that you are very literally hers. Don’t renege on that vow for any reason, especially not a television show. Doing so damages the bond between you and weakens your vows in general. It also sets a precedent you may later find frustrating.
3. Always say thank you. Whether it was for help with dishes or hours of intimacy, let her know that you are happy to offer yourself in service to her. Never let her feel that her needs from you are a burden. Show her that she is a responsibility joyfully accepted.
4. Be kind, gentle, and considerate. When you make any request of your wife, remember she is not a slave. She is a willing servant just as you are. Remember that you both are bound servants of God, as well. Keep in mind that God is watching, always. If that won’t temper your actions then nothing will. Never ask anything of her if you are unwilling to reciprocate.
5. Be selfless. It’s easy to be taken advantage of, but trust must be built. As the husband, the task of going first falls to you. It may take a concerted effort over a period of time or bear fruit immediately. In any case, it is your marital duty to persevere in this endeavor. Do joyfully for her without expectation and rely on God to work in her heart.
When two people devote themselves body and soul to the service of the other with the end goal of arriving together in heaven, the beauty of the relationship on Earth outshines anything you can imagine. The seed of a love which sprouts only under these conditions is planted and nurtured by joyful submission and service to each other as is appropriate to their station.
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