Men are called five times in the English version of Ephesians 5:22-33 to love their wives. The reason men can love our wives Paul says is because of Christ. Christ bled, died, and rose so His people could be empowered by the Holy Spirit to make much of Jesus. One of the harder aspects of marital life is working through marital issues and challenges.

You may have grown up in a home like me where there was a lot of fighting. You saw first-hand how hurtful words hurt and linger for a long time. Or perhaps you saw physical, mental, or spiritual abuse happen in your home, or even worse, sexual abuse. The home is meant to be a safe place where one’s spouse and children can grow closer to God and one another. Sadly the home is often a place of disarray all across our land where instead of a safe place, there is violence.

Jonathan Edwards was right when he taught that the home is a mini-church. The home is to be a place where the King Jesus is central to the normal rhythms and movements of daily life. Instead of violence, peace, and unity are to rule the home as the husband submits first to Christ and leads his family in a manner that is consistent with biblical teaching.

My wife and I have been married now a little over ten years. Through that time, we’ve had our share of disagreements and fights. We’ve said things to one another that we’re both ashamed of and for which we both have repented. Earlier in our relationship, I told Sarah that I wanted us to be able to work through issues. To that end, we instituted a helpful system whereby when we have a disagreement or fight, we can work through it towards a healthy resolution. Depending on the situation, we’ve learned that we typically need space for a little while. After a while, I’ll come in and apologize to Sarah.

Men, part of working through issues in your marriage is being humble. It takes real humility to admit you’re wrong even if you feel you weren’t. As men, we can often be overly strong in our statements or even rude without even realizing it. This is why the Bible talks about how we’re to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) with all due diligence! This is also why Jesus talked about what comes out of the mouth is a reflection of what is in our hearts (Matthew 15:18; Luke 6:45). Men, when we speak hurtful words to our wife, we hurt her in profound ways. While my wife isn’t overly sensitive, she is still sensitive. This requires that I speak to her in ways that are soft and gentle. This also means I have to be attentive to my tone when speaking to her.

Men, another way to lead your wives is to pray with her and to talk often with her about what you are learning as you read Scripture and godly books. Make sure you are also opening the Scriptures together and talking together about them. Often my wife asks me theological questions, and as a result, we have a robust discussion. When this happens, please e open to where the conversation will go.

Constant vigilance, tender devotion, earnest prayer and humble, Christ-like service go a long way in helping a marriage stay on its feet and growing. When Sarah and I first got married, we got a letter with marriage advice I haven’t forgotten. In the letter we received, I was told that I needed to find Sarah throughout the house and just give her a hug and tell her she’s loved.

Guys, I know this sounds simple, but it works. It will help your wife to know you love her. As men, we’ve been commanded to love our wives. How are you doing at loving your wife? Your love of your wife is the best indicator of your present spiritual health and maturity in Christ.

It’s been said that true validation for ministry doesn’t arise from your talents and abilities as necessary as those are. Rather your validation for ministry arises from your ability to lead your home well. As men, we need to stop abdicating our responsibility and repent of our apathy, abandon our pride, and follow Jesus in all of life. After all, we say we love Jesus but how is the love of Jesus being demonstrated daily in our love for our wife?

The key to working through marital issues is to take your issues just as seriously as you want others to take their own. This means taking the log out of your own eye first through repentance and confession of sin before you point your finger at others. It also means loving the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and soul and being wholly devoted to Him.

Before you have that fight, realize that you are at fault, God requires you to love Him, and the basis of your being able to apologize isn’t yourself or even your wife accepting your apology. Your righteousness is found in believing and clinging to the righteousness of God in the finished work of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but that’s freeing. This means I can be who I am in Christ because of all Christ has accomplished in His finished work.

So go ahead and work through your marital issues, but as you do, recognize your righteousness is found only in Jesus Christ. Now please by God’s grace, model His love to one another in your marriage. As you do, you’ll increasingly find that your marital issues aren’t as big as they once were and also that you are growing closer together with God’s help and a heap of His grace.