Men, when I talk about becoming a servant to your wife, I’m not advocating a surrender of your God-ordained calling to provide leadership in your marriage. That would merely be trading one expression of unfaithfulness and one set of problems for another. Instead, I’m talking about giving up misguided and flawed styles of leadership for a more biblical pattern; a pattern that won’t trample your wife’s spirit, but will provide the context for your marriage to blossom.
Guys, the posture of your servant-leadership in marriage is two-fold. You’re both servant and leader. The balance is delicate. Overemphasis or misunderstanding of either aspect creates imbalance and distortion. For instance, if you lead by being a king of the realm, and lording that role over your wife, resentment is sure to be a result. At the same time, if in serving you abdicate your role of male leadership you may force your wife to assume that role and that creates problems in the marriage dynamics.
Both extremes are damaging because they distort God’s design for marriage’that is, marriage no longer parallels Christ’s relationship to His bride, the Church.
Men, true, biblical, servant-leadership doesn’t promote either of these extremes. True servant-leaders lead, but do so in a manner that creates oneness and radiance in their wives.
Men tend to be highly visual. Consequently, they also tend to be very susceptible to sexual temptation when it’s presented visually. Put bluntly: most men have eyes that follow every short skirt that walks by. This presents a huge obstacle to marital intimacy. One disgruntled wife put it simply: ‘Men are pigs.’ And to the extent we choose our own way rather than purifying our eyes and submitting out behaviors to God, it’s an apt indictment.
Consider this letter I received from a reader of my book, Every Man’s Battle:
‘My husband has bought into the lie that ‘all men look’ because they’re so visual. He read your book Every Man’s Battle, but he still says it’s impossible for any real man to avoid looking at a babe in a string bikini. This bothers me, but he’s threatened me with divorce if I don’t stop ‘nagging’ him about this, I’m sick to my stomach to think that for the rest of my life, I’ll be robbed of fullness in my marriage. Because this bothers me so much, and because my husband is so sick of being reminded of it, he does it even more now! Can you imagine? Everywhere I go with my husband I know I can’t keep his attention. NOWHERE!’
Note her pain, men. The lust of your eyes hardens your heart and blinds you to your own wife. This dishonors both your wife and the God who so graciously gave her to you. Consider attending the Every Man’s Battle workshop. Read testimonies from other men who have attended.
Men, just like with you, your wife’s weaknesses will create impasses and threaten marital oneness. What will you do to bring oneness from such impasses? Demand that she straighten up and fly right? Surely there’s a more effective way to help her when she needs guidance. Why not lay down your ‘rights’ as the leader and graciously love her through these impasses?
Men, I want to present you with a challenge today: Stop evaluating your wife and resenting her because she doesn’t perfectly measure up to your standards. Instead, start accepting and appreciating her’and show her that in practical ways. When you demand that she change, or manipulate her into changing, you actually cause her to dig in her heels in order to defend her ground and the person she is. But when you accept her and love her no matter what, she drops her guard. She stops digging in her heels because she feels free to be the best she can be. Free to change. Free to be the wife you need.
So if your approach has been to crow like a rooster over every one of your wife’s imperfections, I suggest you eat some crow. Confess your unloving attitude to God and to her, and watch what happens. If she’s like 98 percent of all women, she will draw closer to you. And your relationship will continue to grow for as long as you appreciate and accept her’imperfections and all.