Marriage was not living up to her expectations. Her husband worked crazy hours, gone for days at a time. She was stuck alone in their apartment in a strange new city a couple of states away from family. When her husband did get home, it was not unusual for him to spend one of his three days off sleeping to recover from the demands of the job. She was alone even when her husband was home.
About eight months into the marriage the young bride called home to say she had had enough. She was shocked that her mother did not immediately say it was okay to come back home. Instead, her mom asked three questions: “Is he paying the bills?” “Yes.”; Is he carousing bars with friends?” “No.”; “Are you experiencing any physical abuse?” “No.” After clarity on those three points, Mom’s advice was, “You know our home is always open to you. But you made the decision to marry and you need to make it work.”
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, … For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the Church. … and the wife must respect her husband.” – Ephesians 5:25 & 31 - 33. Marriage is a copy by design of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. A man is to leave his father and mother and is charged to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. A woman is to respect her husband as the Church respects Christ. A profound mystery indeed! What every couple should take from this passage in Ephesians is that relationship in marriage is a reflection of their relationship with Christ. This is by design because marriage is foundational for family and for raising godly offspring (Malachi 2:15).
It was years later before the young bride shared that desperate call home with her husband. He was convicted of how insensitive he had been to her situation early in the marriage. His mother-in-law was one of his favorite people and he now had another whole level of respect for her. She not only let go of her daughter, she challenged her to take responsibility for the marriage with the hope that her husband would respond. Not many men can say that their mother-in-law saved their marriage but that was the case.
Prayer guide: My Father, thank You for Your Word and the example of relationship established through Your Son. I confess an immaturity in understanding love as Christ loved – selfless, sacrificial love. I am recognizing marriage as a copy by design, Your design for man and woman. Forgive me. I accept responsibility to step forward on the journey of learning to love as You love. Help me love my bride in a selfless, sacrificial way as You loved the Church – better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today. Amen.
A faithful father learns to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, selflessly and sacrificially.