It is not a foreign idea to many parents that their children become mirrors of their attitudes and actions. Any parent that has had their child repeat an embarrassing comment or copy a bad habit has seen the impact that they have on how their children view the world and act in it.
What is perhaps less commonly know is that husbands and wives reflect each other. Now, for some this may seem obvious. I mean, there is the well known phrase “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” And there is great truth in that. But more deeply, a husband has the responsibility to create love and loveliness in his wife by loving her. We see this is what Paul tells us in Ephesians 5.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.”
The job of a husband is literally to love her to godliness. As Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle said in a sermon on Proverbs, “The only man who gets a Proverbs 31 woman is a Proverbs 31 man.” Unless you are loving and building up your wife, you have no right to expect her to submit and be a blessing to you. In fact, you can expect nothing but strife. Our wives are reflections of the way we love them. If we do not love them with all that we have and in all that we are, giving up our selfishness and pride and leading as a servant, serving our wives, we can expect disrespect and strife from our wives.
But, if we do love our wives as Christ loved the church, we can expect the response of the church from our wives. The church submits to Christ as its head and, though imperfectly, returns the love of Christ with admiration and respect. Yet, even if we do not see that response we expect, we must remember the way that God loves us, as told in Hosea. God commanded Hosea to love a woman who was wayward and lost, as a reminder that love is an action that can be taken even when your wife sins against you. You are to give your love and your life to make her holy and blameless through love. And for men this must be the love given to us by Christ, because we cannot love so passionately, in spite of discouragement from every side, without God’s help.