Last summer Karen and I got into an interesting fight. I'd been mowing the lawn in the heat and humidity, and I was sweating. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to spray Weed & Feed on the lawn. It was freshly cut, and no rain was forecasted for days. All I needed were the chemicals.
"I'm going to the store," I told Karen.
"But the kids and I are waiting for you to go to the pool with us," she said. "And we've got to be back by 3."
"That can wait."
"Honey, we promised the kids we'd all go."
"Well, they'll just have to wait."
Karen was upset. "Why didn't you get the stuff before? I thought you said you had some."
"So I was wrong, already," I shot back. "I want to go to the store."
I'll spare you the rest of the conversation. But we went back and forth, and I got mad. Later, I chided myself: What were you thinking? She wanted you to go to the pool and cool off. And you fought with her so you could toil and sweat in the yard?
There was a force greater than logic at work: This was my project. What Karen wanted could wait.
At moments like those, it would help if the apostle Paul could walk right into my house to remind me, "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Eph. 5:25). Those poetic-sounding words are verbal dynamite; they blow apart the way I want things to work. And when the dust settles, their wisdom remains: "Put your spouse first."
A wife is supposed to do that as well, the passage goes on to say, by showing respect, listening to her husband, honoring him and not tearing him down. A husband is called, meanwhile, to sacrifice himself for his wife. Make her feel special. Help her become a more holy, gracious person because of what he gives up for her.1