MARRIAGE -- THE HIGH CALLING
FOR MEN ONLY
"Honey, do you love me?"
"Yes, Sweetheart, I do."
"Do you really love me?"
"Yes, Darling, I really do. You know that I do."
"Do you love me more than anything in the world?"
"Yes, I do! How many times do I have to tell you for it to sink in? Now get off my back about it!"
To those who this sounds familiar may wonder why their wives keep harping that same tune and asking them if they love them, especially since their first answer was "YES." One reason may be, is that this simple three letter word might not be adequate to soothe her inmost feelings. A man can voice that positive word of yes to reassure his wife, and it will sometimes work for the moment, but it really carries little weight if there is not an outward demonstration of love over a prolonged period of time. A man can tell his wife he loves her every hour of the day for days upon end; but if he doesn't show it by his actions, it will not be long before she sees his insincerity. Without a manifestation of love, his words soon become meaningless.
Any man can be laying beside their lovely wife, holding her in his manly arms and saying "Darling, I love You," but she will have doubts if she is treated any less than those pristine words entail. While he is telling her how much he loves her, she might be thinking, "You hypocrite! How can you say you love me tonight, when all week long you treated me like a hired servant? You even gave our dog more attention when you came home than you did to me. If it wasn't for your hormones, you probably wouldn't even notice me now."
Feelings like this can build in a woman, and they can be devastating. After awhile she may feel that she missed God and has made the biggest mistake of her life, a tormenting mistake that she will have to live with forever. Or she might begin to feel that she has somehow failed in her marriage and believes that she is worthless. Such thoughts give her no reason to get out of bed and face another day of futility and dejection. Her self-esteem will then languish into a hopeless void. Then again, in self-defense or even in anger, she may see the man as the one who is totally at fault. She may even begin to view him as a childish weakling, a pathetic failure. Whatever is the reason, a wedge comes down between them, and after awhile they are miles apart in their affections. Therefore, as good as it is for a man to tell their wives that they love them, it is expedient for them to also demonstrate it with genuine sincerity of heart if they expect them to come alive and radiate with warmth and genuine affection.
There is a truth that may have gone unnoticed by many, principally, "That which people love the most they will give the most, whether it is their time, money or attention. Women, however, are definitely becoming aware of it, and this is why they are so hurt when they are not on the receiving end of these things. They are quick to notice if our work, our friends, casual acquaintances, television, or anything else, receives more of our time and attention than they do. When they see us desiring to be with someone or something else more than with them, can we imagine what little value they feel we have of them? It can really destroy a women's self-worth.
There has been a great deception when it comes to love. Men and women alike have been raised in a world that promotes the illusion of spontaneous, magical love. It is assumed that love just comes naturally when the right people come together -- when the "chemistry" is right. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but those who have been married for very long know this to be a fable of the grossest proportions. No, dear reader, love -- the love that will carry one to the High Calling of Marriage -- does not come this way. Nevertheless, the first step of reaching this goal is very easy and ridiculously simple to apply; namely, HAVING THE DESIRE TO LOVE OUR WIVES.
This may sound a little absurd, but the truth of the matter is -- we love, we like, we dislike, or even hate our wives because we want to. The truth of the matter is, we generally want to love those who are lovely, and we want to hate those who are hateful. And if our dear wife becomes less than lovely, we generally have the tendency to love her less, and less, until our actions toward her produce a hateful woman; and you guessed it, we begin to hate her. Only one negative thought in our minds can start the ball rolling, and once this happens it can institute a chain reaction resulting in deadly consequences to the marriage. (This works the same with the wife as well.) If the ever-increasing size of the snowball is to be stopped before it hits the side of our "humble" homes, we must make up our minds to love our wives. When this step is taken, unconditional love will be instilled which cannot help from eventually bearing fruit of its own kind. When this intentionally directed love is present, there is no room left for much of anything else.
Once we demonstrate our love through actions, our wives will begin to know that we think more of them than anyone or anything else in the world -- even more than ourselves -- and this will produce things in them we never knew they had. To our amazement, we will find that such deliberate acts of love will also do strange and marvelous things to ourselves. Once we institute this, we will begin to be possessed more and more by this new-found love. Above all else, we will find ourselves giving our precious time to them. We might even find it enjoyable to be standing beside her and helping with the dishes, or even doing them for her. This will not be the product of a sense of duty, but will be generated from a genuine desire to bless and make her happy. Her joy will become our joy -- regardless! With this small amount of knowledge alone, we should be a little more mindful of the words that roll off the tips of our tongues. When action, rather than words, is manifested, many will be amazed to be so blessed with the Holy union between him and his wife. Such a union will reveal the deep secrets of God that the human tongue cannot utter. Contrary to man's limited love, that which desires to give in order to receive, this unlimited, unconditional love, has but one passion -- to give regardless of ever receiving in return. With this being true, let us then be men which give from our hearts an abundance of the highest degree of this priceless fruit. In so doing, whether they change or not, we will begin to notice our wives in a light that we have never seen -- in brilliant radiance, in splendid incomparable beauty. What a much more enjoyable way of viewing them, don't you agree?
There is, however, a universal problem that seems to prevent many men from being able to rekindle the flame in their marital relationship. They can be overflowing with the knowledge of what must be done to melt the cold hearts of their wives. All the principles of marriage can come to them as stunning revelations, such grand things that would profound the minds of esteemed counselors. Their darkened thoughts can be illumined as bright as the rising sun with the awe-inspiring concepts of love as they shine their truths into the deepest depths of their hearts. They can know all there is to know about walking the mysterious road of this high calling of marriage. And they may still not enjoy one fruit from the branches of this magnificent tree called Love. The vast majority of the world's populace seek after and sincerely desire to eat from this grand tree. Within the heart of every person, excluding none, there resides the desire to love and to be loved. Without this love in ones life, there will always be something lacking, a cold void waiting to be filled. As true as it is, this priceless fruit still eludes humanity as steadfastly as darkness does the light. Men and women alike run to and fro, grasping for the precious ointment of love, only to let it trickle through their clutching fingers once they possess it -- not knowing why they cannot hold it in their unlearned, reckless hands.
What, then, might the problem be? Since everyone desires to love and to be loved, and if they may know what the principles are to the high calling of marriage, just what is the problem that is hindering them from reaching the goal of this esteemed paradise?
Other than knowing what the principles are but failing to put them into action, the problem is simple, yet very subtle, and it is deadly to love -- as deadly as holding a viper to the throat. The fatal poison that often destroys young love is the selfish desire to receive rather than to give. This evasive thing is inherent in every human being to one degree or another, and if there is not a balance of giving it will invariably send poison throughout the relationship and deliver its mortal wound deep into the soul, which too many have already suffered. As good as it is to know about the principles, it's not enough. Selfishness has to die in order for love to work.
Although a marriage may have received a death blow, and there remains no detectable breath of life in the marriage, and this once flourishing tree of love has been cut to the ground and destroyed -- take heart dear friends; for there is hope, even as the man of antiquity resounded many millenniums ago: "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. If a man dies (his love), shall he live again (shall his love live again)? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change comes." (Job 14:7-9, 14). (Parentheses mine).
You see, there is hope if the tree is cut to the ground. This is the primary principle of renewing life -- an ample supply of water. Many will give up when their love dies, thinking it is all over. Too often they view it as Solomon, the one who saw all things as vanity. He said, "If a tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be." (Eccl. 11:3). This book, however, according to the authorities, is from the perspective of man rather than as God views a matter.
Regardless of how hopeless a situation looks, even though the tree may have been cut to the ground, Job assures us that at the scent of water it will bud -- life will once again flow through its veins and course its way to every fiber of its being. When the water of life touches the roots of a marital relationship -- life is stirred. It will then burst forth with joy and healing and great rejoicing. When we continue to supply those long forsaken roots with the fresh water of life, the appearance of death will eventually vanish, and the tree of love will come forth and live again.
Although we understand what the water of life will do to a seemingly dead tree -- the question remains: What is the water? And what is it that we can do to bring forth this precious substance? "Just tell us what it is," you say, "and if we have this cool, refreshing, life-giving water, we will gladly give it to our wives to drink. We will gladly give a stranger a drink of water, even our enemy, and much more so to our wives." Really? Then let us see.
The life-giving water that will revive and resurrect a dead marriage is simply this, and it is good medicine for the wives too: you give your life by C-H-A-N-G-I-N-G! CHANGE is the fresh drink of water many wives are longing for. Just to notice them and let them know that they are truly loved is all the change it would take for many wives to live again. Unfortunately more than a few husbands are reluctant to any type of change at all. This unwillingness is a problem that will hinder the restoration of love, and can dampen any warm feelings that might still be glowing. As we mentioned earlier, regardless of the knowledge we have of how to resurrect love, in order to see results, we must incorporate the principle of change into our lives.
Almost all of us have high aspirations of achievement, whether it is in marriage or any other category of life. Regardless of how noble our thoughts may be, thoughts are only as good as the action applied to them. This is what produces change. Good intentions without action benefits no one. Action must be applied to thoughts to see any results. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? But we all know that it just does not work that way with most people, for as much as we know to do right, there is still something in us that refuses to change. We are very often content right where we are. Too many today expect the world to change around them and to fit into their mold. The truth of the matter is, life will deal much bitterness to those who have this conception and have no desire to change. Rather than enjoying the bountiful harvest of happiness, they will forever be reaping in the field of painful thorns and irritating thistles. Unrealized by the average person, major portions of everything in our lives are products of our own choosing. We either choose life or we choose death. Unfortunately, men today (and women too) believe they are qualified to be the captain of their own salvation; and in believing so, they seem to always choose the way of death rather than life. This, of course, is because of their desires to create a world around them that suits their desires rather than the needs of others. The bottom line is this: there is something we have all been born with -- selfishness, as mentioned earlier. And whether it is believed or not, a self-centered life will always send a person into the lower realms of life, into mere existence, rather than ascending into the higher spectrums of our high calling.
The first step in climbing from the depths of hell to the heights of the heavens, from mere existence in a marriage to unparalleled heights of happiness, is to desire a better life. Fortunately, this is resident in almost everyone, but that is just about as far as it usually gets in many -- just an obscure, distant desire, not realizing what else it takes. Firstly, in order for a better life to transpire there must be pinpointed desires: THE DESIRE TO LOVE YOUR WIFE, THE DESIRE TO MAKE HER HAPPY AT ALL COST, and THE DESIRE TO LEARN WHAT WORKS, and it matters not whether you think she deserves to be loved and made happy or not -- CHOOSE TO DESIRE IT ANYWAY! Secondly, it is then that the principles are to be put into practice. You DO that which you know to do. Simply speaking, it involves DESIRING, LEARNING, AND DOING (DLD).
Some of you guys may still be a little skeptical, and you are not sure if it is safe to make any drastic changes, thinking that if you give her an inch she will take a mile, as the saying goes. Rest assured, Sir, when it is done in the true spirit of love, especially in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, it will work. It may take a little time, but it will work! And again, let's say that you do have a one-in-a-million, totally spoiled, rotten to the core, demanding, never satisfied, self-centered wife, who will not respond and refuses to reciprocate -- so what? What do you have to loose? Your pride? Your self-worth? Your manhood? Not in a billion years! Those are the things you gain! The truth is, you won't loose a thing by loving her, but you will have gained untold treasures by learning to be a man of love -- a true gentleman. And if you continue in that you will eventually win her over.
The third step can be taken once the decisions are firmly made that you are willing to love your wife and you want to change; you are willing to sacrifice your life; you are willing to stand in the face of the lion for your wife if necessary. In essence, you can proceed when you are willing to lay down and die to your personal wants in order for her to be made happy. When this is settled in your mind, you can then, and must, take the next step -- TO DO WHAT YOU KNOW TO DO. PUT ACTION TO THE PRINCIPLES YOU HAVE LEARNED -- AND WATCH THE DEAD COME TO LIFE! It is good to know a lot about many things, but do we not understand, that knowledge alone is not enough to get the job done? Regardless of what it is, we have to DO in order to accomplish anything -- don't we?
Be serious now. Do you want to see your love raised again to life (if indeed it has died or there is room for improvement)? Then you must apply the final part of the formula, and with concerted effort build this grand house of love.
Peter wrote of these things when he said to dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel (I Pt. 3:7). You see, whether or not we as men "feel" like loving our wives, or we feel like changing our ways, or feel like doing anything -- it makes no difference. The truth of the matter is -- we are to dwell with them ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE. Simply stated, when we know what it takes to make our wives live, then we are to do it. When we know how to make them feel secure, then according to what we know, not how we feel, we are to do it. Whatever it takes to make our wives healthy in spirit, soul and body, if we know how to do it, then we are less of a man and are shamefully remiss if we don't do it. It is as easy as that.
Remember? The man by nature is generally the more rational, reasoning creature, while the woman is generally more emotional and possesses the greater intuitive powers. Therefore, according to knowledge, not emotions, the man is to dwell with his wife, to love his wife, and to honor his wife. He doesn't have to feel like it, he is to just do it. By fulfilling this particular principle of marriage, a mystery as profound as the metamorphose of the ugly caterpillar begins to unfold. From within the confines of her inmost being there will be seen the emerging of the beautiful wings of love -- arrayed in the colorful spectrum and splendid variations of her hidden loveliness. From that point you will no longer merely dwell with her according to knowledge, but your obedient sacrifice will suddenly change to a burning passion of love. You will find yourself not being able to do enough for her. You won't be able to keep your hands off her. You will enjoy her every touch. And the sound of her voice will set the cords of love racing through the fibers of your very being. In other words, dear friend, you will never be the same! I guarantee it! If you take those three giant steps of desiring to love your wife, willing to change, and then putting into practice what you know to do, you will witness the resurrection of two dead trees back to life again.
All this sounds good, doesn't it? And it is, but we all know that it is not so easy to change lifelong habits. For some it would be easier to change the course of a mighty river. Nevertheless, with the knowledge and determination for a better life, it can be done. Even though there will be times when you will have the tendency to gravitate back to your old way of thinking, there is that obscure secret mentioned earlier, which if learned and applied, will keep you from giving in to it. It's that secret of truly wanting to love your wife, and doing so according to knowledge.
Without the knowledge and application of these priceless tools, the slightest thing can throw us for a loop. It only has to be a sharp word or a cutting glance. We can be flying in the heights of the heavens and having a great time, and without warning a guided missile can clip our wings and send us plunging to the earth. It doesn't seem possible to be so high one moment, and the then the next to find ourselves wrapped in anger, hurt, despair, or whatever else that destroys love.
For instance, let me relate one of my own experiences, and this was after I had began to view my wife in a light I had never seen her in before. I had been walking in this tremendous realm for six weeks or more, and to me she could do no wrong, or so I had thought.
This particular day, I had decided to put aside a heavy workload in my office and do some outside work for Margit that needed to be done. Although the things in my office were very pressing, what she needed was more important to me than anything else that day. I wanted her to be blessed above all else.
One of the jobs to be done was to look into a persistent problem we'd had with our carport and porch. It had been settling from the time she had planted a honeysuckle vine at one corner. I had asked her not to water it so much, but to no avail, for her desire to have a beautiful vine superseded my warnings of the damage it could cause to the structure. Since my efforts failed to persuade her, periodically, I had to jack the corner of the carport and porch up and put bricks and other spacers under it to compensate for the settling.
Now that this new-found revelation of wanting to love my wife was working, this honeysuckle vine was no longer a problem to me. If she wanted it, then I wanted it. If she wanted to pump 10,000 gallons of water a day onto it, this was fine too. I would just do whatever was necessary to the foundation so that it could take the abuse. Therefore, I forsook the entire world that day to please my wife.
After determining exactly what I needed to do in order to correct the problem, I gathered together all the tools for the job, including cement, gravel and heavy reinforcement steel bars. With the corner jacked up, the tools laying around, and while digging down below the foundation, the thought came to me: "Before I finish, like always, she will be out here to tell me how I should be doing this project" -- and not to my surprise, she did! I was hot, tired, thirsty and sweating, and before she had said a word, I was thinking to myself, "I don't need her telling me how to do this job. I have already worked this out in my mind and have seen it to the end; and besides, she doesn't understand things like this and couldn't add one thing to help if I asked her."
Well, when her words came, to me they were not helpful at all but very critical. It sounded as if she was talking to one who was incompetent to do anything right. Not only was I hurt, but defensive anger immediately arose. I didn't say much to her, only enough to get her to leave me to the task at hand; however, I had fallen from the heavens in a rapid tailspin. A few moments before, I saw her as an angel of light and was willing to do anything for her; but now, nothing good could be seen in her -- and it was tormenting. Rather than the sweet influence of love in my heart, I had a searing knife of indignation cutting through the fiber of my very being.
This feeling not only persisted, but it grew. It magnified itself; that is, until I remembered the great secret of love and applied it. With knowledge, not feelings, I deliberately desired to love my wife, regardless of whether she was right or wrong. With knowledge, I could see and understand that it was not anything she had said which caused my fall, but it was my thoughts that started the ball to rolling. My first negative thought was expecting her to come and criticize my work, and with that premise, anything outside of praise would have been taken as criticism. It only took that one thought to change my entire perspective of things.
Had I exercised what I knew to do with that first thought, Margit's words would have been received as a blessing and would have never cut. Nevertheless, although the knife kept cutting deeper as each minute passed, which caused me to see a parade of her shortcomings, with knowledge I chose to love her and to see nothing but good. Once the fire of hurt and anger was kindled, it was much harder to submit and put into action what I knew to do; but with my intense abhorrence to the feeling of anger, I did what was necessary to stop the pain. With knowledge and deliberate determination, I changed my thoughts. It was then that the pain ceased, and I was able put my arms around my sweet wife and truly say, "Darling, I love you," and she knew that I meant it!
That, my dear old hard and crusty men-friends of mine, is one of the simple secrets which will keep us from falling back to the painful death throes of marriage. Rather than defeat we will always be ascending in victory to THE HIGH CALL OF MARRIAGE. Let us never entertain a negative thought about our wives again (or anyone for that matter); and if one of those thoughts happen to sneak past our alert minds, we must refuse to let it remain; or else, it will grow to monumental proportions which will eventually be almost impossible to subdue. However, regardless of how far we may slip from the love of our wives, WITH KNOWLEDGE, let us regain our ground and love them. By doing so, we will be able to reach down into the recesses of their very being and help them to unfurl those beautiful butterfly wings of love, that they may ascend into the heavens where they belong.
Elwin R. Roach
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