(From the “Secrets of Happy Home Life”, 1894)
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for it” (Ephesians 5:25). A husband is to love his wife. Is love despotic? Does love put its object in a servant’s place? No; love serves. It seeks not its own. It desires “not to be served, but to serve.” It does not demand attention, deference, service, subjection. It seeks rather to serve, to give, to honor.
The measure of the love required by the husband is to be well noted—”Even as Christ also loved the Church.” This is a lofty standard. How did Christ show His love for His Church? Think of His gentleness to His friends, His patience with them in all their faultiness, His thoughtfulness, His unwearying kindness. Never did a harsh word fall from His lips upon their ears. Never did He do anything to give them pain. It was not easy for Him at all times to maintain such constancy and such composure and quietness of love toward them; for they were very faulty, and tried Him in a thousand ways. But His affection never wearied nor failed for an instant. Husbands are to love their wives even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for it. He loved even to the cost of utmost self-sacrifice.
There are men, however, who would do this, whose love would sacrifice even life itself for a wife, but who fail in daily and hourly tenderness, when there is no demand for great self-denial. Hence the other counsel must be remembered—”Love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” More wives might complain of the lack of love in the little tendernesses than in great acts and manifestations.
A true woman’s heart craves gentleness. It is hurt by bitter words, by coldness, by impatience, by harsh criticisms, by neglect, by the withholding of the expressions of affection. Love craves its daily bread of tenderness. No husband should deny his wife the little things of affection, the amenities of love, along the busy, trying days.