There is a popular teaching in the body of Christ today dealing with marriage that is sometimes misused or over generalized. It goes something like this:
If a husband will love his wife as Christ loved the church, then the woman will either be happy or willing to return that love and affection.
Though this teaching has scriptural support via Ephesians 5:25-28 and the example that Christ set as the groom for the church, there are exceptions to this principle. In fact, I am finding that more husbands than we may realize are crying out for someone to acknowledge that exceptions to this rule do indeed exist.
The Garden of Eden, Israel, and the Church
If the actions of the masculine side of the equation always guaranteed contentment and happiness on the feminine side, then Adam and Eve would never had sinned in the Garden of Eden. Also, Israel, God’s wife, would never had committed spiritual adultery.
In the New Testament, the church takes on the role of Christ’s bride. This is evident through scriptures such as II Corinthians 11:2 which states:
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you [the church] to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
It must be noted, however, that even though there was never a more perfect groom than Christ, some of His churches went astray as a result of their discontentment and carnality. One such church was the church that Paul was writing to in II Corinthians 11, and, of course, that was the church at Corinth.
Exceptions do not Disprove the General Principle
I would like to be clear that in many, if not most, situations it is true that if the husband will properly love his wife, then she will have an easier time returning that love. We definitely deal with this in our marriage book, How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting with One Another. However, there are exceptions due to the following reasons:
The cup of happiness may be empty in the heart of the wife.
The wife may be blaming the husband for her lack of contentment.
This is one of the biggest mistakes husband and wives make in that the door to unhappiness always opens from the inside.
The wife may not realize that God is to be her all in all instead of her husband.
The wife may be using Christian teachings as a form of control over her husband.
Subconsciously, the wife may not want to give up a sense of control and empowerment over her husband, therefore, no matter what changes he makes, she may still find fault with him.
This is always the hardest issue to detect as the wife in this situation is usually not purposely trying to maintain control. It is more subconscious in nature, and the amazing contradiction lies in the fact that while she maintains a sense of control she is telling others how much she wants him to act like the man of the house. Truly, the heart is deceitful above all things as Jeremiah 17:9 states.
This is also doubly difficult to detect because the wife usually has convinced herself that she is a victim of her husband’s disobedience. This makes it difficult to detect as the average counselor will error to the side of caution and side with the woman’s woes instead of encouraging her to find her happiness in God.