Perhaps you've witnessed two toddlers going at each other, upset over which will get their way. It's usually a short-lived event, but it can be pretty intense while it's happening. Sometimes the relationship between a husband and wife can get pretty intense as well, over who gets their way. Unfortunately, rather than being short-lived, it can continue until what was meant to last "until death do us part" ends prematurely in divorce. Certainly there are many issues that need to be addressed in the interpersonal relationships marriage brings, but we should begin with God, with how He wants a husband and wife to respond to each other.

Paul emphasized the need for each of us to "submit to one another in the fear of the Lord" (Eph. 5:21, NKJV), in reverence to God our Creator and His will for our lives. Rather than selfishly pursue each one's personal agenda, we must give consideration to each one's needs as well. Paul offered good advice when he reminded the members of the Lord's church at Philippi, "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:4). If that is true of relationships in general, how important it is when considering the needs of a relationship in the home! We need to be concerned about each other, helping each other, helping to complete each other.

For this to happen, Paul said the role of the wife is to "submit to your own husbands as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22). While there is certainly much that is shared in marriage, God's design for headship belongs to the husband, and the wife should be supportive and submissive in this matter. I know our society disdains the idea of submission to anyone or anything. The truth is, we're all submissive in one way or another, whether it's a boss at work, traffic laws while driving, following a doctor's advice for our health, and many other areas. If you submit to the will of God, who created us and knows best how we are designed to live, if you love the husband you married, then this should come freely, to support and encourage him in the role He has from God.

This is an easier matter when the husband fulfills his role to the wife. Paul said, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Eph. 5:25). Christ provides everything the church needs, even to the point of sacrificing Himself on its behalf. Headship in the home isn't about "being boss," but loving, giving, caring, nurturing, seeing the wife is able to be what God wants her to be. The husband must be submissive to God to be this kind of person, to provide this type of environment for her. He thinks of what is best for her, and does his best to provide it. If you love the wife you married, then this should come freely, to support and encourage her in the role she has from God.

It takes love and patience for a marriage to work. Those two toddlers mentioned earlier need it, and these are qualities God shows in dealing with us. Shouldn't a couple put each other first in marriage, to be what God intends as a husband and wife? What would happen if we build a relationship on God's principles? Could it be we would have marriages that last?

Robert Johnson
Longview TX