What Love Is…And What It Isn’t

Posted on October 1, 2012 by

This is another installment in the periodic series, “Let Her Ask Her Husband…”

I thought it might be interesting to get my husband’s official, on the record take of what it means for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. Indeed it was interesting, so much so that we had two interviews instead of the one I initially planned to use to present in this space. Because I feel so strongly the burden to present my husband’s position clearly, I will simply offer his words without translation from me.

Our conversation began during a rare moment of privacy we shared without the distraction of children, music, or phones ringing.  As we rode in the car I told him I needed his help with a post I wanted to write and asked, “What do you think is required for a man to love his wife as Christ loved the church?”

It is rare after nearly 2 decades for one spouse not to have a fairly accurate read on what the other thinks when major issues are discussed. At least, it is rare when they developed the intimacy required to be happily married after such a long stretch. As a result, I knew going in what the answer to the question would be. Nevertheless, the conversation that ensued was a great blessing to us both. He began:

“The most important thing a husband needs to remember about the passage is that Christ loved us by giving us what we needed: redemption from sin. We would have been perfectly happy to keep on enjoying the lusts of the flesh and the pleasures of the world. But He knew we were doomed if He didn’t help us. So He took no thought for our feelings, and did what we needed.”

Right out of the starting blocks, he zeroed in on doing what needs to be done for the recipient of the love rather than focusing on their feelings.  And yes, I saw this coming. Leaders lead rather than pander, and my husband is a leader. For the purpose at hand, I continued with yet another question I knew the answer to. “So”, I asked, “Are you saying you never have to take my feelings into consideration”?

“If that’s your idea of a trick question, I am not tricked. When it comes to loving you in the truest sense of the word, no. Your feelings don’t get to run the show. Being the head of this family is an honor, but also a huge responsibility. It could even be considered a burden. I have to do what’s best for all of us at the expense not only of your feelings, but mine as well. Sometimes love hurts.”

Because my man is awesome in ways I cannot begin to describe here, and honest as well, he acknowledged that it would be wrong to pretend as if my feelings mean nothing because after all, he is a human being with feelings as well.  So, where do feelings enter the equation?

“I don’t want to see you miserable or unhappy. It makes me feel good to know that you care about what I think and make every effort to be the wife I need you to be. So yeah, when it doesn’t conflict with the overall mission, I should do things to make you feel good. You’re much better at doing what I tell you to do when you like me, so I won’t ignore your feelings. I’ve got feelings. But that’s not love. That’s emotion. It has its place in marriage and I feel for those couples without connection, but it’s not what real love is all about. Love is action and loving you means holding you to account. And if you love me you’ll keep my commandments.”

My takeaway from all of this is that I am very blessed to have a husband who is strong enough to lead me well and smart enough to appreciate what I need as a woman. Now that’s love.