When Karen and I first married, I loved the way she looked at me. Her face radiated love and admiration.
It didn’t last.
Within a few years of our wedding, the happy countenance of my beautiful bride had turned into a hostile scowl. “Stop looking at me,” I would find myself saying. Her face had become so bitter.
That’s harder to answer, right? I’ve asked that last question from the stage and in counseling and received a lot of blank stares. It never occurred to me that the look on her face was a reflection of my character and arrogant disposition.
The fault was my own. An enormous chauvinist at the time, I treated her with contempt. I bullied her emotionally and destroyed her self-esteem.
But when God reached into our marriage and empowered me to learn and follow Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 5—that husbands should love their wives sacrificially as Christ loves the church—I began treating Karen with love and selflessness. I nurtured her, complimented her, and served her.
Karen transformed. Her sour look disappeared. Her face began to glow. She returned to the beautiful woman I had married.
Today, four decades later, Karen is more beautiful to me than she was the first time we met. I love looking at her, and I love the way she looks at me. I’ve watched her blossom from a timid person who used to stand behind me at parties into a television personality who radiates insight and authority.
Her voice has remained quiet, but her demeanor exudes confidence and wisdom. If you met her today, you’d have a hard time believing she was once so shy.
When we love each other as Jesus loves the church, we release the potential in our spouse.
Karen has become the woman of poise and influence that God created her to be, but which my boorish behavior had prevented from happening. Once I stepped out of the way and began nourishing her the way God intended, she blossomed.
In the same way, Karen is proud when she sees what God has accomplished in my life. Neither of us imagined the great things God had planned for our ministry, but he has used us in powerful ways to spread His message of hope and transformation.
Karen has played a huge role in this process. She believed in me even when I had lost all confidence in my own abilities. She has built me up, cheered me on, and whispered words of encouragement when I needed them most.
She has loved me like Christ loves the church. As my faithful cheerleader, she has motivated me to accomplish more than I ever dreamed. We have come so far from a couple on the brink of divorce, who could barely stand to look at each other.
Men thrive in an atmosphere of praise and admiration.
Women thrive amid love, security, and nurture.
Marriages reach their full potential only when a couple commits to following the Ephesians 5 model of sacrifice, service, and submission.