The family unit was designed to be a blessing to mankind. Love was to be woven into the tender and sacred fabric of this enduring relationship. Even though sin entered this world, it is still love that binds and unites the happy couple to face life’s realities and to cope with its many difficulties, as well as to share its joys. The apostle Paul briefly describes the duties of the husband and wife. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” Ephesians 5:22, 25. These wise and timeless words point out clearly the obligations of each partner in order to preserve this monumental pillar which the Lord instituted in the Garden of Eden.
Unfortunately, too often in the family the precious heavenly gift of love begins to lose its luster, charm, and novelty; and it eventually wanes into a state of dissatisfaction, lack of interest, lack of respect, and may even die out completely. “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4
Has your once romantic and idyllic adventure of love grown to bring still greater closeness and happiness? Do you still remember how you treated your spouse just after the ceremony in which you made your solemn vows to love and to cherish? Maybe you thought, “I will do everything for my sweetheart.” Not only did you frequently say, “I love you,” but you really meant it. Many beautiful memories may still linger in your mind of the early period of marriage, which was just ideal, wonderful, with cheerfulness and happiness radiating from both of you.
As the years go by, the husband and wife may get out of tune or out of step with each other, so to speak. They may lose touch with each other on a mental and spiritual plane. Each travels his own road, and the distance between them widens. This should not be the case. God said, “Let them be one.” It is God’s plan that the couple should share the joys and experiences of life rather than living each to himself.
It is very important for both husband and wife to treat one another the same way now as they did in former years. Did you ever open the car door for your wife or buy her a bouquet of flowers on that special occasion—birthday, anniversary, or Mother’s Day? It cheered her up and made her feel loved and appreciated as an individual, didn’t it? Do you still call up your wife when you will be late for supper? This way she can plan the supper and not be too inconvenienced. How about the second honeymoon? It’s sure worth taking again after the children have grown up.
“Let the husband and wife study each other’s happiness, never failing in the small courtesies and little kindly acts that cheer and brighten the life. Perfect confidence should exist between husband and wife. Together they should consider their responsibilities.” —Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 393.
Many husbands think that the housewife is just a maid or robot to be ordered around. The woman of the house has more than an eight-hour job. The daily routine of housekeeping needs to be interrupted with a change of pace and scenery. How about a trip to the mountains, to the zoo or the seashore? A surprise or two may lift her spirits.
Let’s not forget how pleasant it was when both husband and wife looked neat and attractive. Each one was properly groomed and tried to look his best at all times. One doesn’t need to spend a fortune on the latest fashions to be physically attractive, but do take care of your clothes. Make sure they are clean, pressed, well-fitting, and generally becoming to your person. It is our privilege to look our best. Wouldn’t it be great to receive a compliment on how you look and to have a feeling of self-respect and self-confidence?
With but few remaining days of probation still left, the enemy of our souls will work with greater zeal and energy than ever before to hinder the development of a Christ-like character. Without Christ as the connecting link between husband and wife the union will not withstand the stresses of life. Both parties are to reflect the image of Christ and to help and strengthen one another. Defects of character will be readily seen in each other, but you should still be able to honestly say, “I appreciate you more than ever.” Have you prayed for your husband or wife to overcome sin? Have you asked for forgiveness for the wrong attitude or harsh words you have spoken to each other? Have you talked things over in a nice way, without getting hot under the collar? Does morning and evening worship still continue in the family, or is no time found for God’s Word? Do the children receive the right guidance from both mother and father, or are they permitted to go their own ways?
These few questions are meant to stimulate your thinking regarding the importance of the early attentions. I do hope that you can answer these questions positively and, if not, that you will make a prayerful assessment of your shortcomings and correct them.
I would like to conclude with this inspired counsel:
“There are many who regard the expression of love as a weakness, and they maintain a reserve that repels others. This spirit checks the current of sympathy. As the social and generous impulses are repressed, they wither, and the heart becomes desolate and cold. We should beware of this error. Love cannot long exist without expression. Let not the heart of one connected with you starve for the want of kindness and sympathy.” The Ministry of Healing, p. 360.