Marriage need not be so complex that we require books and deep psychology to receive guidance. It can be as easy as simple actions which support powerful Biblical principles. Try the Like-List. ♦
We’re given simple marital guidance in the Scriptures: wives submit yourselves to your husband; husbands love your wife (Ephesians 5:22, 25). As spelled out in past postings (see Biblical Viewpoint’s Marriage category), God’s wise marriage counsel is merely to love and respect each other; that is, men love your wives and women respect your husbands.
That may seem too general for some, even high-minded.
If you are a Christian and have been married for longer than a few years you are no doubt familiar with the classic 1995 book by Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages. While I am hard pressed to remember all of these off the top of my head, I do know which ones apply to my wife. Most married couples do, or should. I also find that just mentioning this book in a public setting will garner points and get others to nod their heads in approval. Indeed this book is solid and has had a powerful impact in many relationships.
For the record, the five basic ways people express and experience emotional love are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
As spelled out, these are actually more practically defined and tangible than Paul’s strong declaration of marital truth in his letter to the Ephesians. But if not acted upon, even these 5 specific love languages can become mere chapter headings that sound good and make for good Christian couples’ conversation, but lack life-changing instruction.
Like many things these days, I learn much from my own 3 children as I observe their marriages and parenting practices. During a recent stay in the home of my daughter and son-in-law, I noticed an intriguing list posted on their kitchen wall. Upon inquiry, I found out that this was their Marriage Like-List, one for each of them.
Based upon a very simple foundational question, this list loomed as a constant reminder to each of them of practical things to do for the other spouse: What does _________ (spouse’s name) like?
Under my son-in-law’s name were various items such as:
- Participating in his building projects.
- Giving him little gifts.
- Working out with him.
- Letting him expound on exercise science.
Under my daughter’s name were various items such as:
- Giving her back rubs.
- Asking good questions.
- Sitting down and talking.
- Helping with the children.
There were actually about a two-dozen items on each list, all ranging from the general to very specific. What they all represented was a thoughtful collection of personalized “likes” and desires that each spouse had a chance to express, even spell out.
God and Marriage: Love and Respect
If you consider each sample line item above, you’ll see that they somewhat align with one or more of Chapman’s 5 love languages. Taken further, you’ll notice that all fall under the powerful Biblical mandate in Ephesians 5 for husbands and wives to love and respect each other. God had it right all along.
This concept was elaborated upon nicely in the 2004 book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs. He reduces marital strife and conflict to the primary emotional needs of love and respect as highlighted in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Eggerichs outlines the common occurrence in marriage he calls the “Crazy Cycle” where withholding of love begets the withholding of respect which begets the withholding of love and so on. “Without love, she reacts without respect and without respect, he reacts without love.”
Attention to this natural law of marital relationships will pay dividends to your marriage and punctuate the truth of Godly wisdom.
Practical, Simple Living
The Marriage Like-List can help you put into practice both the love and respect that you and your spouse need. Yes, a list on a wall can do wonders for implementing timeless Truth. But do not interpret this as a mere token bullet list of niceties for your spouse. My daughter and son-in-law very carefully and deliberately developed each other’s list with clear discussion and sensitivity. They take the Biblical mandate of love and respect very seriously as a critical key for a healthy marriage. Makes sense given guidance and direction from the Author and Creator of the Marriage institution.
Men: Are you loving your wife? Women: Are you respecting your husband?
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:31-33