If you want to love your wife more, learn to let her love you less — less than she loves Jesus. Jesus plainly declares, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Without stating it explicitly, Jesus’s list obviously includes husbands and wives (and all other relationships).
If I can be honest, I hated being second in my wife’s life. I would find myself struggling with jealousy over the time she spent with our six kids, her ministry commitments, and yes, I am embarrassed to say, even her devotional time with the Lord. Although I’ve been a pastor for longer than I have been married (26 years!), my selfishness had a seemingly endless ability to rationalize why I should be the most important and urgent priority in my wife’s life.
Young husbands, this is what I’ve learned (and I am learning) about being a godly husband who desires to love his wife well: let her love Jesus more than you. The most important and the most urgent need in our lives every day is to love Christ above all. Everyone and everything else must be second to loving Jesus — and that includes her love for you.
Your wife needs to love Jesus more than she loves you. And you should want her to. Here are a few reminders why.
He Makes a Better Covenant
The miracle of marriage is how, by means of a lifelong covenant of sacrificial love, God binds a man to his wife as one flesh (Genesis 2:24). And he warns us not to separate what he has joined together (Matthew 19:5–6).
Jesus’s covenant with your born-again wife is so much better than that. His new covenant is eternal. It secures for your wife a future which will only be “for better” and never “for worse” (Revelation 21:3–5). You may wash your wife with the word, but Jesus is the Word by which she knows God. He secured for her a new covenant relationship with God whereby you are not the basis of her relationship with God (Hebrews 8:10) — Jesus is. Because of his sacrifice, the breaking of his body and the pouring out of his blood, on her behalf (Luke 22:19–20).
He Knows What She Needs
I worked hard to save up for my wife’s simple but elegant wedding ring. Twenty-five years later, she still loves it. I’m sure your wife appreciates the ring you gave her — and the countless other gifts you’ve blessed her with over the years. However, no matter how sacrificial or costly the gifts are that you give to your wife, Jesus’s gifts are simply better, and they bless her immeasurably more.
Jesus, the Son of God, became man in order to give your wife the gift of his life (John 10:17–18). He paid for the forgiveness of all of her sins (Colossians 1:14). He rose from the dead to secure eternal life for her (1 Corinthians 15:20–21). He graces her with his perfect righteousness in order to reconcile her to his holy Father (2 Corinthians 5:18, 21).
He offers her the true Bread of Life that satisfies her hunger (John 6:35). He gives her Living Water that will forever quench her thirst (John 4:13–14). He will share with her his inheritance of all things (Ephesians 1:11). Your gifts are good. His are simply better, and they are the only ones she truly needs.
He Is Her High Priest
I love praying for my wife, and I rejoice in knowing that because of Christ, the Father hears and answers my prayers for her (John 14:13–14). But Jesus’s prayers are better. Jesus, the omnipotent eternal Creator of everything seen and unseen (Colossians 1:16), became man in order to experience life as human (John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 2:14). As the God-man (Colossians 2:9), Jesus knows more about what your wife’s needs than you do. He understands her weaknesses and actually sympathizes with them more than you or I do (Hebrews 4:14–16).
And he will never stop being there for her. He tasted death for her once in offering a better sacrifice for her than you ever could. Then he rose from the dead to eternally intercede for her. After fifty years, after countless years of eternity, Jesus will always be there for her (Hebrews 7:28). Jesus is simply a better priest for your wife than you are. So much so that her heart will only be fully satisfied when it is delighting in him, her High Priest.
He Loves and Leads Her Better
When God super-glued you and your wife into one new person, he made you the head, the leader (Ephesians 5:23; Exodus 18:25). A good husband will therefore lead his wife, not in a domineering way but in a sacrificial way, considering her needs as more important than his own (Matthew 20:25–27).
Jesus is the quintessential sacrificial leader (John 13:14). He is the leader who laid down his life for his sheep. He is the good shepherd who knows where all of the greener pastures and still waters lie (Psalm 23; John 10:11). He is the definition of what it means to love (1 John 3:16). He loved her first, and he loves her more (John 15:13). You can only love her well when you love her from the overflow of the love that he gives to you (John 15:5).
Jesus is simply a better leader. His sacrifices prove it. His wisdom is infinite, and his power unlimited. By means of his leadership he saved her from Satan, death, and hell. So let her worship him as her true and greater Groom.
A Husband’s Prayer
Think for a moment what you would deny your wife if you jealously hoarded her affections. Now think about all she’ll gain from Jesus if she continues to love him more and more and more than you. He is the one she needs.
Brothers, here’s the blessing: freeing your wife to love Jesus more is a win-win situation for both of you. Jesus can transform her into a better wife than you ever could. So guard against being bitter against your wife (Colossians 3:19) and don’t be jealous of Jesus. Freely give your wife the gifts of encouraging, praying for, and rejoicing in her love for Jesus.
Let’s all pray that our wives will give more and more love to Jesus (Psalm 73:25–28).
Whom [does my wife] have in heaven but you?
And besides you, [let her] desire nothing on earth.
Her flesh and her heart may fail,
But God be the strength of her heart and her portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from you will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to you.
But as for my wife, let your nearness be her good;
Let her make you, the Lord God her refuge,
That she may tell of all your works.
Lord, please bless my wife to love you more.
Yes, even more than me. Amen.