Topical Tuesday: An Open Letter to Husbands

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  1. Word.

    Great post Danny!

  2. Lauren C says:

    Wow. Thanks so much for such an awesome insight!

  3. tnrural says:

    So much sorrow could be avoided if men would be well. . . men. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Tom says:

    Gotta agree Danny, 27 years, 8 kids and 5 grands later, I’ve finally realized that not only do I not have all the answers, but I still don’t have all the questions!

    But I do know a few things…
    I know the One that does know..
    I know He brought my wife and I together..
    I know he requires me to give myself for her as He gave himself for me…
    And while I don’t always walk it out as I should, His grace is sufficient when I don’t…

  5. Adam Hoffman says:

    Danny,

    Thanks for the post. I remember when you first shared that letter with me. I am sending good info to some young married (Am I still in that category?) and will pass this along.

  6. Jeremy Bergwerff says:

    Danny,
    Great Post. My brother will be getting married in a few weeks and I’ll be sharing this with him. Granted that they’ll be in the honeymoon phase for a bit, I still want to get it in his hands. Same for my brother-in-law. We’ve been married for about the same time (though not to each other) and I think this is a super reminder for both of us.

    Thanks for the tangible, concrete steps and the obvious passion. I don’t claim to know how or why God works in his many ways, but perhaps those of us who benefit from this letter, driven from the pain you experienced a few years back, can be part of something good to come out of something bad.

  7. Todd Dimsdale says:

    Thanks for the reminders and the passion Danny. Any married man needs to hear and live these messages constantly, not just newlyweds.

  8. Dissenting Opinion says:

    This is a terrible article.

    First, you assert that there is a single reason that marriages fall apart: “the man.” Marriages fall apart for all sorts of reasons, including incompatible life goals, realizing differences over children, career changes, growing in different directions, or even *gasp* getting married too young to know what you really want. (If you were going to attribute a single cause to marriage failure, I’d think you’d address this last one before “the man.”)

    Secondly, you assert that husbands behave differently than their usual selves in order to get a girlfriend, and that the only way to maintain a marriage is to continue living as though you’re someone else. I’m not a psychologist, but I’d imagine that relationships where both partners are fully aware of what the other person is REALLY like, all ulterior motivations aside, are the most successful. Perhaps if your girlfriend only agreed to marry you because you pretended to not be a slob around her, and in fact you live in your own filth regularly, you shouldn’t have been dating to begin with.

    Finally, I think the overall messages you got from Ephesians were patently ridiculous on several counts. The more modern, non-sexist understanding of how successful relationships work involves a partnership between equals. No “serving,” no “submitting,” no death-of-the-self-on-the-pyre-of-marriage, a much simpler and less dramatic partnership with appropriate give and take from both parties to make it work.

    If you have to “sacrifice your life” in order to make your marriage work, divorce is probably a healthier alternative for everybody involved.

  9. Another Opinion says:

    I agree with many of the things you’ve said in this letter. However, there are also a number of things I take issue with.

    First, is Cynthia’s claim that “The number one cause of marriages falling apart is because the husbands are not stepping up to the plate.” I would recommend John Gottman’s Why Marriages Succeed or Fail for a thorough study of this topic. Suffice to say, “Men not stepping up to the plate,” isn’t one of the categories it brings up.

    Second, you blame the man in this way “(c) he was abdicating his leadership of the home and thereby forcing his wife to take the lead;” But what does the very passage you appeal to (Ephesians 5:22-23) say? “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Notice, “the husband is the head of the wife” is a [i]description[/i] not a command; and “wives, submit to your husbands,” is a [i]command[/i] not a description. And he echoes it again in verse 33. So it is the wives that are commanded to live out the headship of the husband. If we rewrote the verse to comply with your claim, it would read like this, “Husbands, strive to be the heads of your wives. If you are a good enough leader, they will submit to you. If you don’t try to be the head, you’re not, and therefore your wife will be forced to treat you as if you’re not.” It’s almost the complete opposite idea.

    I agree with your other points (a, b, and d) except that you seem to go to far and make it seem as if the women is just a complete victim. (Maybe that is not your intent.) In 1 Corinthians 7:13, Paul commands women to not divorce their unbelieving husbands. If a woman can be victorious in Christ with an unbelieving husband, they can also be with a husband that does not take spiritual leadership, or who is absent, or who loves something else more.

    America has basically the highest divorce-rate on the planet. We also have a low and lowering rate of marriage when compared with many non-Western countries. Finally, we have the most high-maintenance women on the planet. Could there be some connection? Is the problem really that we aren’t living up to the high-expectations that we’ve created, or is that we’ve created those expectations in the first place? Yes, we should love our wives and show them that we love them, as our own bodies. But how does one love one’s own body? By buying it flowers and expensive dinners? (That at least shows love for the American “romance” industry.) By dressing nicely and wearing deodorant? Paul tells us how, in verse 29: “he feeds and cares for it.” Western culture obviously does not know how to make successful marriages. So why do our Christian concepts of ideal romantic love in marriage seem so much like the ideals expressed in Hollywood movies?

    Finally, I find this oft-repeated kind of reasoning amusing: “The husband is the head of the wife, therefore his marriage and family should be the way I say it should.” What does 1 Corinthians 11:3 say? “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is the pastor or some other older gentleman?” No, it says, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” If someone is concerned that husbands aren’t being the heads of their families, maybe he or she should stop jumping on the undermine-the-headship-of-the-husband bandwagon, by trying to put him-or-her-self in the husband’s place.

  10. newbie says:

    I’m new to your blog, really enjoy it, but I have to take exception to this one. And I really take exception to Cynthia’s assessment of marital issues. I’m reading this one of the end of the year favorites, so my comment is a bit late.

    Every couple should read Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. After 20 year of marriage and attending marriage seminars, this is the first book that addresses what both the man and the woman truly need in the marriage. This book has dramatically changed our 20 + year old marriage.
    For years the advice Christian men have been getting is ‘You’re not doing it right. You have to love your wife more.’ It’s secular advice in a biblical context. After reading this book, my wife (and according to her, many of her friends) came to me and apologized for completely misunderstanding what a man needs in a marriage, unconditional respect.
    I have no doubt that many marriages fail because husbands become couch potatoes and forget about the romance that they once lavished upon their wives. And I agree with all the points you encouraged the men to do. But the other side of the coin is how many wives quickly lose that sexual passion after a while and regard the physical aspect of their husbands needs as ‘stupid’. How many wives insist that their husbands take the lead but criticize every move they make as they attempt to lead. It’s often a case of having no authority yet getting all of the blame. If you don’t think like your wife you’re wrong. How many men have to listen to their wives nag and complain daily because they don’t quite measure up? Is it any wonder so many men withdraw from a spouse who may love to him death, but doesn’t really like him or respect him as a person?
    This could be a great article if you told both sides of the story.

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