Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. But, remember, this means that the husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the Church, when he sacrificed himself for her.”

Sacrificial love meets supportive love – the husband and wife team in a nutshell! Successful marriages are built that way. It’s interesting how the same words read by different people can evoke different interpretations where sacrificial love goes out the window and makes way for conditional love: “I only love you if you do what I say” and then on the other side of the spectrum comes the enabler saying: “Whatever you’re doing, whichever way you’re going, I’m going to support you.” That marriage would be a toxic cocktail and couldn’t be further from the intentions of the author of this letter to the Ephesians.

Relationships are challenged where self-interest gets in the way. A marriage partnership is unequally yoked if one partner keeps on giving and the other partner keeps on receiving, a classic example of marital dysfunction.

I believe there’s no better training ground teaching us how to love well than that of a marriage relationship. I got married late in life, so I missed out on the fun for the better part of my life. I learned more about love in 13 years of marriage than in the preceding single years of my adult life. Of course this is not to underestimate the effects of friendships or partnerships, however, according to my experience there is only so much commitment we have in friendships. At the end of the day I go home and do what I please. Not so in marriage relationships. When I come home from work and close the door my spouse is still there, which means marriage forces us to work things out. If we can’t work things out, we stop being married. That’s why marriage is a force to be reckoned with. If marriage works it rocks. If it doesn’t work it sucks.

When we learn the ABCs of sacrificing and supporting on a team we can bring that experience into our marriage, and the success rate of this marriage will go up. Bottom line is: we need to learn how to sacrifice ourselves and how to support one another since this goes against the grain of human nature. As with many other things in life, the lifestyle of love boils down to learning by doing. In Christ we see a Teacher who does what He says. We can learn from Him. Awareness is our first step. Our second step: do it – learn the lifestyle of love!

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