Husbands, I want to tell you a story because I want to communicate an experience that can be remarkably powerful for you and your wife. She needs a good bath.
Now, work with me here, people. What you do in your bathroom is entirely up to you. But I’m actually talking about a bath that God commands you to give your wife; the one infinitely more awakening than sudsing her shoulders or washing her hair.
Let me explain, okay?
My husband married an incredibly insecure woman. My deep desires for acceptance and achievement had left me feeling out of control, in light of the vast scope of others’ opinions and my own sky-high standards.
Out of control, that is, except for the disciplines I could impose on myself. And those “holes” in my heart had left me precariously close to anorexia. I worked out relentlessly, consumed salad for every meal but breakfast, and knew the calorie count on every cereal I liked. My faith was active, even central to my life. But subtle, godly-looking idols (strict disciplines, self-deprivation) threatened to consume me.
You might even say they were eating me alive.
It made that whole “naked and unashamed” thing in my marriage somewhat of a challenge.
Because of my insecurity, my relationship often lacked true vulnerability. Despite some transparency, my appetite for approval demanded I hide any real weakness and sin I was struggling with.
This affected my life in multiple ways, such as:
- It kept me from exposing the portions of my heart that desperately needed unconditional love.
- It kept me from receiving a display of the Gospel: for “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
- It kept me from allowing love and mutual encouragement from other people. Pride gave no one the opportunity of expressing love to me on that level.
And all of this inevitably led to loneliness—and a lot of isolation.
Fortunately, the Lord is jealous for me. So is my husband. I believe God equipped my husband to recognize my unmet desires’ threatening our relationship. The two of them directed me back to the Living Water.
My husband set the tone for true fellowship of our souls together by:
- Being authentic about his own sin and creating an environment of safety for me.
- Acknowledging our dependence on God’s exclusive perfection—not something I earned for myself.
- Wrapping me with acceptance like some gigantic, fluffy towel: not out of flattery, but out of love despite the ways I crashed and burned.
We laughed at, and prayed over, our glaring weaknesses. My husband’s determination to have a marriage in which we were both “naked and unashamed” in every way transformed us—transformed me.
He spoke God’s truth to me when I craved it, but didn’t even know I needed it. My husband cared more about the beauty of my soul than about my comfort staying where I was at. He didn’t hesitate to lovingly, truthfully point out the ways that lies were conquering me.
See, what he did was a remarkable job of acting on God’s call to husbands in Ephesians 5:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and give himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, that she might be holy and without blemish.“
It would be easy, I think, to be your wife’s best friend and yet not call her up to more beauty, more holiness. “Fun” friendship is easier than creating an environment where you’re gently sculpting that heart-level loveliness in her, chipping away at the sin in you, and in her, and forming holiness beneath your hands.
But I love this image of a husband bathing his wife with God’s Word. It’s so intimate; so married. A husband and wife are alone, and he’s tenderly sponging away the grime of the day, rubbing off the dirt she’s accumulated between her toes. Tendrils of hair are getting wet as he’s talking with her, whispering how much he adores her while he grooms her, and the filth of her body is washed away. His own hands are full of bubbles, and she feels so loved.
Does your wife need one of these baths?