The Seven Virtues of a Godly Husband
By Rod Nichols (Rod@RodNichols.com)
George is a successful businessman in his fifties. He grew up in a Christian home and now serves in his church as an Elder. George has been married to his wife Claire, also a long-time Christian, for thirty-three years. They have two grown daughters who are married and have given George and Claire three beautiful grandchildren. Sounds like another wonderful Christian marriage, right? Wrong! Claire has just informed George that she doesn’t want to be married to him anymore and that she is moving out. George is shocked, as he thought they had a pretty good marriage, compared to most. When he asks Claire why she is leaving, she sites many reasons that boil down to George has not been a godly husband.
This is a fictional story, but one that rings with truth derived from counseling with couples who are either struggling, separated, or recently divorced. Christian marriages are under heavy attack by our enemy, the devil. Jesus told us that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10 NIV) In these later days, Satan is doing his best to kill and destroy Christian marriages and he has been very successful, as studies from George Barna report that there is a higher divorce rate among born-again Christians than the rest of the world.
As I interview and counsel married couples, there seems to be one key. Men have not been taught how to be godly husbands. God created man first, to be the covering for the women and children. The husband is the shield for the family. When a husband is not in his spiritual position, it opens the door for the devil to attack the marriage. So, many good Christian men are allowing the devil to attack their wives and children, without even knowing that it is happening. I know, because I was one of those husbands for many years.
For many years, I would put on my “church face” after arguing with my wife all the way to church. To those around me, I seemed like a godly man on Sunday, but the rest of the week, I was a man of the world. Because of this my marriage was on the rocks regularly, my children were struggling, and at times our life was a living hell.
This all changed in the spring of 1997, when I attended a Promise Keepers stadium event. God got my attention and began teaching me how to be a godly husband. Karen, my wife will tell you that I came home from that event a different man, but there were still struggles, as the change was not instant. It took God several years to transform me in the man I am today. During those years He showed me seven virtues that as they became a part of me, dramatically impacted my marriage. Today, I have the most amazing marriage and God is now calling me to teach what I have learned to other men, so that they too may have what I call a “miracle marriage.” Here are the seven virtues, as God taught them to me.
Virtue One: Selfless
By nature, I think most men are selfish. I know that I was and many of the men I counsel come off that way. When a man is focused on himself, he cannot be a godly husband. The first step for every man is to get his eyes off his personal needs and on to God. Many men think of themselves as the “provider” in the family, when in reality, God is the provider. A husband, who is not receiving from God, cannot possibly provide for his family. The best ways to receive from God are through meditation over His Word and prayer. In order to change my selfish focus, God asked me to give Him the first hour of every day. I would invest the first 30 minutes meditating over the scriptures – reading and asking God how what I read applied to my life. Then I would turn on some worship music, lie on the floor, and just bask in his glory. It was during these times that I realized how selfish I really was.
Once God had turned me from self-focused to God-focused, he began to teach me about serving my wife. Once again, He took me to His Word, Ephesians 5:22 (NIV), “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Jesus loved people selflessly; to the point of being willing to give up His life for even those who hated Him. WOW! Could I possibly serve my wife in that way? God assured me that I could. It began by waking every day with the thought, “what could I do today to make my wife’s life better?” God would plant ideas such as making her breakfast, ironing her clothes, writing her a short love note, bringing her flowers to work, cooking her dinner, or doing the laundry. At first it was like a game to me – how many things could I do for my wife every day (yes, I’m a typical competitive man), but over time, it became part of me and now it’s part of my nature. The result has been amazing, because now my wife wants to submit to her loving, serving husband.
God taught me about selflessness in all aspects of my relationship. One key area was listening. Frankly, he’s still working on that area and probably will the rest of my life. In the past, I would be watching television, working on the computer, or reading and my wife would begin talking. I was good at giving her all the appropriate responses – “Uh huh”, “that’s great dear”, “really?”, “that’s interesting”, and so on. Some times that worked, but most of the time she realized I wasn’t listening and to her it meant that I didn’t care about her. Again the Lord took me to His Word and showed me that Jesus often told the people to “listen” before he started telling a parable. He showed me that I was putting my wants and needs before my wife’s when I didn’t listen to her. Now, when she starts talking, I stop doing whatever it is I’m doing, focus totally on her and interact by asking questions or making legitimate comments. Communication was once a huge problem for us, but primarily due to my taking the time to listen, has improved dramatically.
Lastly, God taught me to take my focus off my needs in the area of sex. Our sexual relationship has always been good, but as we got older, it wasn’t as satisfying. When I questioned my wife about her seemingly disinterest, she would pass it off as just part of growing older. However, the Lord began teaching me through the book of Song of Solomon, how I was supposed to treat my wife. I changed focus from my needs to hers. Women need more intimacy – hugging, kissing, caressing, then men do. This small change has vaulted our sexual relationship to a whole new level.
A selfish husband will always have a struggling marriage. A selfless man, who is first focused on God and then on his wife, will have a “miracle marriage.”
Virtue Two: Humble
Hand-in-hand with selfishness is pride. Having enjoyed a great deal of business and monetary success, I was full of self-pride. Many of the men I have counseled also exhibit pride at different levels. Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) reads, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” I know that in my case and the cases of many men I know, pride did lead to choices that lead to disgrace. Unfortunately, I was not a very willing student in the area of humility and so the Lord had to humble me through some very uncomfortable situations. Eventually God’s discipline turned me around, allowing me to be an effective priest of our household.
Jesus was the perfect example of humility. Paul taught about His humility in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV), “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” If there was ever a man who deserved to be proud, it was Jesus – God incarnate – and yet, He chose to humble himself to the point that He was willing to wash the feet of His disciples, be humiliated, tortured, and crucified for all of us.
A godly husband is man who has humbled himself to the point of being a servant to his wife. Guys, put the ego away, as it offers no benefit in marriage. Instead, take on the attitude Jesus exhibited and be willing to wash your wife’s feet daily. Honor your wife, above yourself. 1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV) teaches us, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” God rewarded Jesus for His humility and He also rewards a humble husband.
Virtue Three: Loving
Most men are lovers of themselves, not lovers of their wives. I have heard so many men say that they have fallen out of love with their wives and thus have sought love in adulterous affairs. What most men do not understand is that love is not a feeling or emotion, rather it is an action. The Greek word used in the New Testament is “agapao” which means to welcome or entertain. It is an action verb. The only way love will stay in a marriage is through action. I can tell you from experience, both mine and others, that love is hard work, but very worthwhile work.
The Apostle Paul calls love the greatest spiritual gift. Godly love comes from Father God through Jesus Christ. There can be no true love unless husbands and wives are walking with the Lord and drawing love from Him. The biggest problem I see in marriages is that most husbands are looking to their wives for love, when they should be looking to God and then when God fills them with love, letting it overflow into their wives. Paul taught about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV), “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” When I was struggling in this area, I found myself in 1 Corinthians 13 every day for many weeks. God would ask me to compare my form of love to that in the scriptures and I found mine to be woefully lacking in all areas. As I immersed myself in the scriptures, my love started to look more and more like that which Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 13. I encourage every husband who wants to have an incredible marriage to immerse him self in chapter 13.
The Lord also taught me that my human love was always conditional, was why my form love just never seemed to be enough for my wife. He taught me that His form of love is unconditional. Throughout time, no matter what we have done – even to the point of cursing God and killing His Son – God has always loved us. John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God loved mankind so much that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son in order to redeem us from our sinful nature. That kind of love baffles me and I’m not sure we will ever completely understand that kind of love, while still here on earth. Colossians 3:19 in the Message Bible says, “Husbands, go all out in love for your wives.” Being a life-long athlete, this made sense to me, because I have “gone all out” for many athletic events and now I could put that same type of effort into loving my wife. Since learning this, I focus a great deal of effort every day to showing my wife how much I love her.
Part of the work of love is an area that is sorely neglected by men and a woman’s number one need and that is affection. 1 Corinthians 7:3 (NKJV) teaches us, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her…” Men have a tendency to link love and sex, whereas woman will link love and affection. So, what is affection? Here it is directly from a woman: “If it was up to me, my husband and I would spend HOURS upon HOURS just talking, staring into each other's eyes... and not have anything else going. No TV, no loud music, no noise at all. Just us. We would kiss, giggle, and do silly things. And it'd be okay if we ran out of things to talk about, because then we could just hold each other close and think about what we're feeling for each other.” For most men, their idea of affection is a pat on the read end. In studies on failed marriages, one of the top areas sited is lack of affection. Husbands need to ask their wives what affection means to them and then begin doing those things. At first it will be awkward and uncomfortable, but as your wife responds, it will become more natural and enjoyable. It will definitely improve your marriage.
One of the biggest problems I found in my own marriage is that I thought I was loving my wife, but she wasn’t feeling loved. I was showing her love, the same way I liked to be loved and that was the problem. Everyone has a primary way they like to be loved and they fall into three main areas: verbal, visual, or touch. Think of what someone could do that would make you feel loved? Would it be the words they used; something they did for you or gave you; or would they touch you in a certain way? That is your primary love language. Now, you know what needs to happen in order for you to feel loved, but it’s likely that your wife’s language is different, so ask her the same question. Once you know her love language, you can begin to love her the way that is going to make her feel loved and she will do the same. If you really want to research love languages in greater detail, read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Better yet, do the complete study with your wife and discover your love languages together.
A godly husband is focused ever day on loving his wife in the way that God loves us – unconditionally and sacrificially.
Virtue Four: Kind
Wife abuse has risen through the years. Recently the Chief of Police in our town shot his wife in the head and they turned the gun on him self. The newspapers are filled with stories of husbands who are killing their wives. Yes, even Christian husbands are abusers. If you are abusing your wife, you need to stop now and seek help. Colossians 3:19 (NIV) reads, “…Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” This is a commandment in the Word of God and should not be disregarded. Your actions are ungodly and will have a life-long effect on your wife. Talk with a Pastor at your church about getting help.
I have never been an abuser, but prior to our marriage, my wife was married to an abuser. Even though she had been divorced from him for many years when we met, she carried the scars into our marriage. It was my continued kindness that finally broke through the barriers she had created to protect herself. You may not be an abuser, but your wife may have a background of child or spouse abuse. If you are not sure, talk with your wife.
Many husbands are not physical abusers, but they are emotional abusers. They don’t beat their wives with their hands, but rather berate them with their tongue. Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) reads, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” You can speak life or death into your wife’s life with your tongue. James understood the power of the tongue and the evil that is in it: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6 NIV) When I speak of abuse with the tongue, I am not just talking about angry words spoken, but also words that put down or degrade your spouse. Godly husbands engage their spirit before letting their tongue loose.
During my times of struggle, the Lord dealt with me in so many negative areas and then taught me how to be truly kind to my wife. I learned to be kind with my words, by complimenting her daily – on her looks, the clothes she wore, things she did, and little successes she experienced. One of the great management books of our time, The One Minute Manager teaches finding people doing things right and then giving them a one minute praise. This is a great practice for husbands. Instead of seeing all the things your wife is doing wrong and reprimanding her, strive to find only the things she is doing right and then praise her. He also brought to mind creative ways to show kindness, such as small gifts, flowers, love notes, special dates, and doing her chores around the house.
A godly husband realizes how kind God has been to him and then funnels that kindness to his wife.
Virtue Five: Gentle
Men, as a whole, have a reputation of being rough and tough, but when it comes to women, they would rather have husbands who are gentle. Jesus was the model man – a unique combination of power and gentleness or meekness. The world tends to view meekness as weakness, but in God’s world meekness is power under control. It’s like a small stream that over thousands of years carves a huge canyon out of rock.
Many men struggle with anger. I was one of those and many of the men I counsel struggle as well. I believe that this is due to our culture. Men are taught from a very early age not to show their emotions; particularly not to cry. In a high stress situation, most typically a woman will cry and a man will get angry. Women allow their emotions to come out in tears, but for men their pent up emotions explode in often destructive anger. Angry words spoken to wives are forgiven, but never forgotten. If you struggle with anger, ask the Lord to help you. It took me several years and even still it pops its ugly head out every once in awhile. Much of my anger is gone, because the Lord taught me to release my emotions through conversation and sometimes tears. Yes, real men do cry! Slowly, God replaced my anger with peace. The kind of peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7 NKJV).
Another huge issue that I had to deal with was control. I needed things to go my way or I was going to make it miserable for everyone. I also had a huge need to be right, so I would argue until people would just give up. I see control issues to varying degrees in many men I know. What God revealed to me is that I’m never really in control anyway – He is. The problem with control issues in marriage is that they usually lead to manipulation. I know many husbands who have manipulated their wives and children for years. I used to be one of those husbands and I’m sure that my wife and children despised my actions at times. As the Lord began to teach my how to be a godly husband, He showed me Jesus once again. He pointed out that Jesus had the power to control every situation, but instead chose the gentle path of submission. I learned to submit to the Father and became a gentle man that my family loves.
Godly husbands are filled with the peace of God and treat their wives and family with the gentleness of a lamb.
Virtue Six: Honest
A huge issue for women is trust and as my wife and I counsel Christian couples we find this to be an area of struggle for couples. In some cases we encounter blatant dishonesty and other times it’s more miscommunication or lack of communication. My wife and I struggled with this issue for years and it still comes up every once in awhile. There have been many times when I’ve learned something that was important to both my wife and I but forgot to tell her. There have also been times when I inadvertently left forgot to tell her details that made it look like I was being dishonest. It wasn’t my intent, but that’s how it looked. As I counsel other men, I find that men have a tendency to not share enough detail for their wives to feel that they are being honest. Each time one of these situations crops up, it diminishes the trust level and opens the door for Satan to start lying to your wife.
Another area is what is commonly referred to as a “little white lie.” It’s so easy to do and so common even in Christian marriages, but it is devastating to the area of trust. The best rule of thumb is don’t lie to your wife, not matter the circumstances and if you catch yourself in a lie, correct it quickly and ask for her forgiveness. Women are a lot like God in this area – if you don’t ask forgiveness, they will hold it against you forever and if you do, it is forgotten.
A huge trust area is money. My wife and I recently counseled a Christian couple who were heading toward separation and divorce. One of their biggest issues was the handling of money. The trust issue on both sides had gotten so bad that they each had separate accounts. In Matthew 12:25, Jesus said that “a house divided against itself will not stand.” This has been the case with this couple as they have refused to change the situation and are now separated. My wife and I even had some issues in this area, but slowly the Lord showed us that we needed to be in unity and make all financial decisions together. Now, we don’t make any decisions that would require spending over $50 without have a discussion first.
A godly husband doesn’t withhold information or lie to his wife and his word is always the truth.
Virtue Seven: Faithful
Infidelity, even in the Church, is on the increase, which is partly responsible for the increase in Christian divorces. Infidelity falls into two areas – a physical or emotional affair with another person or lustful activities like pornography and strip clubs. The later has become the most prevalent in the Christian community. New Man Magazine has offered a number of excellent articles about pornography and how affects marriages. I have seen statistics that indicate that as many as 70% of the men sitting in church on Sunday are involved in some sort of pornography. I believe that pornography is the primary tool Satan is using to keep men from fulfilling their God-given purposes. If you are struggling with pornography of any kind, go to the following web site and enroll in their program, as it has a very high success rate: www.settingcaptivesfree.com/home.
The key with pornography is that it is a hidden sin. The devil deceives men into believing that that isn’t anything wrong with it and that it won’t harm their marriage. Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28 NKJV) If you are involved in pornography, know that you are sinning and need to repent before God and your wife. Whether hidden or not, it will damage your marriage and is not part of being a godly husband.
Women are looking for faithful men to provide them with security in a very insecure world. Wives want a sanctified home in which they can live securely and they look to their husbands to provide that. Anything a husband does, such as pornography, gambling, cheating, lying, or any other kind of deceit, will damage the security of the home and the trust of the wife. It is important for you to remember that every activity will affect your wife, on way or the other. Get your eyes off the world and the vices of the world and get them back on Jesus and His ways. Spit in the face of the devil by changing your ways. Instead of spending time in those worldly activities, invest your time in the Word of God and in prayer. Your life will change dramatically and so will your marriage.
Lastly, women are looking for dependable men; men of their word. They want husbands who will do what they say they are going to do. Your word should be like gold, not only with your wife, but in every other situation. If you say you are going to do something or be somewhere, then do it. The devil will do everything possible to keep you from being a man of your word, so you must be strong and resist him. James 4:7 (NKJV) tells us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” When you feel that rat tempting you to do something you know is not right, resist him by getting out your Bible and reading or by praying for someone you know isn’t saved. That will send the devil packing and he will leave you alone.
Husbands have been anointed to be the priest of the household, which means that God has given you responsibility for the purification of your home and family. Any form of sin opens the door for Satan to come into your home and wreak havoc with your family. Each day, you should get up with a servants heart toward your family and a warrior spirit toward the devil and his forces. Each day you should seek the Lord for how you can serve your wife and family. Each day you should read Ephesians 6, put on the armor of God, and go to battle against the devil for your home and family.
Husbands, if your marriage is not what you expected or had hoped for, then it’s up to you to change it. Stop blaming it on your wife. I have seen time and time again, including in my own marriage, where the husband strives to become a godly husband and the wife suddenly changes into the wife he had always wanted. There is a spiritual order in marriage and when the husband is in line – no sin and seeking the Lord every day – the wife and family will also fall in line. Sometimes this happens within days and sometimes it takes months, but it will happen. I encourage all husbands reading this article to begin today. Get rid of the sin in your life. Ask God’s forgiveness and then go to your wife and ask her forgiveness for being a poor husband. Then, get in the Word of God every day. Tell the Lord that you want to be a godly husband. Resist the devils temptation to go back to your old ways. If you do these things, you will watch your marriage morph into the most magnificent thing you have ever seen. Then you will be able to testify to other couples who are struggling.
A godly husband is faithful physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The world is crying out for godly husbands who will take responsibility for their family. Satan is winning victory after victory, as husbands refuse to become the godly men that God intended. Women are looking for men who will be selfless, humble, loving, kind, gentle, honest, and faithful. They are looking for husbands who will take their role seriously and become the husband of the Bible. A man that will love them as Jesus loved the church, by putting her needs above his own. Wives are looking for a husband who will honor and protect her. God created a husband and wife in the beginning. He intended marriage to be perfect and wonderful and that’s still His will. Isn’t it time for you to set your will aside and give your marriage to God’s will and His ways? If you do, you will be amazed and in awe of His awesome healing power. The choice is yours – your way or His way!
Rod Nichols is an Associate Pastor at Truth and Grace Foursquare Church in Tacoma, WA. He is also a published author and accomplished public speaker and teacher. Rod’s latest articles and books can be found at www.RodNichols.com. Rod is married with five children. He and his wife Karen live in beautiful Washington State. Rod is available as a freelance writer. If you'd like to hire him, e-mail Rod@RodNichols.com.