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"Happy Wife, Happy Life"

"submitting to one another in the fear of God."

Ephesians 5:21 (NKJV)

Today, July 9th marks my wife's and my 35th wedding anniversary and as usual we entertain questions as to what is our secret to 35 years of marriage. Every marriage is unique and what works for one couple doesn't necessarily work the same for others. For my wife and I what I would call the so called secret to 35 years of marriage is "submission". 

Yet I'm not talking about my wife submitting to me but rather me submitting to her. Through the years I have discovered far more pleasure in my marriage by learning to submit myself to her rather than trying to get her to submit to me. I'm constantly learning it is Jesus who is the model of submission, and how His love for the Father was all the motivation He needed to live His entire earthly life in perfect submission to the Holy Spirit. 

Its so important to understand that a man never loses his place as the head of his household by submitting to his wife's authority as a joint heir of promise. When a husband submits to his wife he merely models the way God always intended things to be done from the beginning, in love. Make no mistake about it. A redeemed life is a submitted life. 

Most everyone has heard the expression, "Happy Wife Happy Life". The words adorn everything from coffee mugs to t-shirts and it usually carries a negative connotation towards women along with it that somehow implies that unless a wife is happy nobody else is or can be happy. As a pastor who has done my fair share of marriage counseling through the years I can honestly tell you that relationships like that don't last very long. Eventually selfish people become single people.

When I think about what it means by "Happy Wife, Happy Life" I think of the privilege God has blessed me with as a husband to prefer my wife's needs over my own each day and not just on our anniversary. I prefer to look at "Happy Wife, Happy Life" as a goal I seek to achieve each day of my life and not a burden. No one forced me to get married. I chose my wife, she chose me and 35 years later we choose us! 

I don't live in fear that if my wife's not happy she will make life miserable for me. If anything, I know I would be miserable if I felt there was nothing I could do to serve her and make her happy. There is a quote by Robert Heinlein that captures best what I am trying to say, "Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." The apostle Paul put it like this, "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself" (Ephesians 5:28).

Yes, friends, I throughly enjoy when my wife is happy and I am extremely thankful to our Lord for allowing me another year of life to show her my love and not merely tell her that I do, though I do enjoy telling her very much every day that I love her, and that she is very beautiful to me and that after 35 years of marriage, I still absolutely adore her. Today, on our anniversary I look forward to preferring her and serving her, providing for and protecting her just as Ephesians 5:29-31 exhorts all husbands to do for their wives when it says,

"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."


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