Ephesians 5 has to be one of the least understood passage in the New Testament. You know all that husbands as head of house and submission stuff.
Modern and enlightened ones miss over the part that men are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church . This doesn’t mean that wives are not partners or that husbands make all of the decisions and are free to order their wives around.
Monsignor Pope has some great advice for husbands (it applies to wives too) in his post How to Handle a Woman
“Alright men, It’s not that complicated is it? Love her. Simply love her, love her!
In marriage counseling I will sometimes ask the husband privately, Do you love your wife…Honestly now, do you really love her? The answer is not always obvious. Many people confuse mere toleration with love. Because I put up with you means I must love you, somehow.
But my question goes deeper: Do you have a deep affection, a warmth, a compassion and desire for your wife? Do you like her? Some of the men who are more honest with themselves realize that many of these qualities are no longer operative and that, at best, they have a tense toleration for their wife. And there are often protests as well: Father, you don’t know how my wife can be!….She’s hard to love. (Actually I do have some idea. We priests are not mere bachelors and we too are called to love some people who are difficult to love). Love remains the answer. And so I inevitably invite the husband to pray for a miracle:
When you go home, get on your knees and pray for the miracle to really love your wife. Pray for the miracle of a tender and humble heart that will love her with a deep, abiding, compassionate, and passionate love. Pray to love her unconditionally, not because she deserves it, or has earned it, not because she feeds you or sleeps with you. Pray to love her “for no good reason.” Ask God to give you the same love he has for you. You and I are not easy to love, we have not earned God’s love and don’t really deserve it. But God loves us still the same. Yes, pray for a miracle. Your flesh may think of 50 reasons to be resentful and unloving toward your wife. Pray for the miracle to love her any way, deeply and truly. Pray for a new heart, filled with God’s love.”
In the end, the only way to “handle” a woman is to love her.
I would add one important point in my humble opinion. Very often in a marriage, especially in the early years, love is an act of will. It is a choice. I love you. It is not a feeling. A sentiment. Lust or mere attraction.
Christian love and marriage is not for wimps.
Time to Man and Woman Up!