We often focus on what we will get out of a marriage relationship:  Is this person my soul mate?  Does she speak to me?  Does she affirm me?  Do her strengths compliment me?  And so forth. 

Perhaps it’s time to start focusing on what we men can bring to a marriage relationship and to start working on these areas right now in our lives, so that we will have something to bring to the table (a man’s dowry, if you will) before making a lifelong commitment.

“It is painful, being a man, to have to assert the privilege, or the burden, which Christianity lays upon my own sex.  I am crushingly aware of how inadequate most of us are, on our actual and historical individualities, to fill the place prepared for us.”

— C.S. Lewis from God in the Dock

As men, we are expected (by society) to be cool, dress fashionably, make a lot of money, drive a sports car, have chiseled looks, and have it all together in order to be “marriage material.”  As Christians, we are to be God-fearing, prayerful, seminary scholars on the path to eldership within our church.  Since most of us fall short of these so-called expectations, what can we do to bring the most to our marriages and where do we start?  We can begin by delving deep into the following passage.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).

How did Christ actually love the church?  Simply put, through sacrificial and sanctifying love.

Sacrificial Love

As a single adult, the term sacrificial is not at the forefront of my thoughts.  My day usually revolves around me, my needs, my wants and my desires.  However, for me to prepare to be the best husband I can be, I must begin now to incorporate sacrificial thinking into my daily life.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (Ephesians 5:31).

Jesus so loved the church that he gave himself up for her through his death.  If we are to love our wives someday as Christ loved the church, we must be prepared to die to ourselves in many ways that are a part of our everyday lives.  As two people become one, individual freedom, time and desires should be replaced with (or at least negotiated) with marital goals, obligations and activities.

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?  (Acts 9:4).

Persecution of the church caused pain deep within Jesus’ soul as indicated by His response to Saul.  Christ chose to suffer with His bride; husbands must be willing to share in the struggles of theirs.  It is not only a commitment, but also a sign of love.  Her problems, disappointments and losses become yours; mine and hers become ours.

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them (John 17:9-10).

Jesus spent His time on earth, including his last moments, praying for Himself, for those closest to Him and for the church.  One of the most intimate things a couple can do is to pray together.  It would only follow that one of the most precious acts that a husband can do for his wife is to pray specifically for her.  Don’t just make it a “dinner time” prayer, go off each day and fervently cover your future wife in all areas of her life.  If you are currently in a relationship, ask how you can pray for her and do it.

I don’t know what it will be like to be married someday, but after all of my years of living single, I recognize that I will need to die to myself in many areas of my life, be prepared to share in both the triumphs and the struggles of my wife, and pray fervently for and with my future mate.