Rebuild Your Marriage husband lovingly looking at wife
Rebuild Your Marriage 5 minute read

Why I’ve Never Placed My Wife as Number One

Last Updated: April 7, 2017

Why I've Never Placed My Wife as Number One

I’ve never placed my wife as number one in our relationship. For the first 20 years of our marriage I had completely selfish reasons for not putting her first. For the last 13 years of our marriage she’s still not number one, but now for the right reason.

Before you think I’ve lost my senses, allow me to explain. Or should I say, allow me to let God’s Word show us why this is correct.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple,(Luke 14:26, emphasis mine).

Men, you cannot love your wife best until you love God first and the most.

What God is saying to us is that, in comparison to our love for Him, the love we have for our wife, children, and family will seem almost hateful to the world around us. These verses help us see the contrast of our love for God and our love for the family He gives us to care for and protect.

Of all the earthly relationships in your life, your wife needs to be first, then your children. Putting your wife first gives your children the security and stability that they want and need in the home. Ladies, might I add that this relationship holds true for you of your husband and for the same reasons. This area of our marriage brought us significant challenges, and my wife and I had many “intense fellowship” discussions over it. We both made assumptions out of a lack of communication. I don’t recommend you repeat our mistakes. Keeping these priorities in proper perspective is an ongoing piece of marital relationships.

As a husband, I continue to learn by failing to do it right, and the things I’m sharing come from lessons learned from my failures and from truth’s revealed about God’s design for marriage in the Bible.

A Distorted Perspective of My Wife and Women

Only as God began to purge the porn-poisoned, deceptive thoughts from my mind could I begin to see how distorted my view of my wife, women, and people had become.

My wife had become nothing more than a scratch to satisfy a lustful fleshly itch. Other women had become objects to lust and masturbate over. Yes, that’s pretty blunt language, but that’s my story and the story of the majority of men trapped by pornography and sexual strongholds.

As difficult as it may be to believe, I did love my wife in the deepest part of my addiction. Many men trapped like I was still love their wives. But men in this chosen circumstance often lack a clear, unpolluted vision of how God desires men to love their wives. I realize that’s not true of every situation, but it’s been my experience with the men I’ve mentored.

The Correct Perspective: Christ’s Example

Jesus Christ is the perfect example for husbands in relationship to our brides. He gave His life to save His bride, the Church, from the penalty of sin and to present her clean, spotless, and acceptable to the Father.

God instructs men in Ephesians 5:25-27,

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave 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 thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Husbands, that is God’s plain and simple plan for how we are to love our wives. Christ Jesus is our perfect role model to follow.

Christ’s relationship with His heavenly Father always came first. Submissive and obedient to the very end, Christ took that responsibility to the cross that cost Him His life and saved His bride, the Church. Men, that is our example to pursue and learn from. A rather daunting task, you say? Yes, it is. This too is part of our sanctification and marriage journey, which God ordained in the beginning. And like it or not, men, God gives us the responsibility to lead and demonstrate the example His Son set for us in loving our wives as Christ loves His bride, the Church.

We need to remember that marriage is made up of two sinners. One male and one female who don’t think alike, emote (demonstrate emotions) alike, talk alike, etc. In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter writes, “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman […], so that your prayers may not be hindered.” The word “understanding” in this verse happens in the context of knowing her.

Your wife wants you to know her deeply and intimately (and I’m not talking sexually) in her innermost heart and soul. And as much as she desires that, she also desires to know you in the same way. Open your life up to her. Let her in. Trust her with your struggles. 

Practical Ways to Show Your Wife You Care

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave 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 thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself.” –Ephesians 5:25-33a

Scripture lays out the blueprint for us as husbands and husbands-to-be, and here are some practical ways we can love our wife.

  • Serve sacrificially. This means when you pull in the driveway after a long day, take a deep breath and clear your head, then go in the house and serve your bride. Help her in a way that is meaningful and loving. Ask her how her day has been and listen. (Both ears–remember?)
  • Spend time with your children everyday. When you’re home, make it undistracted, full-attention time. If the kids are young, this means giving your wife a break.
  • Show your wife grace. When your wife is having a less-than-stellar day and her disposition is not ideal because of it, be mindful of how Christ forgave, then show her grace. Love her anyway.
  • Don’t take your bad days out on your wife. Again, I point us to Jesus. He was not a complainer and did not take his bad days out on anyone, especially His bride (the church). Seek God for his peace to you and care for your wife and family first.
  • Pray with and for your wife daily.
  • Lead her and your home spiritually. Open the Bible, read it together, and study it together.
  • Only speak highly of your wife whether in a private or public setting. Never joke about or demean her even in jest.
  • Defend your wife, always. Sometimes this means, from those closest to you, family and friends.
  • Never keep score of rights and wrongs. Christ did not count our sins before he died for them. Men, we are to resemble Christ in marriage.
  • Open doors for her.
  • Tell her you love her. Thinking,“I told her two years ago, so I shouldn’t have to say it again,” won’t cut it. Tell her everyday, even on the days you may not like her very much.

These actions run very counter intuitive as we fight our way out of porn’s grip. In our porn-trapped minds, we live at the center of our own lives. This kind of thinking opposes God’s plan, and the fight against it is best experienced in community and relationships with others. 

  1. Robert,

    I appreciate your thoughts on caring for one another. I agree with the points you make completely. Wise insight my friend. Thank you for sharing.

    Yes, grace is a critical piece in the journey toward purity and God honoring lifestyle. Grace needs to openly flow in both directions.

    Thank you for the encouragement. I give God the credit and praise for the positive impact my articles have on their readers.

    Prayers as you continue the journey, Robert.

  2. Robert Ratcliffe

    Dan –
    Excellent article; very practical and biblically based. The command that just as a man cares for his own body, so he should care for his wife led me to think of specifics a man does to care his body in and parallel actions he must do for his wife:
    1. BODY: Eat nourishing foods regularly. WIFE: Give your wife nourishing words of gratitude, affirmation, and praise on a regular, intentional basis. Truly, one’s soul is fed by the words of those closest to it.
    2. BODY: Exercise to maintain physical health by challenging your body to achieve gradually higher goals over time. WIFE: Help maintain her confidence and peace of mind by challenging yourself to be consistent in your actions, and loving in your words.
    3. BODY: Make time for rest & recreation. WIFE: Plan times for just the two of you to talk, laugh, and simply enjoy each other. Your wife desperately needs regular breaks from cooking and child-rearing to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, a weekend at a bed & breakfast, and even an evening walk at the end of her day.
    One caveat: GRACE. Each husband must always realize that unlike Christ, he is not yet perfect and will fall short of a 100% success rate. He mustn’t beat himself up over failures; simply confess them to Christ, ask for strength, and do the next right thing.

    Thank you for your advice and admonitions. I’ll work to practice them. – RWR

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