3. A HUSBAND MUST RENDER THE AFFECTION THAT HIS WIFE DESERVES.
Consider I Corinthians 7:3,4 - "Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does." According to the Holy Spirit, there is affection that is due to the wife--affection that she deserves. Certainly this would include "conjugal rights," as the English Standard Version translates, but Biblically it is much broader than that. The wife is owed more affection than just that related to intercourse. You might say she is owed obligatory kindness from her husband. It is easily seen, from the man's perspective, that this passage instructs wives to fulfill their man's sexual appetite. However, the passage also requires the husband to not deprive the wife of the affection that she needs (and those needs certainly extend beyond the bedroom). Men have no right to deny their spouse the tender acts of kindness and affection that women need to find true fulfillment and happiness. Husbands, are you knowledgeable of the affection that your wife needs to enjoy fulfillment in general and in the act of intercourse? If you say, "I don't know", then I say, "Shame on you!" You need to dwell with her according to knowledge and learn what pleases her. You owe her that because you belong to her!
Let me offer some suggestions, men, as to some of the things that most wives need pertaining to affection. Every woman is different, but most of these apply across the board. Women need marital trust. If trust has been violated in your marriage it can be rebuilt, but it takes time. Take special care not to violate your mate's trust with other women, pornography, etc. Stay away from those things! Women also need affirmation. She needs to know you love her for more than just the physical act! And she won't know unless you tell her and show her. And that brings me to a third need: romantic gestures. But Stephen, different women think different things are romantic. How will I know what my wife will like? If you've been paying attention to her and really listening to her, you should know or should at least be able to make an educated guess. Do you know what your wife considers to be romantic? Are you endeavoring to do those things regularly? If not, why not? She needs to be dwelt with according to knowledge and understanding (I Pet. 3:7)! Are you doing that, men? Are you giving her an affectionate relationship or taking her for granted just because you two don't fight? Are you supplying what she needs emotionally? It is a shame that many women never have their needs met in these ways, but they selflessly fulfill their husbands' needs. Husbands, if you don't know how to give your wife the affection that is due to her, you better start working hard to figure it out! It's your God-given duty!
4. A HUSBAND MUST LOVE HIS WIFE.
This point is certainly linked very closely with the previous one. Let's read Ephesians 5:25-29 together:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church."
There cannot be anything (except our relationship with the Lord) that we wouldn't be willing to give up for our wives. We must give our wives the type of love that will help them be even more radiantly beautiful and faithful in service to the Lord. That's the example Jesus has set for us in giving Himself for the church and cherishing her. Men, are you nourishing your wife? Does she know that you cherish her? Do you really love her or do you just say that you do?
We will share some more thoughts on this theme in our next lesson.