Every couple of months it is worth drawing up a fresh husband policy. We can always benefit from a little sharpening of our marital calling, goals, and intentions. Lately, I have been thinking about responsibility.
I am responsible for my marriage. I take this from Paul’s discussion on marriage in Ephesians, which begins, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church” (5:25).
Responsible is not…
Responsible is not shared responsibility with my wife. I find the idea of shared responsibility dangerous. It is where my laziness is on full display. Shared responsibility is no responsibility. We share responsibility for dishes? I am busy right now, so she can do that. We share responsibility for an overnight with the grandkids? I am busy with the lawn and casually pruning a few bushes, so she can shepherd the little ones. We share responsibility for each other’s spiritual welfare? That does not sharpen my job description either. Shared responsibility can be my default lack-of-strategy in marriage, so for me at least, it is not responsibility.
Better, I think, is that I am responsible—period. I hope she is too, but, whether she is or not, I am still responsible. As an analogy, I work as a counselor, and I am responsible for what goes on in those meeting times. This means that I come prepared: I have prayed, thought, organized, and considered our future course. I hope those I meet with are also responsible. I hope the process is collaborative. We are, after all, walking together, in the same direction. If we get off track, I am responsible to sort out why and how to get us moving again. The other person, I hope, joins me in that task and is willing to correct when needed. This is closer to what I aim for in marriage.
My target here is my own relational laziness, especially when my marriage seems relatively good. Apparent prosperity abets my laziness. I want nothing that could possibly minimize my responsibilities which are to pray for our marriage, pray for my wife, take spiritual initiatives during our times together, share the important features of my thoughts, and invite her to speak of her pleasures, personal struggles and marital concerns. My responsibility is to love her in an increasingly active and noticeable way, like Jesus Christ loves his bride and in his power.