"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Eph. 5:31). Paul goes on to say that this is a great mystery. The marriage union is a mystery, but the union of Christ and the church an even greater mystery. It is experiencing the greater mystery that gives the foundation and power to be able to live in the lesser mystery.
To think that we could love our wives as Christ loved the church without knowing the love of God filling our hearts would be a great deception. We must come back to the foundation. We do not need a few basic principles, or "ten easy (or hard) steps to a successful marriage." We need the basis of the life of God, and no other life will suffice. The reason so many are failing today is that they are trying to work out relationships with their wives without a relationship with God. It is bound to fail, as the whole world is living proof. God is the one who designed marriage, and He designed it based on what He could do in men's and women's hearts.
What is the mystery of Christ and the church? It is that we may be one with God through the provision that Christ has made at Calvary. Christ did not come to give us principles to live by. He did not give us a book to follow. He came that we may have life--His life. He came that we may be joined to God--to be one spirit with Him. He laid down His life that we may live through Him. This is a great mystery, and it is the realization of that mystery which gives us the power to be able to live in the second mystery. Most of the time--if not every time--the problems we encounter have their roots here. If we want real solutions and not just "Band-Aids" to cover things up, we need to go back to God and make our relationship right with Him. He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit into any heart that would receive Him, and when He comes, He brings the Father and Son to dwell within. Out of this union will come the fruit of the Spirit, which is what we need in our relationships with our wives.
Are you knowing this union, this oneness with God? If not, you can know it. When we do know the union and communion with God by the Spirit that enables us to abide in Christ, we will know the wisdom and power to be the husbands that our wives need and desire.
How are we one with our wives? Paul tells us that when a man and his wife are joined together in marriage, God looks upon the two now as one. They are to live as though they were one body. A body has one life and one head. The members of a body do not move in separate directions, but cooperate with each other under the direction of the head to accomplish one purpose. Other than our union with God, this is the closest relationship known to mankind. It is not a mystical union, but a real union worked out in faith under the direction of God.
A wife does not cease to be an individual. She still has a will of her own. But in her relationship with God, she submits her will to the will of her husband who is the head of their relationship. If her husband is moving in faith before the Lord, he does not consider his wife separate from himself. He sees her as his own body, and treats her accordingly. "No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church" (Eph. 5:29).
Husbands, an essential key to being able to work out this marriage relationship to the glory of God is to see our wives as one with us. So often we view them separate from ourselves. We point our fingers at their failures. We put demands on them that they are not able to bear. We expect them to make up for every lack that is in us. We are much harder on them than we are on ourselves. Why? Because we do not see them as one with us. We see them almost as our servants or slaves, to serve us and raise our children. Instead of enfolding them in our arms and drawing them near, we stand separate with our arms folded, watching to make sure they perform every task we have given them.
But Christ is our example, and He does not do that with us. He did not remain in Heaven and shout commands at us. He did not consider Himself, but rather laid aside His own glory and humbled Himself--becoming completely identified with mankind. He became a helpless babe in a manger. He died between two thieves. He promised that if we would open the door of our hearts to Him, He would send the Comforter to abide with us forever. In so doing, He said that the Holy Spirit would take the things of Jesus and make them ours. So close would be the relationship that we could consider that the Father and the Son had also come to abide within us, to do in us what we could not do.
Jesus does not stand separate from us, but becomes in us everything that we need. This union, which has no equal on earth, not even in marriage, is the key to our salvation. And seeing the union God has designed for marriage is the key in our relationships with our wives. It takes vision from God to be able to see, but He gives spiritual eye salve to those who are willing to humble themselves and ask. Once we see, then we must begin to move in what He has shown us. God only shows us enough to take a step. To see more, we must walk in what we do see.