What's a Spouse to Do?
I watched “Crazy Rich Asians” last week, a romantic comedy that was reviewed as one of the best films of 2018. [FYI, there’s a little spoiler in this article.]
One of the subplots is about the main character’s sister, who discovers her husband is having an affair. He was a working-class guy who has married into this rich family, but has constantly felt inadequate. Near the end of the film the wife gets a chance to make her triumphant “hero’s speech” as she walks out on him, for which the audience is supposed to cheer. The trouble is, what she says is exactly backward.
“I’ve just realized, it’s not my job to make you feel like a man.”
Actually, it is. That’s exactly her job as a wife (or even as a parent or a friend!), just as it is the husband’s job to make his wife feel loved.
In the beginning, God declared that his creation was “very good”; yet before creation was complete he said it was “not good” for the man he had made to be alone (Genesis 2:18). God created human beings to be incomplete without relationship—relationship with each other, but ultimately relationship with himself. The man and the woman were supposed to be suitable helpers for each other, supplying what each other needed as if they were one flesh.
Instead, the wife chose to satisfy herself rather than her husband and tried to hide the behavior she knew would be demeaning to him (her extravagant shopping). Likewise, the husband chose to satisfy himself rather than his wife and also tried to hide the behavior he knew would be demeaning to his wife (his affair). While the wife’s behavior was merely foolish and the husband’s was sinful, neither were heroes. Both will have the same problems with their next relationships.
The main characters of the movie are in the same situation but the gender roles are reversed—the man is from the rich family and the woman is the working-class girl. And we’re left to wonder at the end of the movie, will they be any different?
And what about ourselves? Husbands and wives know their spouses better than anyone else on the planet. They should look for ways to supply what they know their spouse needs, not withhold it from them.
Indeed, this is just what Christ has done for his bride, the church—he has supplied what we need. We do not have the righteousness that God demands from his people, and so Christ became a man at Christmas to fulfill all righteousness, to make his church holy, “cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and presenting her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27-28).