Men, Honor Your Wives

Family Matters: Married Life

(photo: Shutterstock)

Marriage is in trouble everywhere, with over half of marriages ending in divorce. That’s why the just-completed Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family was so timely.

Our culture, so influenced by Hollywood and materialism, has set about creating a society that no longer values marriage and the family, but which glorifies selfishness and greed and offers false idols to worship instead of God.

Many of us are called to roles in the world that require great courage and effort, but I suggest nothing will do more to strengthen marriage and the family than men having the courage to reject the surrounding culture and embrace their roles as loving husbands, faith-filled fathers and leaders in their homes.

Feeling overwhelmed? This would be an understandable response. However, the alternative is the further disintegration of marriage and the family — and the next casualties could be our own if we neglect our responsibilities. Is there anyone who can help us? Men, we should look no further than our wives.

My wife and I are a team, and we understand our vocation as spouses and parents is to get each other and our children to heaven. We also understand our roles and know what each of us is responsible for in achieving the goals for our family. My wife challenges me and helps me grow as a man, a husband and a father and, most certainly, in my spiritual life as a Catholic. She keeps my pride and ego in check and reminds me when I get off track. Her quiet but passionate faith inspires me. In fact, it was my wife’s interest in the Catholic Church in 2005 that was a critical catalyst for our family joining the Church a year later.

What are practical ideas and actions for how men can best be the leaders we are called to be, honor our wives and have blessed marriages?

Express gratitude to both God and our wives. It can be easy to take our loved ones for granted, especially our wives. Do we thank our wives for all that they do and mean to us? Do our children know how much we love, honor and appreciate our wives, and are we inspiring them to do the same one day in their own families? Do we thank God each day for giving us the gift of our wives?

Get our priorities in order. Christ first; family second; work third. If Christ is not first in our lives, then we are lost. One of the reasons for the breakdown of the family is that we as a society spend too much time competing with God for control. I lived that life for more than 20 years, and it wasn’t until I put my pride aside and surrendered to Christ in 2005 that I began to understand that I couldn’t fully love my wife and children in the way they deserved until I acknowledged Christ as first in my life. 

View marriage as an apostolate and a blessed mission. “Christian couples should be aware that they are called to sanctity themselves and to sanctify others, that they are called to be apostles and that their first apostolate is in the home. They should understand that founding a family, educating their children and exercising a Christian influence in society are supernatural tasks. The effectiveness and the success of their life — their happiness — depends to a great extent on their awareness of their specific mission” (St. Josemaria Escriva, Conversations With St. Josemaria Escriva).

Be the spiritual leader in our homes. This is not a competition. Men too often sit on the sidelines and let their wives take on this role. We are called to be spiritual leaders and not narrowly view our roles as only financial providers.  
Just like evangelizing to others can only be accomplished by a sincere, joy-filled sharing of the Good News and setting a good example, making marriage more attractive will only be accomplished by the world seeing more men and women committed to love, selflessness, humility, sacrifice, courage and devotion to Christ. It seems to me that one of the most important and enduring legacies my wife and I can give to our children and the rest of the world is a successful example of a Christ-centered marriage. It begins with me faithfully living out my vocation as a husband and father.

Randy Hain is an author,

speaker and special correspondent

for the Register who writes from Atlanta.