Entitlement. It can destroy relationships. Think you are entitled to something without making any effort on your end and a relationship can quickly be thrown out of balance. We are not entitled to very much.
We may not be entitled to many things, but we do have the right to fair expectations for those with whom we are in relationship. In the wedding ceremony, we make vows. We promise certain attitudes and actions toward our spouse. It’s only fair to believe our spouse will do what they say–not in perfection, but with a reasonable consistency which builds trust and respect.
When I wrote Four Rights of Marriage, I did so from a male perspective. Each point applied to both husbands and wives, but I viewed it through the lens of what a husband can expect. Many asked, what about the wife? This is the response.
What a Wife Can Expect
As my wife, Jenny has a right to expect:
1. My Vulnerability. I am not allowed to hide some aspect of who I am. I can’t put on a mask and pretend to be something I’m not. She made vows to me and in response deserves to engage with all of me. The temptation as men is to hide parts of ourselves. Culture often trains men to detach from their emotions and not to show what they are feeling. Women are often better attuned to what is going on inside of them while men struggle to identify excitement, sadness, fear, and joy. Wives deserve men who do the work to learn how to know what they are feeling and find constructive ways to express those emotions. (See: This Is the Kind of Husband I Want to Be)
2. My Support. In too many marriages, supporting one another becomes one-sided. Often, the wife plays a vital role in helping the husband with his daily life, but the husband does not reciprocate. Jenny has a right to assume I will play an equal part in our home, her career, and her life. It’s not just her job to be the cheerleader. I too should play that role for her. One of the great gifts of marriage is knowing that we are never alone in whatever we are facing. I should encourage, love, support, and assist in every way possible. Part of my job is to make her life somewhat easier every day because I am on her side.
3. My Strength. While it can be debated exactly why, there are reasons Jenny married me. I have strengths and she a right to assume those strengths will always be used for her benefit. In some areas, our strengths are similar and they complement one another. In other areas, my strengths compensate for her weaknesses. Whatever the case, she can expect I will use what God has given me for her good and not her detriment. When marriage turns sour, spouses begin to use their gifts to the harm of one another. An abused woman is the victim of a man’s strength. What was meant to protect her, harmed her. A wife has a right to assume her husband’s strengths and aptitudes will be for her good.
4. My Devotion. Marriage is unique from every other relationship. At the centerpiece of marriage is love which bonds the two people together. Jenny has a right to assume I will be devoted to her. I will nourish my adoration, respect, admiration, and love for her. While she has a responsibility to live a respectful life and to treat me in a way which encourages my devotion, ultimately my perspective on her has more to do with me than her. Choosing to revere and honor her is my task. Ultimately, devotion is defined by action. My love for her determines how I act, what I say, how I spend time, etc. But devotion also carries with it an implied emotion. There is a deep affection for her which creates appreciation and gratitude.
No husband will live these four concepts with total perfection, but it is a right of every wife to assume their husband will pursue this type of action. (See: 5 Things Not to Do to Your Husband in Public)