Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2:23-24).
The stated reason that a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife is that she is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. Such closeness does not come with the pronouncement of vows or a simple change of address. Paul says a man never hates his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it as Christ does the church. We are members of Christ's body, bone of his bones, and nourished and cherished by him. What limits did Christ put on caring for his body, the church? What need of his bride goes unmet? Being head requires the love that motivates a husband to do all, not "all he can" but "all" to provide his wife's needs.
Christ's purpose toward his bride was to present the church to himself "not having spot or wrinkle" and becoming "holy and without blemish." A husband's considered goal must be to nourish his bride into becoming that kind of wife. The church requires liberal applications of washing with the word to become a present to Christ. Most brides need nourishing and cherishing to transform them into the wife that is a glorious present to her husband. Young husbands are not even being taught that they ought to be doing this much less, how to do it. And, for the most part, the older men have focused only on being providers of the physical necessities and so, have zero experience in this area to pass on about the true meaning of nourishing and cherishing a woman. [Clue, it takes more than candy on Valentine's Day and roses on your anniversary.]
If a house and a sufficient food supply feeds and warms the outward person, then what feeds a woman's character, her soul? A man belonging to God must think about this in order to be the head God appointed him to be. Providing physical needs is the easiest part, even during hard times. What does your woman need in order to develop mentally, for her character to grow? Maybe she has been protected and needs to learn to live in the real world; maybe her biblical knowledge is less than it ought to be; maybe she is still too much a child to be raising children. Add to this, what are the husband's goals. What if, for example, he hopes to be an elder? Then what must she become to stand beside him?
We quickly conclude that every man must develop a plan for them to grow together, to become one. And, here I must confess that I failed. We did not have a plan. We just stumbled along with a Godward attitude and bounced around with a lot of bruises and somehow got better. OH…. but how much better could we have become had someone shown me the need to develop a concrete plan for our one-ness to grow—bone of my bone, heart of my heart? It could have been so much more, so much sooner. Here are a couple of suggestions.
First, plans have to be flexible. When you marry, you do not know so very much about each other after all. Then, she will change: bride to wife, mother, empty nester, grandmother; children's teacher to women's Bible Class teacher, teacher's wife, deacon's wife, elder's wife. Planning for each stage will be different and require Bible study together and practical discussions.
Next, plans must be realistic about her shortcomings and yours, and how you will work toward fixing these problems. Books and preachers and elders can help, but the husband needs true wisdom to translate that information to meet their personal needs. This is his duty as head.
Every woman needs emotional warming. When she is upset about something, just hold her. Don't formulate a solution, just hold her. Listen. Don't tell her how to fix it; [she knows] just listen. And, then, hold her.
She needs emotional feeding. Compliment her. Tell others how happy you are that she____________. Encourage her. Reward her. There are things she needs that you will never understand. Your job does not require understanding why, just understanding that she needs these things and giving them to her.
Whoso finds a wife finds a good thing. But, not all married women are wives as defined in this proverb. Good wives are born of nourishing and cherishing by good husbands who are determined to fulfill their role as Christ did for the church.
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. (1Pet 2:18).
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, (1Pet 3:1).
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. (1Pet 3:7).