“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Col. 3:19
To love is a lifelong lesson and no one can master the art of love in this life or the life to come. If God is love, and he is infinite, therefore, the essence of love is also infinite. How can we, being finite, possibly love others to the full extent as the Lord loves us?
To be married to someone is to learn what love is. Getting married is merely the beginning of learning how to love, not the end of it. A marriage certificate is just a piece of paper, granting us the privilege to enter into the school of love, and we will never graduate from the institution as long as we live. In fact, to love is an eternal enterprise that we will be engaged in eternally.
What we have learned about love is minuscule compared to what we need to know about the all-important subject. No sooner do we consider that we have acquired the knowledge of love than new information pops up and we have to learn all over again. Love does not end, either here on earth or beyond.
Love abides forever, so the lessons of love last forever also. What makes this life so thrilling is we have ample opportunities to acquire the knowledge of love through daily exercise; and what gives us such excitement when anticipating what is going to happen beyond the Jordan is that we get to continue what we have left behind, which is learning how to love.
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”
This is indeed rather challenging, for there is no end to this and, starting from the day we tie the knot to the day we die, difficult situations will continue to surface demanding our full attention, and a mere slip may do great damage to the relationship. One cannot be too cautious in guarding the marriage relationship from getting injured by our carelessness.
Of course, to love isn’t merely theoretic, and the essence of it lies in the practice. “Love your wives” is an ironclad principle that we must abide by, and the expression and exercise of this love is “do not be harsh with them.” The main difficulty of the love lesson, according to Confucius, is to always have a “good facial expression,” no matter how challenging the situation is or how unreasonable one is being treated.
I can always tell instantly what the relationship of a couple is like by the way they look at each other. Our facial expression is the first encounter we make with others, and it becomes irredeemable when a harsh image is created. Being loving to the beloved is to present one’s best expression to her at all times; and being harsh involves one’s expression and speech, which is something we must avoid at all cost.
This lesson appears to be so rudimentary and fundamental, yet very few of us can claim that we have mastered it, let alone other more important issues.