The first duty of husbands is to love their wives…
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (Ephesians 5:25-29)
Some directions for maintaining love are as follows:
1. Choose a good spouse in the first place. A spouse who is truly good and kind; full of virtue and holiness to the Lord.
2. Don’t marry till you are sure that you can love entirely.
3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand all the imperfections which may tempt you to despise your future mate.
4. Remember that justice commands you to love one that has forsaken all the world for you. One who is contented to be the companion of your labours and sufferings, and be a sharer in all things with you, and that MUST be your companion until death.
5. Remember that women are ordinarily affectionate, passionate creatures, and as they love much themselves, so they expect much love from you.
6. Remember that you are under God’s command; and to deny marital love to your wives, is to deny a duty which God has urgently imposed on you. Obedience therefore should command your love.
7. Remember that you are “one flesh”; you have drawn her to forsake father and mother, and to cleave to you.
8. Take more notice of the good, that is in your wives, than of her faults. Let not the observation of their faults make you forget or overlook their virtues.
9. Don’t magnify her imperfections until they drive you crazy. Excuse them as far as is right in the Lord. Consider the frailty of the sex. Consider also your own infirmities, and how much your wives must bear with you.
10. Don’t stir up the evil of your spouse, but cause the best in them to be lived out.
11. Overcome them with love; and then they will be loving to you, and consequently lovely. Love will cause love, as fire kindleth fire. A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife.
12. Live before them the life of a prudent, lowly, loving, meek, selfdenying, patient, harmless, holy heavenly Christian.
From “A Christian Directory” by Richard Baxter (1615-1691)