The “good enough” husband is extinct. Men often believe they possess the different qualities, characteristics and attitudes to be a good enough husband. He may measure himself by his own father, other husbands, his wife’s admonitions, societal standards and/or what he believes is necessary to be a good enough husband. But he keeps coming up short.
His wife may prod him to spend more time with her or share more of his thoughts and feelings with her, be more affectionate to be a good enough husband. Books abound about how to be a good husband and the Internet brims with articles and experts encouraging husbanding. While occasional sightings continue today, the “good enough” husband died off over 2000 years ago.
Who Gets to Decide?
Who determines what is “good enough?” Wouldn’t his wife determine whether he is good enough? She is the recipient of his efforts, but not being a man she doesn’t know what it takes to be a husband. On the other hand, wouldn’t he determine what good enough is, after all he is responsible for being the good enough husband. Neither wives nor husbands can determine what constitutes a “good enough” husband.
The concept of “good enough” is about shame and measuring up to some predetermined standard. From this framework a man is either good enough or he is not good enough; he is adequate or inadequate; good or bad; right or wrong; strong or weak; he either measures up or doesn’t measure up. Couples caught in the paradigm of “good enough” measure each other by standards of performance, which build in obligation, resentment, entitlement and ultimately emptiness all leading to failed relationships. Fortunately, there is another way.
Surrendering to the truth of the human condition, husbands are not capable of being good enough regardless of whether the standard is his wife’s, his or an idealized standard. Acknowledging this reality in every circumstance and encounter in marriage is the first step to being the husband God intended a man to be. Jesus did not allow his disciples, religious leaders or anyone else to establish his standard for being adequate or good enough.
The standard of being a good enough husband was met in the person of Jesus Christ and as a result the “good enough” husband became extinct. Husbands are directed to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This admonition is not about being good enough or measuring up to some obligatory standard.
Jesus loved the church by allowing the Father to live in Him, through Him as if the Father was Him. Similarly, husbands are to love their wives allowing the indwelling Christ to live in him, through him as if it’s him to her. This frame of reference has nothing to do with the “good enough” concept.
First, Jesus’ motivation for loving the church came from always listening to His Father. Knowing his Father increased his motivation for surrendering and listening to Him. As Jesus experienced life on this earth, He learned what he instinctively knew; His Father was the personification of love. God is love. This “knowing” came from life experiences in which difficulties were the proving ground for incrementally surrendering to His Father because He always knew this was in His best interest.
Secondly, surrendering to His Father’s will through death and burial resulted in resurrection. Surrendering to the Father in ways that lead to death, burial and resurrection today is also the process for loving wives, as Christ loved the church.
Finally, listening to the Father was essential for being able to know the Father and surrender. Jesus loved the church by listening, knowing and surrendering to the Father. Today, the key component for husbands loving their wives is listening, knowing and surrendering to the Father and as a result, husbands will be resurrected from extinction.