Learning is awkward. Even assuming good motives, and a desire to learn, and no rebellion against God’s pattern, there are still difficulties. G.K. Chesterton once said that the “chief object of education is not to learn things but to unlearn things.” Couple this with the fact that what we must unlearn is frequently what we have assumed to be virtuous, and the magnitude of the problem becomes apparent.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands . . .” (Tit. 2:4).
In these texts, we find the common element of learning or study. The husband is commanded to live with his wife according to knowledge (1 Pet. 3:7). In Titus, the older women are required to teach the younger women on how, among other things, to be husband-lovers (Titus 2:4). Putting this in very simple terms, husbands are commanded to be students of their wives, and wives are commanded to be students of their husbands. Being a husband or a wife is a high vocational calling, and you would not walk into any lesser job or vocation with no expectation of needing to be trained.
Something that good teachers have in common is that they know how to anticipate what the student thinks he needs to do, and show him what he must do instead. This is true whether you are learning to play the guitar, drive a car, or do a math problem. What feels intuitively right falls under the heading of what your coach calls a “common mistake.” It is no different in learning how to live with a man. It is no different in learning how to live with a woman.
LEARNING IS AWKWARD:
Last week we considered the difficulties involved in fighting against sin. We are not forgetting that here, but rather assuming it. Even if you succeed in keeping the weeds from growing three feet high, and even if you diligently respond to each appearance of new weeds, there are additional difficulties in growing a garden. If you don’t deal with sin, you will never have the privilege of getting to those additional difficulties.
Apart from sin, why can learning to live with your spouse be awkward? There are several things to keep in mind here. One is that men and women think and respond differently. Another is that different individuals and personalities think and respond differently. Another is that many of us have not been taught well in this regard, and so we do the wrong thing, assuming it to be the right thing. And yet another is that we are impatient with the process—but making a bottle of fine wine is a very different thing than mixing up a jug of fruit juice.