Song of Solomon 8:2 “I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me.” Ah, here is a ready topic for a woman! How are young women to learn how to love their husbands? In the home, under the ready tutelage of their mothers, who have already spent an entire generation of time practicing the art of love…trying to learn what works and what doesn’t, what is wise and what is foolish, studying which paths lead to success and which to failure. As with any art—be it painting, playing the piano, cooking, sewing, or loving—it takes years of devoted study to do things well.
Think of your ability to love your mate as if you were an artist painting a mile long mural that will take many years to complete. As you work, you will inevitably learn more about perspective…more about how to make the shadows fall in just the right places and how to make the highlights jump out at you…how to make the colors look richer and blend into more pleasing shades. As you work, your talent will gradually develop until at some point you will say, “Oh! How wonderful! I’m finally starting to actually be able to express myself on canvas so that others can see what I can “see” in my heart!
How do people learn an art? Well, they can experiment on their own throughout their lives, but by far the quickest way to learn is by studying under a tutor. A tutor can teach someone else all the tricks of the trade that have taken the master a lifetime of study to learn. For example, Michelangelo, thought by many to be the world’s greatest painter and sculptor, studied under Donatello, who was the world’s greatest sculptor before Michelangelo. Similarly, Donatello spent from age eighteen to twenty-two apprenticing under the world’s foremost bronze-worker, studying his techniques for casting sculptures…and on it goes. Generations of artists and craftsmen have apprenticed people to learn their trade secrets and carry on family businesses.
What is the chief “business” of a wife? You may completely disagree with me, but I think a wife’s #1 “job” is loving her husband…learning how to be his “help meet”—his uniquely designed helper. What are the family “trade secrets?” How does one learn more about perspective in a marriage? How does one learn to soften the shadows of sorrow and highlight the happy times? How should all the elements of life be mixed to make the most pleasing “picture” of love and home so that your relationship with your husband will truly model the mysterious love between Christ and the church? How can you get the onlooking world to eventually exclaim, “Oh! I can see you living out what has been the desire of your heart all along!”
How does one learn all these “trade secrets?” Well, I’m still no expert and feel like learning to love is a lifelong study which will never be completed, but I think the lessons are learned most naturally and easily in the “apprenticeship” of home.
But, what if you’re not from a home where love is taught? Then, just like a young, aspiring artist, apprentice yourself to a master (mistress) craftsman! I learned perseverance in my home, but not Christian love, so I tucked under the wings of two extremely godly sisters who became my spiritual mothers. This is also the New Testament pattern, where the older women in the church are charged with the responsibility of being “teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5).
Learn from watching godly examples, both at home and in the church. Learn from reading good resource material. Learn from observing and asking, and then prayerfully practice. Ask God every day for wisdom and grace. Practice communicating with your mate. Practice with creative and prayerful experimentation. Ask questions. Study. Meditate on the examples and instructions given in Scripture. Ask God to make you into a shining example of His love. And above all, study the master of love…the Prince of Peace. Be joined as one with him, not only positionally, but in your soul and spirit, because it’s only as we become a little more like Jesus that we’ll begin to know how to truly love our mates (and all those around us) and minister to their needs.