Ellen White wrote to a Brother M, counseling him on the many ways in which he could attain fulfillment in his relationship with his wife.—Editors.
I saw in regard to your family, Brother M, that you were not happy. Your wife has been disappointed, and you have been disappointed. Your wife expected to find in you a person of more noble, refined organization. She has been very unhappy. . . .
She is not demonstrative. It is not natural for her to make advances and manifest affection. She looks upon the manifestation of affection between husband and wife as weak and childish. She has felt that if she encouraged affection, it would not be answered by fine, elevated love, but by the lower order of passions; that these would be strengthened, but not pure, deep, holy love.
Your wife should make strong efforts to come out of her retired, dignified reserve, and cultivate simplicity in all her actions. And when the higher order of faculties is aroused in you, and strengthened by exercise, you will better understand the wants of women; you will understand that the soul craves love of a higher, purer order than exists in the low order of animal passions. These passions have been strengthened in you by encouragement and exercise.
If now in the fear of God you keep your body under, and seek to meet your wife with pure, elevated love, the wants of her nature will be met. Take her to your heart; esteem her highly. . . .
Brother M, you fail to encourage the confidence of your wife. You are lacking in courteousness and in constant, kindly regard for her. You sometimes manifest love, but it is a selfish love. . . . You have sought for your own amusement, leaving her at home lonely and often sad. You pursued this course before moving to this place and have continued to do so since in a less degree for want of opportunity or excuse.
Your wife would scorn to let you know that she marked the deficiencies in you. She has a fear of you. Had you possessed genuine love, which such a nature as hers requires, you would have found an answering chord in her heart. You are too cold and stiff.
You have at times manifested affection, but it has not awakened love in return because you have not been courteous and attentive, and manifested a kind regard for your wife by consulting her happiness. You have too many times felt at liberty to saunter off in pursuit of your own pleasure without consulting her pleasure or happiness at all.
True, pure love is precious. It is heavenly in its influence. It is deep and abiding. It is not spasmodic in its manifestations. It is not a selfish passion. It bears fruit. It will lead to a constant effort to make your wife happy. If you have this love, it will come natural to make this effort. It will not appear to be forced. If you go out for a walk or to attend a meeting, it will be as natural as your breath to choose your wife to accompany you and to seek to make her happy in your society.
You regard her spiritual attainments as inferior to your own, but I saw that God was better pleased with her spirit than with that possessed by yourself. You are not worthy of your wife. She is too good for you. She is a frail, sensitive plant; she needs to be cared for tenderly. She earnestly desires to do the will of God. But she has a proud spirit, and is timid, shrinking from reproach. It is as death to her to be the subject of observation or remark.
Let your wife be loved, honored, and cherished, in fulfillment of the marriage vow, and she will come out of that reticent, diffident position which is natural to her.
Only let a woman realize that she is appreciated by her husband and is precious to him, not merely because she is useful and convenient in his house, but because she is a part of himself, and she will respond to his affection and reflect the love bestowed upon her. Let your wife be the object of your special and hearty attention.
When you feel as God would have you, you will feel lost without the society of your wife. You think her faith not worth having, yet it will bring answers sooner than the faith which you possess.
Brother M, you fail to understand the heart of a woman. You do not reason from cause to effect. You know that your wife is not so cheerful and happy as you wish to see her, but you do not investigate the cause. You do not analyze your deportment to see if the difficulty does not exist in yourself.
Love your wife. She is hungering for deep, true, elevating love. Let her have tangible proof that her care and interest for you, shown in her attention to your comfort, is appreciated and returned. Seek her opinion and approval in whatever you engage in. Respect her judgment. Do not feel that you know all that is worth knowing.
A house with love in it, where love is expressed in words and looks and deeds, is a place where angels love to manifest their presence, and hallow the scene by rays of light from glory. There the humble household duties have a charm in them. None of life’s duties will be unpleasant to your wife under such circumstances. She will perform them with cheerfulness of spirit and will be like a sunbeam to all around her, and she will be making melody in her heart to the Lord.
At present she feels that she has not your heart’s affections. You have given her occasion to feel thus. You perform the necessary duties devolving upon you as head of the family, but there is a lack. There is a serious lack of love’s precious influence which leads to kindly attentions. Love should be seen in the looks and manners, and heard in the tones of the voice.
This excerpt was taken from Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 2, pp. 414-417. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.