“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting…”
Ephesians 5:25-28 (The Message)
From the time our kids were little, my husband and I never formally discussed it, but it was always a given that when we are together as a family, he and I always sit next to each other and our kids are welcome to fit in on either side as they choose. Sometimes, one would be on my lap and the other two would be on either side of us, each getting attention and feeling loved, but with the understanding that mom and dad’s rightful place are next to each other.
Two years ago we started attending the church we call home, and I loved watching how each one of the pastors’ families (and there are eight sets of pastors as well as at least four sets of elders) had the same “unspoken rule.” I would watch from my seat toward the back, next to Bill, as one of the pastors joined his family in the front row and lovingly but firmly acknowledged his son as he affectionately “hugged” him while redirecting him to sit on the other side of his mom. Then, the pastor took his place next to his wife. I love that. Each of the different pastors has done that regularly – always showing love and affection for their children – but making it clear that mom and dad’s place is next to each other.
I love how our senior pastor talks about his wife during his sermons. He lifts her up every opportunity that presents itself. It’s obvious to see how much he genuinely loves her, possibly more, than when they got married years earlier. It’s not just him either – in the life groups and when they are preaching, the other pastors show the same level of love for their wives as well.
I brought up that subject at dinner one night, curious if our kids knew the unspoken rule and in typical teenage fashion, while rolling their eyes, they were quick to let me know it wasn’t “unspoken” after all, but very well established. I like to joke around with them on a regular basis and ask, “Do you want to know a secret?” The eye roll comes out again when I get the reply, “It’s not a secret, mom. We know, ‘You really love dad.’”
While I was at the awards night for my dad this summer, I had many opportunities to observe husbands interacting with their wives. Pulling out chairs, holding hands while walking to the banquet room, holding open doors, putting their hand on the small of their wives’ backs to guide them, etc. Even the hosts who were presenting the awards were offering arms for the women to walk up and down the stairs so they wouldn’t fall in their beautiful dresses and heels. It was beautiful to see such a huge display of respect throughout the entire event.
I always knew my husband was chivalrous. I love that he will stop me from walking across a parking lot if there is a car and I’m not paying attention. I love that he holds my hand and goes first in a crowd so we don’t get separated, making a path for the whole family to follow. I love that he quietly lets our kids know that my place is next to him, always, – showing them he loves me while making sure they feel valued. And, I love even more that the church we decided to call home has the same unspoken message throughout their families. With such great examples of chivalry still present today, the next generation has many opportunities to learn and keep chivalry alive and growing for many years to come.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015