Loving A Wife

Everybody called him Skeet.

I knew him only in passing. He was a member of the college-town church I attended during my student days. I never did learn his first name, nor did I ever learn why he was called Skeet.

He was a crusty old gentleman who had worked as a roughneck in the Oklahoma oil fields.

Though it has been nearly forty years since I last saw Skeet, I have thought a lot about him this past week.

A few years before I met him, his wife had entered the hospital for a routine surgical procedure. Everything went well until the surgery was completed. She awakened from her anesthesia induced sleep with only limited brain function. She remembered no one, she remembered nothing. She could not speak, she could not walk, she could not feed herself. Specialists were called in, tests were run, treatments were given. But there was no improvement in her condition. After she recovered physically from her surgery, she was placed in a nursing home.

Skeet was naturally devastated. But he did not turn his back on the wife of his youth. Every evening he would go to the nursing home. He would feed his wife, he would tell her about his day, their neighbors, and their church friends, he would read the letters from their children. She never responded, she never showed any indication that she knew what he was talking about or even who he was.

Yet every evening, Skeet would go to the nursing home and spend time with his unknowing wife. He told our minister that he had married this woman “for better or for worse.” He was not going to abandon her because “worse” times had come.

Skeet’s devotion to his wife was a living example of what it means for a husband to love his wife. His love for her was not primarily an emotion or a feeling. His love for her was a choice. Years before, he had stood before a minister and had publicly declared his intention to love her “until death do us part.” In his continued care for an unresponsive wife, he was loving her as he had promised.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” is the instruction given by the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:25). Skeet’s faithfulness to his incapacitated wife and his consistent care for her demonstrate just exactly what Paul had in mind for every Christian husband.