The following list is not complete by any stretch. There are many other ways to love your wife, and some more important that what is listed. Instead, these are general areas of marriage where a lot of guys fall short, including yours truly.
As I analyze my own heart and thoughts about my wife and how I relate to her, and as I speak regularly with other men about their marriages, I have come to see these five areas as places where much work is needed, at least for most of us.
Feel free to comment and add your own ways to the list (gals are welcomed to comment too).
The two essential biblical texts this list is based on are:
Eph 5:33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
1 Pet 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
So here we go:
1. Treat her like a princess, not a maid
Your wife is not a means to an end, she is an end in herself. This means you should never use your wife to get something else – like a clean house or bedtime pleasures. Rather, she is the something else you should want. Want your wife for her own sake, not for something else she can provide for you. She is a princess to be adored and cherished, not your maid or prostitute.
Wimps and thugs will never do this.
Your wife will know by your actions whether you see her as a princess or a maid. If you treat her like a maid all day, and then say, “I love you, princess,” at bedtime, she will likely not believe you. The ladies are too smart for that. So don’t get angry when she gives you the cold shoulder. She knows how you truly feel.
God created you to nourish, love, and protect the princess he has given you. If you don’t feel that way about your wife, you are wrong and need to change the way you feel. Sounds difficult, but God can help if you ask him. It could be that you are guilty of the sins of pride and self-centeredness, and you should repent and ask God to help you change.
It takes a tough guy with heart to take this challenge of learning to see and treat your wife like a princess. Wimps and thugs will never do this.
2. Take her to church
If your wife has to drag you out of the bed on Sunday morning to get you to church, there is a major malfunction of spiritual leadership in your home. If she doesn’t view you as a spiritual leader, she will likely have a hard time seeing you as a leader in other areas.
She will know you love her when you are the one encouraging her and the kids to attend church, especially if it is Bible-believing, Gospel-centered church where she can build friendships with other believers. She will know you care because she will see your desire to learn the Word, apply the Gospel, and become a better man. She will respect you for setting an example for her and your children.
3. Listen to her and don’t attempt to fix her
Men can be so clever and smart when it comes to their vocations, but some can be so dull and blind when it comes to what their wives really need. She needs you to listen to her vent her emotions. In much of what she says, especially if she is describing some trial or difficulty she is enduring, she is not asking you to solve her problems or fix her. Rather, she needs your shoulder to cry on, your ear to listen, your heart to care and hurt with her’s.
Many men don’t really listen. Instead, they bark at their wives because the house is not clean, the kids are not behaving, the car has not been washed, the food is burnt, or other such relatively meaningless things. If that is you, forgive my bluntness, then you are dull and blind and do not understand what your wife needs (plus, see #1).
If you are prone to barking, stop it. Just stop it. Why not zip your demanding and demeaning lips, sit with your wife without distraction, and let her unload her overwhelming emotions on you?
If you are prone to barking, stop it. Just stop it.
Don’t interrupt her with ways to fix and solve. Just listen to her. God has called you to live with your wife “in an understanding way.” So, understand this principle well: When you try to fix your wife, you are actually breaking her.
Now, I’m not being naive. I know your wife is a sinner and has problems that need to be solved. But if you set yourself in the role of the fixer, you will be sorry. Stop trying to correct her deficiencies. Instead, listen to her without interruption and love her through her pain. Work at that for a few months without fail, and I’ll bet some of those nagging deficiencies you see in your wife will have a way of correcting themselves. And even if they don’t, you are training yourself to love her not matter what.
4. Be a present, caring dad to her kids
Yes, they are your kids too. But your wife desperately wants her kids to have a really good father who loves them. When you carry out that role consistently, she will notice and experience fulfillment in the marriage. She will feel so blessed when she looks out the window and sees you playing basketball with her son. She will feel so blessed when you carry her little girl around the house on your back, laughing and cutting up. Nothing is more attractive to a Christian woman than the father of her children acting like the father of her children.
5. Read a book on marriage
Men are quick to read things they feel are important and practical: a plumbing manual, a guide on automobile repairs, an article about their favorite football team, and so on. But so many men don’t see marriage as something important enough to read about.
I have learned through personal experience that being married successfully (in God’s eyes) is a skill that needs to be developed. There are principles and methods of relating to your wife that can be learned, practiced, and applied.
Far too many men have an arrogant, unteachable attitude when it comes to being married, refusing to listen to the advice and guidance of others. This is a terrible, terrible mistake. I’ve seen many man starring blankly into space because they are clueless as to why their marriages are falling apart. Very simply, if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t expect good results.
So set yourself to read at least one good book on marriage every year. I have put together a page of resources on marriage, that includes a number of high quality articles and book suggestions. If you really want to love your wife, show her by demonstrating your willingness to learn how to love her better. Read a book on marriage.
Okay, tomorrow it is the wive’s turn. Look for 5 Ways to Love Your Husband.
PS – A little advice to the ladies: You might have read this list with tears in your eyes because your husband just doesn’t get it. Even still, I would hesitate to email him this list or send him the link. Doing so will likely only provoke him. Instead, tune back in tomorrow for some suggestions on getting his attention, not by throwing his deficiencies in his face, but through respect and admiration. Start by praying sincerely for his heart.
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