Today is “Family Friday” and I thought I’d pass down some advice that I’ve heard/read over the past 18 years of marriage (June 17, 2018 will be 18 years to be exact). Three ways for husbands to show their love and three ways for wives to show their love.
- Listen to your wife. By listen, I don’t mean obey. I mean hear her out. Listen to what she has to say. Peter wrote that husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way. I’m pretty sure he was not saying that in a condescending way, but actually saying, “seek to understand your wife.” How does one understand another person unless they listen to them? If you’re newly married or if you are one who is arrogant and think you know it all, then you don’t realize that your wife is full of wisdom, and it behooves you to listen to her. Understand her perspective on issues. She probably thinks differently than you, and that’s good! Try and sit down on a daily basis and talk. Ask questions about her day, and then ask follow up questions. Talk about what’s on your mind: decisions you’re wrestling with, thoughts about life, etc. Then ask her opinion. This isn’t easy. I’m not a talker myself. I like to just get the gist of stories. I’m learning along with you that love is not in the gist. It’s in the details.
- Take care of your wife. Amazingly, women are strong. They do so much in such little time. I’m not saying men don’t, but women do, especially if they work outside the home and inside the home (which is a full-time, exhausting job). You need to take care of your wife. Don’t tell her she needs to take care of herself; that’s abdicating your responsibility. Paul wrote that husbands are to cherish their wives (and nourish them). To cherish literally means to take care of. If you cherish your body, you are taking care of it. You make sure it eats right. You exercise it. You give it sleep. You give it rest. The list could go on. Paul wrote, “In the same way, husbands love your wives as you their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,” (Ephesians 5:28-29, ESV). Since you take care of your body (feed it, rest it, exercise it, protect it, etc.) then do that to your wife. You get up and feed the baby at 3:00am, if you can (or at least change the diaper). Give her a hand with the dishes. Draw a bath for her and keep the kids from knocking on the door every 2 minutes.
- Lead her in growing as a woman/wife and as a disciple of Christ. That’s the first part of that verse: nourish her. The same word is used when Paul tells the fathers to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” (Ephesians 6:4, ESV). To nourish is to grow, to bring up. Wives are grown physically, but like all of us, there is more growth to be had: spirit-wise, emotion-wise, and maturity-wise. As husband, you can help. One of the ways to nourish your wife, is to give her time with God daily. Make sure she is in the word and in prayer. Do a devotional with her (I’d recommend New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp). Lead the family in family worship/devotions. Pray for her and with her. It takes dedication to nourish your wife; but that is what we are called to do. Dedicate our lives to her.
- Encourage your husband, but don’t nag. Nagging is the opposite of encouraging. Encouraging builds up. It lifts the spirit. Nagging cripples the spirit and tears down. Solomon wrote, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife,” (Proverbs 21:9, ESV). That word quarrelsome can have the connotation of a nagging wife. A husband tends to fume, at least inwardly, when a wife nags. Even if there is no quarrel outwardly, there is one going on in his head. Resentment can easily build up. Instead of nagging, show encouragement. Most husbands want to be good men who nourish and cherish our wives. We want to be the white knights, the superheros, the John Waynes who come in and save the day. So when the project that has taken weeks to even be looked at, let alone accomplished is finally done, don’t say “It’s about time. I’ve been waiting forever.” Instead, encourage: “You’re the best. Thank you so much for doing that for me and the kids. I love it when you show your love by doing little things around the house for me.” And whatever you do, don’t point out the flaws. Most men are not professional handy-men. Often our work will not look professional. We know it. In fact, it is what we will always notice about any project. We don’t need our wives to see them even if they see them (wink. wink.).
- Let him lead. God has called on husbands to be the head of the household. That does not mean that husbands get to do as they wish. It does mean that they are accountable for the direction of the household and, of course, how he leads. Leading is difficult, and many men are just as well abdicating that role to the wife since she manages the household. There is a difference between managing and leading. Leading is influencing, motivating, making difficult decision, setting the course, etc. Managing is the ins and outs of how that happens. We see in Proverbs 31, the wife there is a fantastic manager of her household. In fact, that woman is so great she’s intimidating. The leader, the husband, is to set the course. He makes the difficult decisions and keeps the family on the right path. He calls the family to prayer, study, etc. Even if your husband has already abdicated this role, encourage him to lead, and trust him while he learns as he goes.
- Respect him. This is an overarching idea, which would encompass 1 and 2 in this list. But a man needs respect. Notice in Proverbs 31 that it says, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land,” (v. 23, ESV). This verse calls attention to the husband’s status. Being that this entire section is about the woman, and not the man, it shows that what she does and how she does it, can bring honor to her husband. What she says and how she says it can bring honor or shame to him. Respecting the husband is both direct and indirect. It is how you talk to him and how you talk about him to others. It is how you build him up, encourage him, let him lead in private as well as in public. Just a quick tip, if your husband is in earshot, say something good about him to your friends. Let him hear your words of affirmation to others, but not always when he is standing by you (it may embarrass him if done when he is right by your side).
There you have it. Let me know some other ways husbands and wives can show each other love. I’m sure there are millions. Leave me a comment below. If you like it or agree, let’s just say, I wouldn’t mind you sharing the article.