For years my wife and I have played with the question, if we could sit down and spend an afternoon and talk to ourselves as the young couple that got married at age twenty-one, “What would we say to them?” What advice would we give ourselves?
After thirty-two years of marriage and counseling couples for twenty years, one thing I am confident of….a man’s life is richer when he has a wife. I know that may sound odd, but the evidence and research indicate that the women in our lives bring us joy, happiness, health and simply put a good life. Women – our lives would be much less without you.
I recently posted about some of the tips I would have given to the young husband. Here is a list for wives.
- Pray for him every day – Pray for him often but also try to pray together. Your heart will grow to understand him in a deeper way. Be patient with him. Many men struggle with praying out loud. Encourage his spiritual leadership don’t criticize it. You will accomplish more by praying for him than criticizing him.
- Tell him you believe that he can do it – This is the most important thing you can do for your husband. This is how he experiences respect. You show him through your words and behaviors that you think he can do it.
- Initiate sex with him – Many men feel like they always initiate sex. He wants to be wanted also. Women need words to open up and men need shared experiences to open up.
- Plan a fun activity with him – Have fun, many times he just wants to laugh and enjoy. He feels closest to you when he is sharing an activity with you. You feel close when you talk. He feels close when you are doing something together.
- One night a week don’t talk about problems -It’s easy to be consumed by problems and issues. Make one night a week a “problem-free night” and look for all the positive and good things that are going on in your home and the world around you. Have everyone share one good thing as you eat your dinner together.
- Let the small irritations go – Don’t let the small things change the big things. So often we spend so much energy sweating the small things we miss the importance stuff.
- Make a commitment to stay together – Mark 10:9 Never use the “D” word. Commitment is a mindset you have to protect. Culture and stress can erode your commitment. Protect it with friends, family, scripture and God. Guard your heart and mind against thinking about divorce.
- Forgive freely – Col. 3:13.- The journey of marriage requires you to forgive freely and frequently. Never stop – don’t let unforgiveness come between you. Let it go, God will take care of it.
- Always greet him with excitement – This is what I said in the tips for husbands. “The power of greeting is amazing. She should know this is the place you want to be. The excitement and joy you show when you greet can be a powerful way of showing love.” Ladies do the same thing.
- Praise him in public – criticize only in private – It is demoralizing to your spouse or children to be criticized or made a sarcastic joke in front of others. Secrets in a home or marriage can become toxic. I am not saying ignore your problems – just find the appropriate place to deal with the negative. Men do better if you talk about issues straight forward, don’t drag it out. Give praise often and its good to occasionally brag on him in front of others.
- Have friends that support you and your marriage – You need a core group of friends. You need them close by your side for the journey. They need to be people that can speak truth to you, leading you to the values of your marriage and God.
- Initiate sex with him – Think about how you feel when your husband is willing to talk about your day and shows interest with empathy. You feel loved, wanted, understood, and enjoyed….you feel loved. This is how he feels when you are willing to give yourself to him and initiate sex with him.
- Never part without kissing – Couples seem to stop kissing when they get married. This is more of a mans issue than women’s, but take the time and kiss when it is not part of foreplay.
- Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected – To men respect and love feel the same. They have a hard time understanding love if they don’t feel respected. This is not part of his ego. He wants to feel like he matters and is important just like you want to feel loved and safe.
- Pay attention to your appearance – Every woman is beautiful – hear that, you are beautiful. No…No stop, YES you are beautiful, He sees that beauty, and is drawn to it. The real beauty is inside….let it out, with laughter, play and vulnerability. I not saying get all dolled up or make yourself into something that you are not. Be who you naturally are, just don’t where sweats all the time.
- Have times each day when you put media and children aside – The work of marriage is compromise and connection. It is hard to do either with the needs and distractions of kids and media. You need this for your mental and spiritual health even more than the marriage does.
- Your Priorities… God, husband, kids – Your priorities should be in this order. We usually make them kids, God, husband. I realize your kids need you and you have to provide nurture and care but….the best thing you can do is love God and your spouse well. When you take time for your spiritual well being and your marriage, your children naturally benefit from the fulfilled you.
- At his core he is more insecure and romantic than you realize – He is unsure what to do, so he does nothing. He can’t read your mind so encourage him and help him create experiences that you will both enjoy. Most couples are confused. They believe that their spouse has all the power and they give up. You help him along by telling him what you like. You can make a difference. Your strength and beauty are vital to his life and the marriage. Your happiness is his happiness and his happiness should be your happiness.
- Use God’s word as your first “go to” for your life and marriage – Read Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3 and Proverbs 31. Those will be a good start.
- Create an attitude of growth in your life and marriage – The best people and leaders have a natural desire to learn and grow. Become a positive curious learner – it is attractive to others.
- Take care and nurture yourself – Take care of your physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs. Many women put themselves last on the list. Spend appropriate time growing and caring for yourself. Get involved with a small group of women
- Always look for the positive – It is easy to only focus on the problems or the negative. Live the the truth of Philippians 4:8, focus on the good.
- Help schedule a date night – Shared experiences together are vital. Never stop dating. You need time where you can laugh, play, encourage, affirm, and non-sexually touch. These types of experiences together create intimacy and energy for the relationship to grow.
- Ask Him what would he add to this list – Ask him what he would add, it could create interesting discussion and growth. Marriage should evolve and grow. Look for ways to learn together. Read at least one book and attend at least one marriage conference every year.
- Oh yea – initiate sex with him…..but, what he really needs most is respect – Here is the definition of respect – a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. This is what he wants to feel. The statement that I hear often is, “he doesn’t do anything worthy of respect.” Treat him like you want him to be and pray for him. With God’s love and guidance he will become the husband you need and want.
What do you think? Would you add more or take some away?