Men, have you ever asked yourself, “‘Have I been the kind of person my
wife has been able to love?’ If you have, you certainly are in the minority. And if you’ve asked your wife, ‘Have I been the kind of person
you love to love?’ you are in an even greater minority. Most wives are
desperately trying to honor their husbands. But the typical husband
doesn’t know what it means to open his heart and let his wife in. When a
wife sees that her husband has discovered her need to know what is in his heart, and that he is genuinely concerned about becoming the kind of man
that she can truly love, she will be ecstatic.” (Ken Nair from Discovering
the Mind of a Woman)
After Cindy addressed “What Men Want in Marriage” last week I thought it
was only fair that I (Steve) turned the tables and addressed the other
side. At the outset I need to say that I don’t consider myself an expert
on what wives “need” in marriage, though I’ve read a lot in an effort to
learn how to be the kind of husband Cindy needs.
By no means is this going to be an exhaustive list. If anything this will
only scratch the surface. But one thing I know about men is that we can
become easily overwhelmed (flooded) by too much information and we’ll
withdraw if we start to feel that way.
So, my goal is to give husbands a few of the key areas to begin to work on so that our wives will sense we’re willing to open our hearts to them and
genuinely want to meet their deepest needs. So the following is a partial
list (that I’ll expand on) derived from what women wrote to Promise
Keepers a few years ago as compiled in a book by Holly Phillips called,
What Does She Want From Me Anyway?
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband willing to assume spiritual leadership of the
family. This doesn’t mean a husband who quotes or twists scripture to get
his wife to do what he wants.
Sadly, we men have abused the scriptures for centuries and as a result
have left a wake of badly injured wives as a result. Spiritual leadership
is not memorizing the Bible or preaching a sermon. It’s understanding what the scriptures say and using them as a guide for loving (not manipulating) your wife. “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) If we spent the next year focusing just on developing those spiritual qualities it would make a radical change in how we love our wives.
Spiritual leadership also means being willing to pray with our wives and
not just for them. Cindy and I know how awkward it is to start this
practice and how uncomfortable it can make you feel. But we also know that this is the one spiritual leadership practice that can have the most
positive and dramatic affect on your marriage.
Start simple. Maybe just by taking your wife’s hands in yours before you
leave the house in the morning and praying, “Lord, thank you for this
precious gift you’ve given me in _____. Bless her richly today and protect
her while I’m away; in Jesus name, Amen.”
One woman said of her husband’s prayers for her, “When Ron prays for me, I feel as if I’m covered by a velvety blanket of protection. Even though I still face problems and setbacks, his prayers shelter me from the
sharpness of the pain.” [Cindy says she feels the same way when I pray over her.]
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who will listen to his wife.
I admit this doesn’t come naturally for me or most men. But that doesn’t
mean we’re to be given a “pass” on it. It means we have to be willing to
learn how to listen (Webster’s Dictionary says it is “to make a conscious
effort to hear; attend closely”) I’ve found that if I am to truly listen
(make a conscious effort) to hear Cindy I’ll have to put down what I’m
reading, or turn the television off and look her in the eyes.
I like the way Ken Nair puts it. “Listening to her means to stop placing
little or no value on her words. Concentrate on what she’s saying. Learn
to hear what her feelings are saying —not only what her mouth is saying.”
This is another skill that takes time to develop but the payoff is
tremendous in building intimacy with our wives. After 33 years of marriage I’ve found that when I take the time to connect with Cindy at this level it’s like I’ve just given her the most expensive diamond in the world. That’s how much she longs to be heard and understood.
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who’ll protect his wife and make her feel secure. This means more than protecting her from physical harm. It also means protecting her from emotional harm.
I don’t believe there’s anything (short of adultery or physical violence)
that’s more destructive in a marriage than a husband who puts his wife
down in public. What many men consider a “harmful little joke” about their wife’s cooking, her appearance, the way she keeps house, etc. can in
effect be tantamount to verbally raping her. That’s how hurtful our words
can be. Proverbs 12:18 sums it up. “Reckless words pierce like a sword.” And the second part of the verse sums up how we can protect our wives: “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Protecting our wives also means we’re to defend their honor and integrity
to our family members. If we have parents or siblings who try to tear our
wives down it is our God given responsibility to defend them and make it
absolutely clear that you will not tolerate any slander or verbal abuse
against your wife. As for security, that comes when our wives know there
is no one or no thing that comes before her-not our jobs, our friends, our
hobbies, our sports, etc.
We also build security in our wives when we as men take responsibility for our thoughts and actions, especially when it comes to sexual temptation.
I’m not talking about just pornography, I also mean the way we look at
other women or talk about how other women look. If you want to find out
how well you’re doing in this area, just ask your wife to read this part
of the message and then ask if she feels secure.
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who is a full partner in the marriage.
I like expressing this is by using the term, “Oneness” in marriage. This
means in areas like disciplining and caring for the children, making
financial or other major decisions, sharing responsibilities in keeping
the house up. The opposite of oneness is alienation and if we as the
husband don’t become full partners with our wives they will have the
tendency to feel alienated from us, and that is not good.
I realize that I could have addressed dozens of other needs our wives have but I believe I’ve given you enough to begin to make a huge difference in your relationship if you will but ask God to help you to implement the areas where you have identified that you are weak. God promises us husbands in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness. ”A WORD OF CAUTION TO WIVES: Don’t e-mail or hand this message to your husband and tell him he “has to read this” if he’d be offended by that. Believe me, it will have the opposite effect from what you desire.
If he normally doesn’t read the Marriage Message, maybe you could ask him if he’d be willing to give you a gift. When he asks what you mean tell him that the greatest gift he could give you would be to read this article and then answer just one question when he’s done: “Did you learn anything new about me just now?” He may or may not do it. Then leave the printed message in a conspicuous place where he might see and read it later — like in the bathroom.
As always, Cindy and I pray that we will make our marriages a priority and learn what each other needs so that God will get all of the glory. We pray this has been helpful! God Bless you!