We are all really busy with life. It looks different for each of us depending on what stage of life we are in. Some of us are taking care of little kids, others are taking care of aging parents. Some of us are consumed with school, others work. We also know it’s often a challenge to find the time to focus on your marriage. So, we want to help you with that. We’ll post articles, videos, and audio here to help you strengthen your marriage.
by Wayne Grant, M.D.
“Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:22, The Message)
We had been married for just a week when we realized the startling truth: we were so different. And now after being married for over 50 years, Veronica and I continue to acknowledge that, yes, we are still different. Indeed, we were then, and continue to be, different personalities bringing our unique emotional baggage into our life as a married couple.
Early on in our relationship we were confronted by a different kind of difference-the difference between men and women. These differences have over the years created friction but were also the source of stimulation and joy. Thankfully, we were saved from disaster by a book with the mysterious title, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The book gave us a lot of laughs but also helped us understand the source of, and purpose of, the male/female differences. The book revealed that “men and women differ in all areas of their lives. Not only do men and women communicate differently but they think, feel, perceive, react, respond, love, need, and appreciate differently. They almost seem to be from different planets, speaking different languages and needing different nourishment.” This well-written resource taught us that understanding these underlying differences was the key to solidifying the foundation of our marriage.
In last month’s blog we discussed actions husbands could take to love and affirm their wives as Paul insisted in Ephesians 5. In this month’s article we will explore some simple ways wives can, in Paul’s words, “understand and support their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22-24, The Message) This is not an exhaustive list but it provides helpful hints which have proven effective with couples at all stages of married life.
- It is important for a wife to recognize her husband’s need for admiration and respect. She understands his value and achievements more than anyone else. She reminds him of his capabilities and helps him maintain his self-confidence. She is proud of her husband, not out of duty, but as an expression of sincere admiration for the man with whom she has chosen to share her life. Men need appreciation and respect more than any other thing. When such recognition comes from his wife, he is affirmed and encouraged.
- Men, in general, are not big talkers. When they do talk about themselves or their feelings they need to be listened to. We learned that one of the major differences between men and women is that women process problem solving and decision making by talking about the problem. A man, however, generally processes decision making by quietly thinking about the problem and only talking about it when he feels he has a grasp of the issues. A husband’s tendency not to talk through problems right way doesn’t mean he does not care. It means he is being a man-reflecting rather than talking. A wife will help preserve peace if she gives him time and space-then listens when he is ready to talk.
- Women, in general, are more perceptive than men. They can read their husband’s moods, hopes, dreams, and wishes intuitively. On the other hand, men tend to be dense when it comes to sensing these things in his wife. Therefore, the wife often is frustrated or hurt when her husband doesn’t catch on immediately to how she is feeling. To avoid this relational crisis, she can realize that when her husband fails to read her the way she reads him, it is not due to his lack of care. It simply means that he is clueless. When she wants her husband to know and understand how she feels, she should tell him exactly how she feels. For instance, she could say, “Honey, let’s do something fun for Valentine’s Day, I’m worried that we haven’t spent much time together lately.” Or she might say, “I am frustrated when you leave your dirty clothes on the floor.” Or she might say, “I need a hug. I had an awful day with the children.”
- Praises and compliments in front of others, especially the children and family members fuel his passion. On the other hand, correcting or attacking him in public destroys respect.
- Greet each other after a long day of work with a hug and a smile. The wife sets the stage for a calm evening if she stops what she is doing to give him full attention for a minute or two. If she has something important to discuss with him, wait a while to give time to unwind. Before unloading a list of items to discuss, ask for an appropriate time to talk.
- At any time, a wife can ask for help but not demand it. In general, a husband will willingly respond to a cheerful request from his wife. A genuine, heartfelt plea for help almost always get her husband’s attention. For instance, “Please open this jar of jam for me.” or “Would you please zip up my dress?” Or “I would love it if you would wash the car.” However, a demand like “Are you ever going to fix the sink?” or “Will you ever clean the porch like I asked?” will cause resentment and, likely, resistance.
- Knowing how important sexual intimacy is to her husband, a wife will proactively seek to respond to his needs for sexual fulfillment. Ideally, they will work together to discover what meets each partners’ needs. They will seek a sexual relationship that both find satisfying and enjoyable.
- Knowing that men “love through their eyes,” a wife will seek to maximize her attractiveness through inviting dress, careful grooming, and healthy habits.
Most of all, both husbands and wives should give each other the benefit of the doubt. Always assume your partner has your best interests at heart and wants the best for you. Do not question each others’ motives. Shaunti Feldon States in her book, Highly Happy Marriages, “Highly happy spouses choose to believe their mates cares for them-no matter what.”
Regardless of whether you’ve been married for less than one year or over 50 years, there is one constant challenge facing every couple—to connect. MarriedPeople Monthly is a monthly, mush-free email full of ideas and insights that spark great conversation and help you laugh. You’ll find plenty of go-and-do’s that you can actually go and do. You will be encouraged, we promise.