Twenty years ago, I wrote my first book about why women can't "have it all," or at least not all at once, despite what the culture tells them.
At the time, the so-called Mommy Wars were raging. Women
For the past ten years, I've been actively involved in family ministry. Along the way, both my wife and I have been blessed to serve alongside couples striving to keep their marriages together and strong. Unfortunately, being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from life's many marital struggles, as we've all experienced some battle wounds along the way. You've likely learned already, professing the name of Jesus makes us even more of an enemy target. It's not a matter of if the struggles will come, it's just a matter of when.That's why it's so important for husbands to be radically diligent and intentional when it comes to loving our wives. As I consider my own marriage, coupled with reading many great experts on the topic—like Dr. Dobson, there are a number of things our wives consistently need from us as husbands to make a great and lasting marriage. You would think that after 25 years of marriage I would have these principles embedded within my brain and heart. I don't know if it's a "me-thing" or a "guy-thing," but I still need to be reminded to refocus on these things on a regular basis. Here's my current top seven:
1. Spending daily time to let my wife share her day with me.
Our wives are hard-wired with a desire to emotionally connect with us at a heart level. This can only happen through a regular line of communication. When our wives share with us the intimate details of their lives, they are meeting a primary need within the oneness relationship God created through marriage. Without a safe means to express what they're thinking and going through, one in which they can openly share their thoughts, dreams, fears, feelings, etc..., our wives' spirits will wilt and walls will be built. When I dedicate daily time to listen to my wife, I better understand her needs and how I can be there for her. As important, she needs to be the one I share my thoughts, dreams, feelings, etc... on a regular basis as well so she can feel connected to me. It definitely goes both ways.
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:242. Reinforcing my commitment to her.
Regardless of what culture or the prevailing "chick flicks" may promote, our wives need our commitment above everything else. While it may not be "sexy" in the world's eyes, this is where true romance begins and thrives. Commitment provides the foundation of a love that is singular in devotion, passion-filled and purpose-driven. Our wives need to know that we will die on the battlefield for them in order to protect them and our marriages. They also need to know that they alone are the object of our sexual desires and affection. Men—this means we only have eyes for them. If you're willing to make this commitment as a husband and as a couple, your marriage will have a great foundation for a lasting and intimate love relationship.
"...rejoice in the wife of your youth," Proverbs 5:183. Providing opportunities for her to rest and fellowship with other women.
My wife is tireless in her efforts to serve within her roles as a mother and a wife. I've found this to be true of many wives and moms. They are often the most self-sacrificing people I've known—this includes my own mother. As I write this, I know I fail too often to provide my wife "a break from it all." Yet, when I do take the time to make this happen, my wife experiences a renewal and the collective family benefits as well.
"And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done." Genesis 2:24. Maintaining a financial plan—short-term and long-term.
Countless books and experts have stressed the connection between a woman's sense of security and the financial stability in her life. I've seen this within my own marriage and the many couples we've counseled. Wives need to know that we're doing all we can financially to take care of them and our children. This means making sure the bills are being paid and that there is a budget in place to ensure a healthy financial future for the family.
"The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty." Proverbs 21:5
5. Setting aside regular date nights or shared activities.
Every married couple needs to spend dedicated time together that allows them to just focus on each other and enjoy whatever they're doing together. This time away together allows for the distractions of the day to disappear and provides the opportunity for authentic communication to take place. For many husbands, this is yet another area of life we need to improve. It's not what we do that is so important. As my wife will tell you, she appreciates when I dedicate time out of my day to go for a walk with her.
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly..." 1 Peter 4:86. Touching her and loving her without any sexual-strings attached.
If your wife is like mine, she loves a good shoulder rub and to snuggle. While these activities can be a precursor to a more intimate physical experience, they shouldn't always be. Our wives need to regularly experience our outpouring of love in a way that just looks to fulfill their needs. Let them decide whether or not it goes any further.
"Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:27. Praying with her and spending time together in God's Word. (Speak God's truth into her life)
Our wives, like us, are foremost created as spiritual beings. As Christian husbands, we are called to love our wives as Christ loves His church. This means our highest priority as husbands needs to be the spiritual welfare of our wives. I often ask myself this question, "If I'm not taking care of the most important thing, why am I so busy with everything else?" As a husband and a father, this is the most important thing: To pour God's love and truth into the hearts and minds of my wife and kids. If I'm getting this right, good things will follow. This means spending time together in God's Word and praying with each other on a regular basis is an absolute must.
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her," Ephesians 5:25
While there are definitely other things my wife needs from me, these are the seven that, at this moment, are on the top of my list for my wife. What about you? What does your wife need most from you right now?