Fear not, dear husband — you don’t need to be superhuman to be her hero.
Alright, guys, listen up. I’m talking to you, husbands, husband wanna-bes, young men, and older men. I’m also talking to the ladies: those of you who are still young and/or unmarried, and those of you in marriages that are less than fulfilling. Today, I’m putting on my ‘marriage expert’ hat to share a few things I’ve learned along the way about how to have a healthy, happy marriage. What makes me a ‘marriage expert’? Years of on-the-job training!
But seriously, I’ve been very happily married for almost thirty years, and though we’ve had our tough times and trials, we’ve consistently been able to maintain a solid relationship. On one hand, we started out solid, stable, and happy, but we have always tried to improve and deepen what we already had. So all these years later, we have found what works well and are happier, closer, and more in love than we have ever been.
Because of this, people often ask us for marriage advice and counsel. We’re always happy to give it, and it was actually my husband’s idea to post some of our suggestions here on my blog. And lest you think I’m putting it all on the guys to make the marriage work, don’t worry. I’ll be writing on the flip-side of this topic next week.
To begin with, I’m gonna leave out the ‘don’ts.’
This isn’t about performance or getting it perfect. It’s about doing the small-but-significant things, sowing the necessary seeds to grow in your love relationship in order for the marriage to bloom and flourish.
Secondly, there are things that go without saying (fidelity, loyalty, etc) and I’m not gonna go there either. Use your heads, people.
But I’m here to point out some maybe not-so-obvious things that women need and (dare I say it?) deserve. And I’m saying ‘every woman’ in the title, because I believe these are basic heart/soul/spirit needs every woman has that her husband can actually fulfill. And when your spouse is filling your heart/soul/spirit with good stuff, that makes for a pretty happy life and marriage overall.
So without further ado, here’s the list (drumroll, please):
1. Tell her that you love her and that she’s beautiful every day.
And by every day, I mean EVERY. DAY. No exceptions. For the past twenty-eight years (plus the four years we dated,) my husband has told me these things at least five times each day. Sometimes more often than that. Occasionally he asks me, “Are you getting tired of me telling you this?” I always answer no, even though at this point, I don’t always feel like I need to hear it. But I’m telling you, every day, we each go out into the cold, cruel world and face life, head on. Often, it drains the very life out of you. And even if you know it in your head and your ears don’t need to hear that you’re loved and beautiful today, believe me, your spirit does.
2. Be the president of her fan club.
No one should be more excited about who she is and what she does than you. You should be her biggest cheerleader and encourager. Take interest in what interests her, and join her in at least one thing she is passionate about. To love her is to love what she loves.To value what she values.To take pleasure in what pleases her. Nobody does that with everything and all the time, but the point is, if she ever feels the whole world is against her on any given day, she knows that at least youthink she is completely wonderful.
3. Routinely give her a break from decision-making.
Women are the ultimate multi-taskers and decision-makers. Kids, career, household chores, meals, ministry…you name it. And your wife is holding it all in a delicate balancing act, trying not to let anything drop. Most women are the ones who also are expected to remember (and buy the gifts for) birthdays, Christmas, weddings, bar mitzvahs—you get the picture. Relieve some stress now and then by taking over and making a decision for her. “I’ve got dinner covered tonight.” “Let me take care of ___________ for you this time.” “Why don’t I plan something for the kids to do this weekend?” Stuff like that goes a long way towards making her feel supported, appreciated, and nurtured.
4. Remind her that you chose her, and would choose her all over again.
There is something profoundly powerful about being chosen. I believe we are hardwired to desire it. To hear that, of all the choices that were out there, “I picked you.” My husband reminds me of this at every wedding we attend. He scans the crowd (wherever we are) and pronounces, “I’ve taken note of every woman here, and you know what? You’re the one I want.” This cultivates security within the marriage. Belonging. Value. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
5. Guide, help, and encourage her to step into her God-given potential.
This one is so important, you guys. Every one of us loses sight of who we are, what we possess, and what we could step into. Don’t allow her to settle! This isn’t nagging or pressuring, this is calling her higher, and we all need this. When a husband does this (along with the other four things,) he is truly looking out for his wife’s highest and best. And this is true of her inner life as well as what she does with her life.
These five things aren’t the only things a woman needs from her husband, of course, but when all five are happening, it isn’t just the woman that benefits. The marriage bond is strengthened. The commitment between partners is deepened. The heart-to-heart connection between husband and wife is knitted together tighter.
The marriage thrives.
Happy wife, happy life, people say. But this is more than making a woman happy by giving her what she wants. (Sometimes, what we want isn’t good for us at all!) This is about a husband meeting his wife’s deepest needs. Being ‘the provider’ of so much more than money and things. And in doing so, he is calling himself to higher and better. Inasmuch as we are able to truly lift one another up, we are lifted up ourselves.
Marriage is hard work. But that hard work pays off and can result in the most beautiful, symbiotic relationship you will ever experience. Worth every effort, and I can testify to that personally.