When I think of what husbands need most from their wives, I come up with two main things: respect and contentment. The first is something the wife gives her husband, and the second is something she is as a person, the spirit she radiates toward him and the rest of the world. As I talk with men, and as I listen to my own heart, I am convinced that these two things address the deepest needs of most men.
- Husbands need respect because, as I said before, we are constantly struggling with feelings of self-doubt and failure. The curse God placed on the ground (Genesis 3:17-19) means that men must work hard for even a mediocre return. We've been designed for achievement and enterprise, but are frustrated by a world that does not cooperate with our plans. It is for this reason that God tells wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24). That word "submit" is hated and feared by many women today, but it shouldn't be. It doesn't mean letting your husband walk all over you. It doesn't mean having no opinions. As Paul makes clear in Ephesians 5:33, submit means "respect." Wives are to encourage, affirm, and (yes) admire their husbands. Every man is dying to know that he is competent and desirable, at least in the eyes of his wife. I can personally testify to the power of a wife's loving embrace and words of esteem at the end of a hard, draining day.
- And husbands need their wives to have a tranquil, contented spirit. The apostle Peter tells women to develop "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:4). Yes, I know that the cover of Maxim magazine does not typically glorify gentle and quiet spirits. But men find irresistibly attractive a woman who is at peace within herself and who is confident and happy. A woman who loves life and accepts who she is and where God has placed her, is sexy. A man's world is filled with competition, injustice, stress, and responsibility. His wife has the incredible power to calm his heart simply by her own inner tranquility.
- "I can never do enough for my wife. I try to spend time with her and she says I need to work more around the house. I try to work harder and she says I ignore her. In her eyes, I'm always doing something wrong."
- "My wife doesn't care about how she looks anymore. I come home, she's a mess, the house is a mess. What happened to the beautiful woman I married?"
- "She's just like the people I work with: nag, nag, nag."
- "My wife hasn't had a kind word for me in weeks."
Ladies, I cannot stress enough the power you have to make or break your husband. He is not as bulletproof as he appears.
So what can you do to both respect your husband and develop a gentler, quieter spirit? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Get seriously repentant about your controlling behavior. Ever since Genesis 3:16, wives' sinful propensity has been to "desire" - that is, desire to control - their husbands. Either by appearing weak and needy, or by being nagging and demanding. Get that plank out of your own eye before you try to remove the speck of sawdust from your husband's. (By the way, guys, Matthew 7:3 applies to us too.)
2) Every day, think of at least one thing you can affirm in your husband's character or activity, and tell him about it. Every now and then, write him a note or email thanking him for something he has done for you, for the family, for the world. Your husband will love knowing that one person thinks he's hot stuff. He's not hearing that from TV shows, from his boss and co-workers, or from his own tapes.
3) Look nice for him. Dress like a woman! Watch What Not to Wear on the Learning Channel and follow their instructions! (I know, I know. You think I'm a chauvinist. So be it. I'll take my hits.)
4) Live within your means. Stick to the family budget. Don't be someone who is constantly talking about what you don't have. Make the things that you do have last as long as possible. (Except clothes...see point #3!)
5) Read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. You may not like Dr. Laura, but she's usually right...especially when it comes to what husbands need from their wives.
6) If you struggle with insecurity and feelings of inferiority...if you fear sex or have unhealthy associations with the subject...if you don't understand men or are not even sure you like men -- talk with someone who can help you get to the bottom of those things. There has got to be a qualified pastor, counselor, or therapist in your area who can walk you to the roots of such feelings. Be assured, these insecurities are keeping you from loving your husband with the abandon he needs and deserves. Don't put it off...you are damaging both your husband and yourself by running from your pain.
7) Last but not least, go to God. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Your weakness as a wife is an invitation from God to draw near to Him and lean on Him. You will not succeed as a wife without a vital relationship with God. To enter that relationship, you must admit your sins and failings and trust - really trust - that Jesus died on the cross to save you and give you a new life.
Now that I've written about what husbands and wives need most from their spouse, tell me what you think. Do you agree? Disagree? Have any other angles that might help our readers?