Loving Your Man

By: Jenni Walker

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?  She is more precious than rubies.  Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Proverbs 31:10-12

*          *          *          *          *

Ah, Valentine’s Day.  It is a day both loved and loathed by many.  Depending on the individual, it can involve romance and passion while for others they experience resentment or pain.  Amidst the candy hearts, the deep-red roses, and the long restaurant waits before dinner, at its core this day reminds all of us of our longing to be loved.

The namesake of this particular day was Valentine, a priest who was likely alive during the Roman era in the third century A.D.  The Roman Emperor Claudius II of that time took desperate measures to maintain his Roman power: He outlawed all new marriages.  After this decree, no one was allowed get married because he believed that unmarried young men would fight more valiantly and without distraction as Roman soldiers.

St. Valentine, at great personal risk, continued to hold marriage ceremonies in secret for young couples because of his deep conviction that marriage is God’s will.  He ardently believed that laws against marriage were in direct violation of God’s divine purposes.  Although there are varied versions of the exact timeline, St. Valentine was eventually imprisoned and later put to death.

While this story may not produce in us the euphoric feelings of love sought after on each February 14th, it gives us a serious reminder of the value of marriage.  What would you do to prove your love to your husband?  Would you risk personal pain, sacrifice, and even your life?

All of us who have vowed to love our husbands “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; until death do us part” have actually pledged to do just that!  And while it is unlikely that any of us had to marry in secret for reasons like those under the Emperor Claudius II, our vows still ought to be taken just as seriously.

Your husband, despite all of his potential quirks, differences, and yes, even flaws, is the man you chose to marry.  You stood before God and man and pledged your love to him.  We would like to present you with three important elements of “loving your man” that will bring purpose, joy, and even romance to your marriage, not just this Valentine’s Day but every day!

*     *     *

1) With your WORDS

“That’s what every man wants.”

I was sharing a few of my thoughts about this article with Bryan as we sat at the kitchen table last night.  As he munched on a creamy peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, he was listening thoughtfully.  But when I got to the part about honor and respect, he interrupted me emphatically with these words: “That’s what every man wants.”

Honor and respect.  Do you prioritize these in your communication with your husband?  Do your words convey that you respect and esteem him?  Ladies, we live in a culture that finds humor in demeaning others.  Sarcasm, put-downs, and eye-rolling are all considered acceptable forms of humor.  But over time, they can quickly create a lot of wear-and-tear in relationships, marriage included!

Consider how you can show your husband honor and respect through the following ways:

  • Edification – Ephesians 4:29 commands us, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” As Christians, we are all recipients of God’s amazing grace through the work of Jesus on the cross. This should permeate every aspect of our lives, including how we speak to our husbands!  “Edification” in this verse literally means to “build up” others.  Do you use your words with the intent to build him up?  How can your words impart grace in your home?

 

  • Appreciation – “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well” (Voltaire). One of the things that Bryan and I try to do regularly is to specifically articulate what we appreciate about the other. For example, when he puts out the trash and recycling by the curb, I endeavor to tell him thank you.  When he likes a certain shirt or outfit that I am wearing, he will interrupt me to tell me that I look “really pretty.”  When he comes home and is weary from a long work day, I tell him how much I appreciate his leadership and his commitment to work so hard, both for us and as unto the Lord.  When I help him with a project or we are just relaxing on the weekend with a movie, he tells me how much he likes to spend time with me.  We work really hard to make specific appreciation a genuine priority.  This not only makes both of us feel good individually but fosters a greater unity in our marital team!

 

  • Skip the sarcasm – It is so easy when we are stressed or feel a little bit irritated internally to deal with it in a sarcastic way. For many of us, this is our default mode when our expectations are not met by our husbands. Guess what?  Unmet expectations are going to happen sometimes in a marriage!  John Eldredge writes in his book Wild at Heart, “Every man carries a wound.  I have never met a man without one.  No matter how good your life may have seemed to you, you live in a broken world full of broken people.”  As wives, it is incredibly important to remember that our sometimes-stoic husbands still require a special sensitivity from their wives.  You have the deep honor of being “one” with your husband.  Sarcasm is something that chinks away at this oneness, sometimes without us even realizing it.  If sarcastic words or tones have crept into your regular communication with each other (even if it is about something else, not necessarily each other), identify and correct it now! If there is a misunderstanding between the two of you, skip the sarcasm and choose grace.  When direct communication needs to happen, do it in a way that is free of sarcasm and, rather, that demonstrates the transformative love of Christ to one another!
    • Wholehearted women, let’s skip the sarcasm and choose to impart grace with our words. John Eldredge challenges us with this observation: “Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally…It will take both of them to sustain life.  And they will both need to fight together.”  Let your words show your husband that you are his ally, that you are in this with him, and use your words give life to your husband and to your marriage!

*     *     *

2) With your ACTIONS

“If you’re following Christ, you have to be selfless in all of your relationships.  And your marriage, other than your relationship with Christ, is your most important relationship…

Last night as Bryan shared these words with me, my heart swelled with thankfulness for this man that God has given me.  Things have not been perfect, and we have had our share of challenges we have had to face together.  But in all of it, we have gone back to God’s design for marriage and held fast to that.  When Bryan proposed to me, he read from Ephesians 5:22-33, which expounds on the roles both husbands and wives play within a marriage.  Seven years later, I have seen the impact of our mutual commitment to live out these verses with obedient hearts, wisdom sought from the Lord, and the ongoing choice to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

Our reverence for Christ ought to permeate not only our words but our actions within marriage.  Ephesians 5:2 reminds us to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us.”  Let’s not walk in love toward others throughout the day and then give our husbands the leftovers when we are both home.  After our relationship with Christ, marriage truly is the most important relationship that we are called to!  The following are ideas for how to put your love for love for your man into action with creativity and joy:

  • Use his love languages – All men like to come home to a place where they feel welcome. A clean counter or freshly washed sheets, a welcome-home kiss accompanied by a smiling gaze, a brief shoulder rub, laughing at his jokes, affirming his playtime with the kids…all of these represent various love languages, and they all require intentionality. Make communicating your love to him in different ways a top priority each and every day!  (To learn more about your love languages, take this quiz to learn more about your personal profile.  Invite your hubby to join you!  Click here http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ (online), or you can find a printable PDF version here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/moody-profiles/uploads/profile/attachment/5/5LLPersonalProfile_COUPLES__1_.pdf)

  • Enjoy what he enjoys – Does your husband enjoy being at home? Or are you constantly barraging him with a list of to-do’s and complaints? To-do lists and practical communication are a reality of life, but a husband needs to also be able to relax and enjoy his home environment and to also determine some of his own priorities.  He does not need to constantly be told what to do.  I have found that Bryan really loves when I watch football with him, especially if I put on my University of Oklahoma t-shirt.  Or when we go to a cabin on a weekend, he loves to spend several hours at a time just fishing from the shoreline.  I don’t always stay out there the whole time with him, but I always make an effort to be there with him for awhile, both doing some fishing and watching him.  Just being together and valuing what he values is really important to him. (Compliments on his deft abilities with a rod and reel don’t hurt anything either!)
    • When life demands immediate help, say it with grace!  “Hey, baby, when you get settled in from your work day, do you mind watching the kids for a few minutes while I finish getting dinner prepped for tonight?” is a more inviting request than, “Go watch the kids.  I have a million things to do for tonight.”  Make the home a place where he is invited into the hustle and bustle.
    • And remember that you BOTH need to enjoy time together!  When life gets busy, this can still be done with a bit of creativity: Watching the kids play while holding hands on the couch, pulling out a deck of cards and playing a few hands, or just eating a bowl of ice cream together in bed are great ways to just “enjoy life” together.
  • Prioritize intimacy – This is a BIG one, ladies! Long kisses, hugging in the kitchen, and yes, taking off those flannel PJ’s in bed are all intimate actions with your hubby that foster intimacy and that make your man feel loved! I asked Bryan to give us wives some insights about this, to which he responded: “Have fun with it!  Dance, chase (literally chase each other – clothes optional!), smooch, be openly affectionate – in front of kids and others.   [Affection in marriage] makes me feel loved and connected.  For wives, maybe being selfless is getting nude and hopping in bed.  I think not in the same way as women, but men do want to be desired – for their strength and their part in doing the ‘hibbidy-dibbidy.’”
    • Wholehearted women, let’s face it: Sexual intimacy in marriage makes our husbands feel loved!  While many women express that they enjoy emotional intimacy more (which is also very important!), we must remember that sex was created for marriage by God (Genesis 2:24-25, Hebrews 13:4).  It is a place to come together as one, with literally nothing hidden, and to express in the most intimate of acts, “I am all yours.”
    • As we wrap up this section, consider a few of these tips to help you and your hubby prioritize intimacy:  a) Set an expectation. (“Hey, babe, meet me in the bedroom ten minutes after the kids are in bed…”) b) Make a plan. (“Let’s do it at least twice this weekend – how about Friday night and Saturday afternoon after you get home from working out?”) c) Be creative! (i.e. As soon as kids are in bed and asleep, skip the dishes and find each other!  Lock your door and head to the walk-in closet if needed, lol.)  Show your hubby that sexual intimacy is a priority to you, too, and make it happen!
    • (Check out “Two Ways to Fire Up Passion in the Bedroom” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott for a few quick insights!  https://www.lesandleslie.com/devotions/two-ways-to-fire-up-passion-in-the-bedroom/)

*     *     *

3) With your ATTITUDE

“Your attitude can make any action an act of worship.”  (More wisdom from Bryan Walker!)  🙂

In our marriages, our attitude is critically important.  It affects the words we say, the actions we take, and how we respond to the words and actions of others.  Attitude is both how we respond and approach something.  As wholehearted women, we are called first and foremost to have an attitude of worshipful surrender to Christ in all things: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, NLT).

And as wholehearted wives who are surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ, we are also called to both approach and respond to our husbands in ways that demonstrate honor both to them and to our Lord.  In loving worship to the Lord and out of marital love for our hubbies, let’s choose to adopt the following attitudes toward our husbands:

  • I value you. (Doing his laundry, making a family meal, having friends over for a football game he’s especially excited about, his style of communication, his particular looks, his talents…this is the man you married! Let him know that you value him!)

 

  • I appreciate you. (His work, service, time with kids, mowing the lawn, volunteering at church, his arm around your shoulder, him holding the car door for you, his hair, his smile…Not just our words but our body language and attitudes can communicate to our hubbies that we appreciate them immensely!)

 

*     *     *

All the Days of Her Life

Let’s each remember that our husband, despite all of his potential quirks, differences, and yes, even flaws, is the man that we married before God and man.  We are called as wives to rely in all things on the grace of God as we love our husbands according to His holy and wise design for marriage.  We pray that these three important elements of “loving your man” will bring fresh purpose, joy, and even romance to each of your marriages, not just this Valentine’s Day but every day!  As we conclude our time together today, may the words of Proverbs 31:10-12 compel you to wholeheartedly love your husband in your words, your actions, and your attitude all the days of your life!

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?  She is more precious than rubies.  Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Proverbs 31:10-12

*           *           *           *           *

 

Closing insights and reflections:

  • If you have found yourself in an uncertain or even abusive situation in your marriage, please seek counsel. Remember that you are never alone, and there is always hope!

  • If you and your hubby are bickering often, and there seems to be frequent unresolved conflict and lack of intimacy, do not ignore it! Keep “loving your man” with the love of Christ and with God’s wisdom and help.  Also, do not be afraid to seek godly counsel.  Talk to your husband, endeavor to get on the same page about it, and then talk together to a pastor, a trusted couple or church small group leaders, or even a professional therapist.  There is no shame in getting a tune-up!

  • Lastly, even those of us who believe we have the best husbands in the world still have to be intentional in “loving our man.” Remember that “Every wise woman builds up her household…” (Proverbs 14:1)  Pray for your husband!  Be with him!  And love him every day.