By: Jenni Walker
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18
Note to our readers: We are focusing on the marriage relationship over the course of this month and practical ways to put verses such as these into practice in the context of marriage. However, if you are single, widowed, dating, or even need biblical insights for other relationships such as with family, friends, or co-workers, we invite you to still stick with us this month. There are inspiring and challenging things to consider for us all!
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“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…”
As my husband shared these words with me, my heart swelled with thankfulness for this man that God has given me. We have had our share of challenges life has thrown our way over the years. 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. Nearly nine 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 should permeate both our words (Check out last week’s devotion HERE!) and also 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 several fun, research-based ideas for how to actively “do good” toward your husband with creativity and joy:
1) Use his love languages
Genuine friendliness, care, kindness, and laughter help to sweeten daily interactions. How these are expressed specifically can make a tremendous impact on the heart of your husband if expressed using his specific love language(s). 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 your husband in different ways a top priority each and every day!
Love languages are seemingly simple and yet extremely powerful because they help us focus in on how to specifically and actively love our husbands. They are practical, applicable, and they help us show reverence for our husbands. To learn more about your love languages, take this online quiz together with your husband, or access a printable PDF version here. (These are based on Gary Smalley’s book “The 5 Love Languages.”) Then start putting what you learned into action!
2) 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. 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 an enjoyable, peaceful place where he is invited into the hustle and bustle.
A few more thoughts on the matter: 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 try to make an effort to be there with him for a while, 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!) Also, 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.
3) Prioritize physical 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 physical 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.) Show your hubby that sexual intimacy is a priority to you, too, and make it happen!
Next week, we will look at one more critical and life-changing element of being a wife who intentionally chooses to “do good” for her husband: the attitude of the heart. This week, focus on making an ongoing habit of loving your husband creatively and intentionally with your actions. Demonstrate honor using his love languages, take time to enjoy what he enjoys, and prioritize physical intimacy. Joyful, creative, selfless demonstrations of love for our husbands help strengthen our marriages and show reverence for Christ our Lord (Ephesians 5:21)!
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Time to Reflect
1) Which of these three areas of active love (using love languages, enjoying what he enjoys, and prioritizing physical intimacy) might God be asking you to focus on with greater intentionality in your marriage?
2) Is there an area of your marriage that contains dishonor, irritation, or frustration toward your husband? Humbly consider how you can actively demonstrate respect to your husband based on the following passage that Paul wrote to Christians of the church of Ephesus. Ask the Lord to show you where these things may have led to actions that do not “do good” for your husband or your marriage. Ask Him to forgive you, and seek the Holy Spirit’s help to repent to your husband and how to express to him what you need in those situations, too. This can also open up the lines of communication for quicker, more loving resolutions in the future!
“For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ’For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:30–33)