If you are a man who has spent much time in churches or reading christian books about marriage, you’ve probably heard the following advice-
Take your wife out on dates.
Give her a break from the kids.
Study her love language and speak it.
Make yourself accountable to other men so that you can learn to love your wife like Christ loves the church.
This is not bad advice. But if you are anything like me, sometimes when you hear the same words over and over again, it is easy to nod and smile- date, break from kids, serve her, don’t be a jerk. Got it. I want to talk about the not as obvious ways you can love your wife this year. The secret ways. The things we women talk about on our group trips to the bathroom and on commercial breaks from Downton Abby. The things John Cusack would think of.
So here you go…
10 ways to love your wife in 2014
1. Give your wife a day off. I know, this has been said before, but I mean a REAL day off. Think of it this way- if you took a day off of your job, and your assistant called you every hour to ask a question, and then your boss called you to ask if you’d be home later to do some work, and then when you went in the next day, your co workers made you feel guilty that you missed a day…would you really feel like you’d had time away to relax? I’ve been around girlfriends who answer their phones every few minutes with mediating arguments from the kids, answering shoe finding questions from husbands, and I see their face fall at each ring. Please understand, husbands, when we are away from our kids, we are already feeling some level of guilt. Our society tells moms that they don’t really need a break and if they do, it’s probably because they are selfish or not managing their time well. So commit to giving your wife real time off- don’t call her to ask if she left dinner for you, or if she knows where clean socks are. When she gets home, don’t tell her how terrible the kids were without her or complain about how exhausted you are. Realize that your wife might be struggling with some guilt and make a commitment to not make that little voice in her head sound like you. Give her small and big chunks of time. Give her time alone in your house- sometimes the only thing we want to do is sit in silence in our pajamas and read a book.
2. Pay attention to her Pinterest page. Open an account (you don’t have to use it, but opening an account and following your wife will let you see what she is pinning). Paying attention to what your wife pins is an easy way to get a glimpse into her mind and heart on any given day. Is she pinning a bunch of vacation sites? Maybe she’s feeling a need to escape and relax and you have an opportunity to help meet that need. Is she pinning fitness tips and diets? Sometimes this is healthy, and sometimes this happens when we are having one of those days when you feel less than beautiful. Pay attention. Are you one of those guys who struggle with gift giving? Pinterest needs to be your new best friend! *ps-you might think Pinterest is dumb. That’s okay. I think fantasy football is dumb. And a little bit of real football. But don’t spend time mocking it to her- trust me, women hear plenty of messages that things we like are frivolous and stupid. Be different.
3. Intentionally cultivate and deepen friendships. I hear something consistently with my girlfriends, and that is that we tend to wish our husbands had a best friend. I want to be clear- I am not really talking about being accountable to other men, although that is incredibly important. I’m talking about having best friends- guys that you go on camping trips with (away from the kids), go to movies with, hang out and watch games with, the ones you laugh with. Why does that bless your wife? Well, laughter and fun is healthy so the more you are able to do that, the healthier you are, emotionally and physically. It’s also a blessing because if you are a woman who has close deep friendships with other women, you know how fulfilling that is, and you want that for your husband as well. So go, make a man-date with a friend.
4. Commit to learning to do something she does. This doesn’t have to be huge- not saying you need to learn to make Beef Wellington or learn how to crochet. (but if you DO learn to crochet and you make her a blanket, that is SO John Cusack.). I mean, learn your kid’s shoe sizes and take them shopping the next time they need shoes. Make sure you know who your child’s doctor’s are and take them to an appointment. Handle a parent teacher conference by yourself. Fix your daughter’s hair. Go grocery shopping- and stick to the list. Take the kids to the pool and get sunscreen on everyone. Handle the science project. Chaperone the field trip.
5. Learn to recognize the sad pants. Most girls have them- pants we wear when we are feeling a certain way. It may be hormones or a bad day with work or kids, or no reason at all. If you come home and the sad pants are on, you have a chance to give your wife a little bit of love. Put the kids to bed a little early, and ask her what would make her evening more relaxing. Make an effort to tell her something you love about her, something unique to her. Remind her that she is loved and created by Him.
6. Stop calling her your smoking hot wife. Forgive me, woman who loves that. If you love this, tell your husband to feel free to ignore this one. But seriously, stop it. One, it’s now a cliche that means nothing. Two, there are seasons when being outwardly beautiful is the very last thing on my to do list and I need to know that my husband is okay with that. Three, if you want to compliment beauty, don’t be lazy- choose something that is unique to her. Fourth, this phrase can feel like a real slap in the face when you are feeling the opposite of “smoking hot”. We are not dumb. We know that yogurt covered sad pants and two day old unwashed hair is not smoking hot. We know that it’s an attempt to compliment…but if you want to compliment, hug her and say “the way you serve our family even when it gets difficult is incredibly beautiful to me”. Then watch the kids so she can shower.
7. Have a conversation about sex, and then don’t have it. Ask your wife to talk about you about how she feels about your sexual relationship, and then when you are done, go take the trash out or something. Here’s the thing- talking about sex can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage and choosing to trust the other person. So knowing that there’s an unspoken expectation that sex is going to happen after a conversation about it just adds to the pressure. This is especially true if there is a lot of tension in your marriage already. Some women will avoid talking about sex, not because they don’t want to have that conversation, but because they don’t know how to handle the expectation of having sex afterwards. So tell your wife, “I just want to talk about this with you and hear how you are feeling about this part of our marriage” If trust has been an issue with you in the past, just listening to her and not expecting her to act will help her to trust you. And I think it goes without saying- listen and pay attention.
8. Make it your goal to make her laugh at least once a day, and screen laughter doesn’t count. Sharing funny videos, tweets, or status updates is great. Watching Jimmy Fallon together is awesome. But just decide that if it comes from a screen, it doesn’t count. You might be surprised to realize how much we have relied on social media and television to make up the content of our conversations. Don’t fall for it. YOU be the funniest person in her world.
9. Realize your privilege. If you are a white straight male, congratulations- you have the most power and privilege in our society. People probably don’t ask you if you have a real job. When you are in public, people probably don’t talk to your wife and ignore you until she introduces you. You are probably not leered at or spoken to in a sexually suggestive way when you are out in public. While walking to your car, you probably don’t have a moment of concern for your safety. If you get pulled over for speeding, it’s likely you don’t assume your car might be searched. People probably don’t express surprise when they see you in your job because they were expecting to see a woman. When you get upset, you probably aren’t accused of being hormonal. When you go to the grocery store, you don’t have a difficult time finding hair or skin care products. Look, there are many things that are amazing about being a woman, but there are also things that our world makes difficult. As a husband, you aren’t going to be able to control or change many of those things, but you can try to not contribute to them as well. Take an honest look at the messages you receive for any unhealthy attitudes against women. Pray and ask Him to reveal any ways that you might be contributing that the idea that woman are less than men. Ask your wife- and be humble and open to hearing her answer- if there are ways she feels less than in your marriage.
10. At the beginning of each month, ask your wife to name one thing you could do by the end of the month that would make her feel loved. Put it in your phone, ask for accountability to do it- then blow it up. If she asks you to remember to take the trash out, gather all the trash, sweep the kitchen floor and then take it out. If she wants you to bring her flowers, buy her a rose bush. Be creative and be extravagant. Don’t ask her if she’s noticed. Don’t point it out for credit. Just do it, and watch her face light up.
And a little boombox holding over the head wouldn’t hurt either…
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