A guest post by Peacefulwife.
As you all know, I usually only write to wives. And, for the ladies reading this post – if you are discontent or resentful in your marriage right now, I think that this may be a post for you to skip. The ladies may want to check out my blog for wives at www.peacefulwife.com.
I have been getting many inquiries from husbands who would like more practical information with specific examples for their side of the relationship – like I have been doing for the ladies. But I find that it works best when wives focus on their own responsibilities – and if you read about what husbands could or “should” be doing, it may discourage you.
I have had so many husbands lately asking for more concrete information, that I decided to write a post for y’all! Here are some observations and possible suggestions from my perspective as a wife that I pray might be illuminating as you seek to honor God in your marriage and love your wife as Christ loves the church and lead selflessly (Eph 5:22-33). Every wife is unique in some ways! This may not all apply, or I may have left things out that would speak love to your wife in some particular way. It is not an exhaustive list, for sure!
And – as one husband pointed out – it is VERY important to love Christ MORE than you love your wife (or anyone or anything)! It is only by submitting fully to Christ and being empowered by His Spirit that a husband can do all that God asks of him in marriage.
A FEW THINGS THAT MAKE MOST WIVES FEEL UNLOVED AND HURT (and some practical suggestions for alternatives):
- not listening to us – I suggest turning off or pausing the tv/computer/Ipad/phone and face her and look at her. Women talk face to face – it makes us feel “emotionally connected”, not shoulder to shoulder. Ideally, you would sit down with us at a certain time every day for about 15-30 minutes – after supper or after the children are in bed – and smile and hold out your arms or your hand and say, “Ok, Baby, tell me what’s on your heart today!” That makes us feel like you care and want to know us emotionally/spiritually. To us, talking and feeling heard IS intimacy. We have a drive to connect emotionally similar to how many husbands have a drive to want to connect sexually.
- not praying with us We long for that spiritual intimacy and your leadership so deeply, it is a very strong drive for us. If we are doing something that makes you feel disrespected – maybe you can gently, quietly and calmly ask us to change our approach. But it means THE WORLD to most of us when you say, “Let’s pray together.” If you’d rather pray in emails, or if you want to pray and have us pray silently along with you, or if you want to just put your hands on our head or back or shoulders and pray over us silently, or tell each other prayer requests and then pray quietly side by side – whatever way makes you feel comfortable – you could maybe suggest that.
- for many of us – if we leave the room upset, and you don’t follow us to check on us, we feel unloved. – I know you are doing the respectful thing and giving us time to chill out and calm down, but we may feel unloved! That’s why we follow you so disrespectfully when you leave the room, we are trying to be loving and show we care. We leave because we feel very unloved, and have become convinced you must not love us anymore. We don’t always get that your love is pretty stable. We think we can easily lose your love. Although, some women truly do want to be alone.
- not complimenting us – We are so verbal, and it seems like nothing at all to ask you to say, “You look beautiful/sexy/gorgeous” sometimes, once a month or once a week or something. I know that you may just not be very verbal. But – your genuine words of affirmation about our beauty and sexiness are life-giving to us. We cherish your compliments. A few ideas – “I love the way your eyes sparkle.” “Your hair is so soft and sexy.” “Your smile lights up the whole room! I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to be married to you!” “That dress looks great on you!” “I love looking at you.” “I can’t wait to hold you in my arms – you are so beautiful!” “I love it when you wear your hair down/up/like that.” “That color brings out your beautiful eyes.”
- not going with us to church – We are wrong if we are preaching at you or nagging you about this. (Wives who are doing this need to repent to God and their husbands.) We want to share spirituality and worship with you. It means SO MUCH to us when you go with us to church.
- not answering a question – If you need more time to think, I believe if you could say, ”Sweetheart, I need to think about that and process it for awhile. Let’s talk about it tomorrow after we put the children to bed.” And then please follow up with her at that time – wives could be much more understanding of this. Saying nothing us feels VERY unloving!
- watching tv constantly and not looking at us when we long to talk with you (it makes us feel like the tv is your priority, not us.)
- working a lot of overtime -We don’t tend to measure your work as a way you show us love – even though you probably do! We measure time spent with us, talking with us, sharing feelings and emotions and being together more as a measure of your love. When we feel like you are at work 10-16 hours per day and have no time for us – we feel abandoned, unimportant and unloved. I know that you are trying to be the best provider – and that is AWESOME! But if we have money, and don’t have time with you – it doesn’t feel like love to us. We’d rather have TIME with you and not have so much stuff, usually, than have fancy things and no time together with you!
- rolling over and going to sleep when we are crying or upset – A man may feel like he just listened to his wife’s sea of negative emotions for the past hour or two and he can’t take anymore – it’s about to drown him! And she is still not done! He may need to sleep on things and process all the negative emotions overnight and clear his mind. (Men are biologically built to need to do this at times) BUT, if we are still crying or really upset – you rolling over and going to sleep screams, “I DON’T LOVE YOU AT ALL!” to us.
I would like to suggest saying something like, “Honey, I care VERY much about your feelings. I hate seeing you so upset. Come sit with me and let me pray for you, and then we are going to cuddle and get some rest and see how things look in the morning. It’s late – we are both tired. You are important to me. I love you. I’m not going anywhere. You are safe here with me. This issue is nowhere near as important or as big as our marriage covenant. We will work through it. God will give us wisdom. Don’t be afraid. I’m right here. Everything is going to be fine within the next 24 hours!” – then maybe hold her hand and put your arm around her while you pray for her. Wipe her tears. Look her in the eyes and kiss her lips tenderly. Take her hand, lead her to bed, tuck her in, cuddle with her for a few minutes/play with her hair/rub her back/hold your hand over her heart (this can be really calming for some of us) and reassure us one more time, “Everything is ok. I love you. We will work through this. You don’t have to worry. There’s no reason to be afraid. God is here with us. I’m here with you, and I am not going anywhere.”
Some suggestions about helping your wife be more brief with her emotional talking:
– It could be wise to make a “rule” that there is will be no “deep discussions” after 10:00pm. My husband did that, it was a very good idea!
– Ask her to give you the “bullet point version” or have her write out her thoughts in a summary/bullet-point fashion so that you can stay focused on what is most important to her and not have to have an ocean of details to swim through.
– Set a time limit. “I care very much about your feelings. I want to hear your heart. How about sharing with me and I will listen for the next 15 minutes or so – and then let’s spend some time just relaxing and enjoying each other.”
– Hold her, hug her while she talks. It’s really hard for a lot of wives to be upset when their husbands are holding them sweetly.
- wanting sex when we haven’t had a good emotional/spiritual connection in days – If we are not very warmed up to the thought of physical intimacy – try allowing us to talk and listening to us for 15-30 minutes. Pray with us. Talk about how emotionally connected you feel with us during sex. Turn off the electronics and focus on our hearts and souls. Maybe a massage or bath together could help us relax. And – doing some chores for us or helping with the children helps most of us A LOT!!!
- expecting us to work full time AND do ALL the housework and ALL the childcare every second when we are home – We are human, too. This is just TOO MUCH for most women to do and still have energy, respect and desire left for you, in my book. See what can be taken off her plate. Be willing to humbly help with the chores or taking care of the children.
- rejecting us sexually, refusing to touch us or kiss us – This HURTS VERY, VERY, VERY deeply! If we have done something disrespectful, please tell us gently and humbly how we have HURT you or caused you PAIN. We will probably respond to those words better than the word “disrespect.” Many of us do not connect with the words respect or disrespect at all – it just doesn’t make sense and often is not on our radar, sadly. But if you talk about feeling unloved or wounded emotionally – we can understand that and we will tend to want to apologize and make things right! If you are having medical issues – maybe you could at least verbalize your desire for us and still cuddle and kiss with us so that we know you still desire us, and then see the doctor as soon as you can, even though you don’t want to. Being sexually rejected by our spouse can be extremely painful, as I am sure many husbands are well aware.
- not helping with the kids – We love when you are involved as dads. Help us to understand that you are different from us, but that is ok if you don’t do everything just like we do if we tend to be critical of you as a dad. We love to see you play with the kids and enjoy them!
- looking at porn, lusting after other women, flirting with other women – Most of us are not visual like men are – and it is hard for us to identify with visual temptation because that is usually just not in our thinking processes at all. We take this personally as if there is something wrong with us. Sometimes we way overreact because we don’t understand how different men are from us. I wish that wives could be more empathetic about what men go through visually in our culture and be a safe place to talk about struggles and pray with their husbands. Some wives aren’t there yet. They need reassurance from you about your heart and attraction for them. Porn in particular can be quite devastating to wives. I pray that God might give resources and strength to men who are caught in pornography addiction and that He might give them wisdom how to best help their wives heal. Free Christian help for porn addiction. If our husband flirts with other women, it is very disrespectful to us and our marriage, please save all the flirting for us!
Husbands Share What Feels Disrespectful to Them – This is what makes our men feel unloved!!!! IMPORTANT and SURPRISING stuff here, ladies! A husband who feels disrespected feels just as much pain as a wife who feels unloved!
Ways to Show Respect to Our Husbands – This is what makes our men feel admired, loved and like they are our heroes. These are comments from many different husbands about how much feeling respected makes them feel loved.
What Does Respect Look Like to Husbands? – dozens of practical ways we can show respect for our men in different areas of their lives.