We all know that women are greatly concerned about their body image….maybe even obsessed about it! But did you know that men are also hyper-sensitive about one aspect of their body image? Almost every man really wants to be perceived as strong and muscular. This means your husband yearns for you to notice and appreciate his muscles! He’s not going to tell you that, but he really wants to be perceived as strong!
Perhaps this is why the bride in the Bible’s Song of Songs continues to tell her groom over and over again how she values his strength and muscular body. Here are some examples of what she tells him: Song of Songs 2:8-9 “Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.” Song of Songs 5:14-15 “His arms are rods of gold set with topaz. His body is like polished ivory decorated with lapis lazuli. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.”
When’s the last time you verbally admired your husband’s strength? When is the last time you noticed his biceps and made a little comment about how impressive they are? Your husband craves those comments! As you vocalize your appreciation for his physical strength, he will be drawn to you!
There are a lot of dangers for a wife who gives into the temptation to look backward. Allow me to reveal two specific ways in which we tend to look backward, as well as the resulting danger.
1) Since almost the beginning of creation, we’ve had a tendency to want to look back at our past. I think of Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and suffered for that decision by being turned into a pillar of salt! God may have asked us to move forward in serving him, or perhaps we’ve entered a new relationship, but we tend to look back with longing at how things used to be. In modern day, many wives are tempted to “look back” at their old high school boyfriend by checking them out on Facebook. But that is dangerous. It opens the door to make a connection that can slowly develop into something that pulls you away from your husband.
2) As wives, we also tend to “look back” at the past failures or sins of our husbands. We often replay the hurtful incident over and over again, even 10 or 20 years later! That always ends badly. Resentment rises up again and causes continuing damage in the relationship. We need to have a forward gaze. Philippians 3:13-14 says, ” Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Deal with any sinful behavior going on today, but let’s decide to leave the past in the past.
God has given me a vision for Christian wives. I see him raising up an army of strong but gentle wives who do specific things in such a focused and powerful way that their husbands are propelled to become mighty men of God! Don’t we all want that?!
The qualities of these strong Christian wives are all Biblical, and if we press into them, I’m confident we will have a tremendous, positive impact on our men! As we encourage and pray for our men, our men will be much more likely to step up and become mighty men of God. Hallelujah!
The most important thing we can do is to respect, honor and love the Lord. But beyond that, catch this vision of the wife He is calling you to become. He is calling wives to be…
encouraging (1 Thessalonians 5:11…encourage one another and build each other up)
respectful (Ephesians 5:33….the wife must respect her husband)
gentle (1 Peter 3:4 …the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight )
compassionate (Colossians 3:12 …clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience)
courageous (Joshua 1:9… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.)
loving but firm confronters of sin (Luke 17:3 If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him)
prayer warriors (Colossians 4:2… Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful)
You want a quick and easy way to show respect to your husband and improve your marriage? Just notice a few small things your husband seems to appreciate and then…..do them! What a concept! I mean, why wouldn’t we want to please our husbands? Why wouldn’t we want to be kind and thoughtful? Colossians 3:12 tells us “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” So, if we could do just a couple things differently, in a way that our husbands prefer, why wouldn’t we extend that kindness to them?
Let me give you some examples. My husband insists that if we load the dishwasher in a certain way, it cleans the silverware better. (I don’t think it makes any difference!). But, I do it the way he likes…because it pleases him. I know my husband loves it when I leave a little note of encouragement for him on the kitchen counter at least once a week. So I intentionally do that every week. I know my husband really appreciates a clean kitchen counter, so I try to keep the counters tidy. Why wouldn’t I want to please him in such a small way? I’m not saying a wife should have no opinion and should simply be a doormat for her husband. But I think God would be pleased if I stopped only thinking of myself and started thinking a little more about blessing my husband!
How about you? Could you intentionally take note of a few things your husband really appreciates, and then actually do some of those things? It would make him feel respected. It would draw his heart to you. It would likely improve your marriage. Sometimes, it’s the little things…
Have you ever noticed how a man loves his dog? Maybe it’s partly because the dog is clearly devoted to his man and shows it by jumping around with giddy delight the moment his man walks in the door. Maybe it’s because the dog is his loyal companion. Maybe it’s because the dog seems to just accept his man, despite his flaws and isn’t bent on questioning his every move. J
I can’t help but think wives could learn something from a man’s dog. (Yes, I’m saying this a bit tongue in cheek, but maybe a bit seriously too!) What if we, as wives, rushed to the door and greeted our husbands with love and excitement, just as a dog greets its owner when he comes in the door at the end of the work day? What if we, as wives, were as eager to please as a man’s dog? What if we were as much a faithful companion to our husbands as dogs are for their owners? What if we, like a lap dog, made it a practice of snuggling up close, without talking? The Bible actually has something to say about that. In 1 Peter 3:1, God says that “husbands may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” Hmmm. That’s something to ponder. Yep, perhaps there are a few lessons to learn from “a man’s best friend”….
Do you lack confidence in handling disrespectful or sinful behavior by your husband (or boyfriend)? If so, there are some common reasons. Perhaps you avoid conflict because you grew up in a home filled with rage and verbal abuse. Maybe you’re so insecure about your own worth that you can’t stand up for yourself if your husband is treating your poorly. However, you need to recognize this truth. If you remain insecure and scared of confrontation, it’s likely nothing will ever change in your marriage. You’ll keep getting what you’re getting right now.
There is a solution. First, ask God to give you courage to confront any sinful behavior in your marriage. He will be glad to answer that prayer! Throughout the Bible, God continually tells his people to be strong and courageous. In fact in Joshua 1:9, God says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Helpful hint: When I need courage, I ask God’s Holy Spirit to be the one who actually does the confrontation. I ask Him to simply use me as his mouthpiece.
If insecurity is the issue for you, then ask God to reveal your true worth and identity in His eyes. Meditating on what God says in Zephaniah 3:17 is a good place to start. He says, “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” In addition, take a moment to close your eyes and ask God to speak one word into your mind about how He views you. You will likely be amazed at the loving, encouraging word He has for you. You may hear the word “beautiful” or “chosen” or “adorable” or “strong”….
Who does your husband encounter when he walks through the door at the end of the day? Is he happy to be greeted by a warm, gentle, loving wife…or does he encounter a “drip”? Who wants to be considered a “drip”? That’s not very flattering! However, the Bible assigns that label to a wife who is always complaining and criticizing and arguing. Proverbs 27:15 says “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm.” Uh-oh. Could that label belong to you?
I’m not saying that you should sweep any sinful behavior by your husband under the rug. So don’t get the wrong impression that you must never confront immoral or destructive behavior in your marriage. If your husband is engaged in a pattern of actual sin against you, follow the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-17 and seek godly counsel. What I am saying is that we need to be careful that we don’t become a constant critic of our husband! No man wants to come home to that.
Did you know that anonymous surveys of men reveal that most guys are actually very insecure and fear failure most every day? What they need from their wives is encouragement, not complaints and criticism. Make a commitment to find something good about your husband every day this week and then tell him how much you appreciate those good qualities. Use a gentle and loving voice when you talk with him. He will actually enjoy being around you! Let’s be an “anti-drip”!!
So many women (like me) grow up thinking once they find their Prince Charming, they’ll get married, he’ll be perfect, and they’ll live happily ever after. It’s as if we think we’ll be sprinkled with fairy dust or something and our marriages will thrive with no hard work on our part. Not true!
We MUST intentionally work on our marriages. When I start neglecting my husband, or when I fail to remember to press into the Bible instructions for wives….well, my relationship with my husband starts to get a bit more like we’re roommates who simply tolerate each other. It happens so slowly that we often fail to notice the slow crumbling of a once-vibrant marriage. Don’ let this happen to you! Be intentional. Proverbs 21:5 says “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” So, be diligent in working on your marriage. Wives who intentionally nurture their marriages have the most fulfilling and joy-filled marriages! You can quickly and dramatically improve your marriage simply by being intentional each day in terms of nurturing it! In other words, actually pause for a moment and ask God how you can nurture your marriage today.
Here are just a few ideas on how to nurture your marriage. Ask God every morning how you can bless your husband this day, perhaps with a small act of kindness or a word of appreciation. Ask God if there’s any small seed of resentment toward your husband that’s taking root in your heart. If there is, ask God for wisdom in respectfully addressing this issue with your husband. Carve out time for date nights or date lunches with your man every single week. You may have to trade babysitting with another woman, but do whatever it takes to intentionally nurture your marriage. Also, make sure you create opportunities to laugh together and have fun together. Those kind of moments are very bonding.
Great marriages don’t just happen. They take effort….and it’s worth it!
I bet you are checking this out because you think I’m talking about your husband’s laziness…but I’m not. I’m actually talking about our own tendency to become lazy in terms of putting effort and intentionality into our marriages.
Laziness is kind of like lighting a really long fuse. You don’t really notice anything for the longest time….that is, until the explosion! Many a wife has been burned, ending up with a husband who seeks attention from other women or who even ends up divorcing her. We can’t afford to be sluggards in our marriages! The Bible has lots to say about sluggards. Proverbs 13:4 says “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” This can be applied to your marriage! Only when you are diligent in investing in your marriage are you likely to have the kind of marriage you desire.
What can you do to strengthen your marriage? Do you need to get a babysitter and go on more dates with your husband? Do you need to find out his love language and start speaking that language more often? Would your marriage be strengthened if you looked for ways to encourage your husband every day and show him respect?
After years of working alongside my husband to counsel and mentor couples in distress, I’ve noticed a common issue. Even though many of the husbands have greatly disappointed or frustrated their wives, the wives come across as condemning and arrogant. Ouch!
When a wife is perceived as being arrogant and self-righteous, the husband usually avoids her, becomes passive aggressive, and self-medicates his pain through destructive choices such as alcohol, pornography, or even other women.
What if you were to choose to deal with your frustration and disappointment in a different way? What if you were to display humility, kindness and love…even when confronting destructive behavior? One quality that will really endear you to your husband is humility, and it’s Biblical! Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but the interest of others.”
Catch yourself if you start talking down to your husband or start treating him like he is disgusting or inferior to you. In that moment, ask God to give you His perspective on your husband. Ask God to remind you that you’re not perfect either and that you’re both a work in progress…in the master’s hands.