Since the beginning of time, men have wondered what women want. Men have been perplexed by our feminine complex. It’s understandably true that with our severe range of emotions, we tend to come across as – shall I say – unpredictable. We have this incredible ability in our nature to be multi-faceted – we’re strong, yet very delicate, steadfast, but easily shaken, confident, but crave affirmation. Even when we answer with an “I’m fine,” our husbands are rightfully mystified if we are indeed actually fine (by the way husbands, most of the time, “fine” doesn’t mean fine). It’s no wonder men are boggled by women.
My husband has been studying me for almost 12 years and I believe is still striving to completely figure me all out. What he may or may not realize is that all along the journey of our relationship, I have been studying him as well. And I’ve learned a thing or two.
Between men and women, men are often considered to be the more simple of the two. Not insultingly simple as in simple-minded, but simple in the fact that they just are not incredibly complicated creatures. This should make our job as wives easier, but instead, I find women (myself included) somehow fail to understand our husband’s core nature and thus, fail to meet his core desire.
Being a wife for almost ten years, I am by no means a seasoned woman, but if there is one very important observation I have made about my husband, it is that he is not like me. He is created differently from me with a unique make-up. He doesn’t need what I need. I deeply desire security, companionship, and love. I want to feel cherished. But my husband…
It’s not to say he doesn’t care about love and friendship (because he very much does), but those are not driving forces behind his wants. Now – I know what you’re thinking! Yes, intimacy is probably towards the top of the list for men, but there is something else all men – my husband and yours included – greatly need, but will often not admit out loud: Respect.
Men – through God’s intricately ordained design – are natural conquerors, providers, and leaders. When we threaten his position to properly exercise these fundamental attributes, we are robbing our husbands to freely live out who God has called them to be. Without sometimes realizing it, instead of recognizing this desire for respect, we challenge it.
Like many young wives, when Jesse and I first married, I did not grasp how important respect was to my husband and because I failed to grasp this, I mistakenly emasculated him in so many ways. Every time I made a decision without discussing it with him first, every time I belligerently “reminded” him to do something because I felt it had not been done according to my time frame, every time I criticized him and every time I questioned his leading – I was blatantly dishonoring him.
“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33
As wives, we might be tempted to gravitate towards the first half of this verse: “each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself.” But Paul clearly identifies our role in the second half of the verse and it is equally important (and should be) as it pertains to us. As the wife, we are not held accountable for how our husbands obey this command. But we are held accountable of our obedience in living out our end of the bargain: we “must respect” our husbands. And this may burst some bubbles, but this commandment is not contingent on the first part of the verse. Whether or not you feel your husband deserves your respect is completely irrelevant.
Once I realized that I was not honoring my husband as fitting unto God, I earnestly prayed for Him to show me how to be the Proverbs 31 wife – the wife of noble character. I prayed He would cultivate His Spirit within me and nurture my desire to be a respectful, humble wife. I wanted to be less like “a constant drip” (Proverbs 19:13) who was “decay in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4) and more like a woman who is “praised at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:31).
- Remember Your Role. Your husband is the head of the house. You are the helpmate. Your beautifully designed role is to help your husband, not lead your husband. You help him with making decisions, not making them for him. You help foster his ministry (whatever his career may be), not simply parade around him with your own successes. Remember, you’re his wife, not his mother – it is not your job to correct him or point your finger at his mistakes. And certainly don’t expect to change your husband – only God can do that!
- Watch What You Say and How You Say It. If you want your husband to trust in your opinion, it’s vital to speak with eloquence and wisdom. Offering any council using words that are either harsh, destructive or critical will eventually discourage him from seeking your opinion on future matters. Proverbs 14:1 says, “A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” He needs to trust not only in your response, but in how your response is carried out. As the old saying goes, “you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” so in other words, speak sweetly. Ask God to guard your tongue and speak through a pure and reverent heart.
- Lavish Him With Appreciation. All throughout history, the homecoming victors from battle were highly esteemed and recognized – for their bravery, intellect, strength and leadership. Their acts of courage were awarded with honor and respect. Men not only thrive to compete and conquer, they want to be affirmed in their ability to lead. Your husband is your spiritual covering who is charged to provide for and protect his family. Honor him and the responsibility he is entrusted with. When he comes home, show him you appreciate the man he is and all his hard work. This is as easy as cooking his favorite meal or simply expressing his worth in your own words. Encourage him and edify him through your affirmation.
- Pray With Your Husband. If you are married to a believing husband, pray with him. We often pray for what matters to us – our heart’s desire. In your prayers, you can demonstrate your love and respect for him. Pray for God’s wisdom as He leads your husband, pray for favor in his career and callings, pray for patience and endurance through difficult circumstances, and pray for his spiritual growth. These are all aspects that concern your husband and weigh heavily upon his shoulders, so in praying for him, you are acknowledging the importance of these as well. If your husband is an unbeliever, do not be dismayed. You can still pray for him and ask that God will open his eyes and reveal Himself to him.
- Speak Well of Your Husband. Sometimes, the most offensive disrespect occurs not in someone’s face, but behind someone’s back. While there are times when it is necessary or appropriate to seek wise council about matters pertaining to your marriage, always try to speak of your husband in a favorable light. It is so easy to get caught up talking with a friend about our disappointments and become habitual complainers. But this is neither edifying or worthy of respect. In our culturally accepted practice of “venting,” many wives end up actually practicing disrespect. When you are honestly seeking wisdom from another wife about your husband, your behavior will not be of a complaining woman armed with her own agenda in need of personal release, but a humble woman who upholds his reputation and has his best interest at heart.
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown” (Proverbs 12: 4). May we crown our husbands with prayer, love, admiration, honor and respect.
The Humble Homemaker