“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12
The following are things I have learned in the past 12 years that have helped me focus on loving my husband. Some of these I do well and do regularly. Some of them I stink at and wish I did more often. Likewise, some of these might work for you and some might not. So, as always, feel free to pick and choose the suggestions that will work for you and ignore the rest if you’d like. I won’t be offended. =)
1. Remember that different is not necessarily wrong. Just because your husband doesn’t load the dishwasher the same way as you does not mean he is wrong. He just doesn’t do things the same way. And that’s OKAY. This subtle difference in perception is the source of SO MUCH grief in relationships. Decide today you won’t let your husband’s different approach to household chores and non-essentials in parenting create a wedge between the two of you. Differences keep life from getting boring.
2. Figure out what fills his love tank. For the first few months of our marriage when my husband came home from work after having a bad day I would smother him with hugs and kisses in an attempt to make him feel better. But I quickly learned it did not help. If anything, it actually created more stress for him because he really didn’t want to be touched in that moment so he would shut down and I would sulk off wounded and not sure what I had done wrong. After we had been married for about six months someone introduced me to Gary Chapman’s five love languages and I figured out that my primary love language is touch, but my husband’s is not. =) By discerning that he receives love primarily through acts of service I learned that when he was having a bad day nothing would make him feel better than coming home to a closet full of ironed shirts (Yes, this was definitely before we had children!). I needed to save my hugs for another time. =) Go check out “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman from the library and figure out how both of you give and receive love. It will revolutionize your marriage.
3. One of the wisest and godliest women I have ever known taught me the concept of “Blast Off and Re-entry” (which can also be found in “The Politically Incorrect Wife” by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby). She explained that one of the best ways to show your husband he is important to you is to first, make sure you always say goodbye with a kiss or hug when you part from each other (even if one of you leaves at 5am). And to, second, always make a big deal of your reunion when you see each other again. When you have kids and you stay home you can make re-entry even more fun by getting the children involved. When I hear my husband’s car pull-up I yell to my kids, “Daddy’s home!” and they come running ready to greet him with big grins on their faces. The goal is to make sure that your husband knows you will miss him when you are apart and then to be sure he knows how excited you are to see him again. Sometimes this just involves changing out of my sweatpants and putting on some under-eye concealer five minutes before Daddy’s supposed to be home; while other times it just means having dinner started so that when he walks in the door I am available to talk if I know he will need it. Which leads me to number four:
4. Communicate with your husband throughout the day if at all possible so he knows you are thinking about him and so you can get a gauge on what his needs might be when he comes home. I don’t mean thinking about him like, “Honey, did you remember to call the insurance company about that bill?” I mean calling him to wish him good luck before an important meeting or telling him you love him on a voice mail message when you know he will have a stressful day. Flirt with him by text message or email and remind him of an inside joke between the two of you that you know will make him smile. The point is to remind him that you see him as your friend and your lover and make sure he knows you miss him when he’s not around so he feels like more than just a utility.
5. Make an effort to know and understand what your husband does during the day so you can have intelligent conversations with him if he so desires. For most men, their career defines so much of who they are. If you take the time to understand and affirm that part of his identity it will speak volumes to your husband. My husband likes to talk to me about what happens at his job. Maybe your husband doesn’t want to talk to you about his work because he just wants to forget about it when he comes home, but take the time to figure out what he prefers so you at least give him the chance. Which brings me to number 6:
6. Figure out what your husband wants when he comes to you with problems. Is he a “typical male” and looking for feedback and suggestions when he shares with you or is he more like a “typical female” and just wants you to listen while he airs his grievances? I say this because my husband has three sisters and I have learned that he often just wants me to listen. (Having three brothers, just listening can be kind of difficult for me.) =)
7. Don’t keep score. We are all human and it is impossible to not disappoint people on a regular basis. Your husband isn’t any different. Stop keeping track of those wounds and mistakes and lay them down at the feet of the Cross. It will set you free to love unconditionally and with grace.
8. Pray for your husband. Pray for every aspect of his life: his job, his fathering, his relationship with God, with co-workers and friends. Pray for his protection from temptation. Pray for his relationship with you. This is especially important on those days when you are frustrated and want to play the blame game or pull out the scorecard. I find that when I pray for someone God changes and softens my heart and fills me up with grace I would not have otherwise. There are a lot of great resources out there to help with this. “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian is a good place to start. Feel free to recommend more in the comments if you have favorites.
9. Pray with your husband if he is willing. Nothing will bring you closer to each other and to God than hearing your hearts poured out in prayer.
10. Go to bed at the same time if you can. After a long day with kids, work and other life stresses, there is nothing better than snuggling into bed with your hubby and allowing time to talk or just silently be together without the distractions of the world. That, of course, brings me to the next tip:
11. Ask God to make your sexual desire to only be for your husband. When I was a newlywed I read in a Beth Moore study that she prays this prayer daily for herself and that her husband’s desire would only be for her. I decided to adopt this petition and encourage you to do the same. That said:
12. Make yourself available to be intimate with your husband. Trust me; I have an eight month old who still has not slept through the night. I know this can be difficult, ladies. I once heard a wiser, older woman tell one of my friends at a bridal shower that when her husband initiated making love she always tried to say yes unless she was physically ill…because more times than not once she made up her mind to be in the moment she would actually enjoy it. I know this is a touchy subject and I could spend a lot of blog posts discussing this very thing, but I’m just going to say this: your husband does NOT care if you haven’t ever lost that baby weight. He doesn’t care if you haven’t shaved your legs or taken a shower today. Though you might spend your whole day feeling as if everyone wants something from you literally and figuratively, your husband sees you as more than just an object to be used. He loves you and wants to show you. And he wants you just the way you are. That’s a WONDERFUL thing! Take advantage of that on the days you are feeling good and change things up by being the initiator. He will love it! Make yourself available and commit to trying to enjoy it. You might be surprised! =)
13. Flirt with your husband in public. When you are out and about, whether it be at your kids’ athletic events or shopping at Walmart together, let him know you have eyes only for him. Wink at him, hold his hand while you walk, kiss his cheek, smile coyly from across the room. Make him feel like you just met and recreate that chemistry that made you both irresistible to each other in the first place.
14. Find simple ways to show your love. Make your husband’s lunch if he takes a lunch to work. (And put love notes in with his lunch.) Send him on business trips with a note for each day. Sit down and watch a ballgame next to him if that’s what he enjoys. Offer to mow the lawn or do another chore that he typically does and let him take a Saturday morning off if he doesn’t get to do that very often. Bake his favorite cake or make his favorite dinner on a regular basis. Talk about how awesome he is in front of other people with him nearby so he can hear you genuinely praise him. Make a list of all the things about him that you love or that made you fall in love with him and be sure to tell him what those are when he needs encouragement.
Please feel free to add your own tips and ideas in the comments section. I am always looking for ways to cheer on my husband and would love to hear your thoughts!