Take Stock of Your Marriage…
Gentlemen, are you growing frustrated with trying so hard to make your wife happy, yet feeling like every effort you make is a failure? It’s very common, and you’re not alone. My hope for this post is that I can help you begin to turn that around, bit by bit. There is no magic fix, but by establishing some good habits in your life and marriage, you have the ability to change the course you’re on.
Think about the days when you and your wife were not yet married. What things did you do for her that helped her make that ultimate decision to spend her life with you? Did you open the car door for her when you went out? Buy her flowers from time to time? Write her love letters? Take her for walks in the park? Did you let her dunk her french fries in your vanilla shake? (Yeah, that last one hits home for me!)
What about now? Have those things all but died away? The most common answer is “yes”, but then my question becomes “Why? What changed? Who gave the order that after you get married, all that stuff has to stop??” It’s my opinion that Satan – the enemy of marriage, the enemy of your soul, the very enemy of God is the one who pushes that idea. And he knows that as we get into the busy-ness of life with kids, jobs, bills, and trials that come our way, we will very quickly buy into the idea “I just don’t have time for all that.” Unfortunately, this has the long-term effect of allowing you and your wife to drift apart into the “parallel life syndrome.” That’s where you and your wife settle into the routine of living side by side, day by day, but rarely cross paths to enjoy things together. At some point, this happens in nearly every marriage. It’s up to US to change it – intentionally.
Consider Your Communication…
I’ve talked about the concept of the “Five Love Languages” (Gary Chapman) here before, and that certainly applies in today’s discussion. If you’re not familiar with this idea, allow me to explain it this way… if you speak and understand one language, and the person you’re attempting to communicate with speaks and understands some OTHER language, your communication simply is not going to get very far at all. But if you speak to them in their own language, all of a sudden the whole world opens up to the both of you. Now let’s apply this concept to your marriage…
The five love languages are (1) Words of Affirmation (using words to encourage someone), (2) Acts of Service (performing actions that uplift another), (3) Receiving Gifts (the giving of gifts to show appreciation), (4) Quality Time (spending uninterrupted and undivided time with someone), (5) Physical Touch (human touch makes one feel reassured).
Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that your main love language is receiving gifts, and your wife’s is words of affirmation. You’ve probably been working overtime to buy (or even MAKE) meaningful little things for her that you would find absolutely priceless. But here’s the stinger… She’s not “getting you” because you’re not speaking her language! You’re communicating with her in the way that means something to YOU, not her. She probably thinks that your efforts were a nice thing, but something is definitely lacking. If you really want to be her Superman, you’ve got to step up that game quite a bit. Try writing her a love letter with pen & paper (no texting!). Buy her a card, write your message in it, and mail it to your own home address so she’ll receive it. Praise her (sincerely) in public when you’re around other people, or even in front of your own children. Go to the effort to learn HER language, and before long you’ll be the guy she REALLY wants to be around again – just like your dating days! But you can’t just do this for a certain period of time and then go back to your old ways. This must be an intentional shift away from the old – to learn new habits and incorporate them into your life ongoing.
As I’ve said in previous posts, while my ministry to marriages doesn’t live and die by the love languages, the concept is sound and true. I am also very firmly of the belief that with practice, we can LEARN new languages and become more appreciative when people (including our spouse) make attempts to communicate with us in ways other than our main love language.
A few of my own ideas…
A few things just off the top of my head that might help you:
- Take out the trash without being asked.
- LISTEN to her when she wants to talk heart to heart with you.
- Buy her little things that you know she’ll like from time to time.
- Take a hand-holding walk around the park at sunset.
- Fill up her car often and get the services done on it when necessary.
- Be united with her in front of your children – don’t give them ammunition to play the two of you against each other. (If you give them the chance, THEY WILL!)
- Offer regular sincere praise & compliments, especially when around others.
- “Little dates” are just as important as big ones. Coffee at a drive-thru can mean just as much (or even more) to her than steak and wine at the local chophouse.
- THANK HER on a regular basis.
Last week I posted a question on two Facebook pages – my personal one, and the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association group page where I am a member. I asked married women to answer this question:
“What is one thing that your husband does to show you appreciation that really means a lot to you?”
Of the many responses I received, not a single one did I consider over-the-top-crazy or out of line. I truly believe that we men have been guilty for a long time of overthinking many things when it comes to our marriages. We think “If it’s that simple, then it can’t possibly be good enough. My wife will never accept that!” That kind of thinking is misguided, and I’m going to let the ladies explain why.
Thoughts From Some Wives…
Word for word, I’m pasting the women’s responses below. Gentlemen, I want you to really pay attention to what you read here. Not a single one of these answers have anything to do with fancy dates, lots of money, or hours & hours of time. Most are looking for simple interactions with their husbands. A little time spent over coffee. Holding of hands. Snuggling on the couch. Working together to put the dishes away. Open 2-way communication with their men. Are these things really too difficult for us?
- He lotions my feet at night. ~Rachelle Renee Barco-Calderon
- I think what means the most to me is when my husband simply tells me I’m doing a great job as a mom/wife. ~Anonymous
- I am not currently married, but I was for fourteen years. I was a stay at home mom, and the ONE thing he did (there were actually two, both of them equally appreciated). The first was to let me sleep in on weekends when I had an especially harried week-I was taking care of my disabled father at the same time. The second thing was that he would consistently make sure he told me when dinner was good, when I had done something, he would notice. ~Anonymous
- He sits down and has coffee with me. ~Keelie Reason, blogger at Love Hope Adventure
- In the last 8 months when I’ve really needed his support he has really stepped up for me – tells me he knows I can do things but would rather I not until I’m much better. He know it’s important to me that I think I can still do some things but puts it in a nice enough way that I don’t have to. ~Deborah Miller (recently had major surgery)
- He supports activities and other things that are important to me, even if they are not important to him. ~Michele Bell
- When he tells me to my face that he appreciates me… When I can tell it is heart felt. That ministers to me more than anything. ~Tara Dixon
- My husband told a co worker I spoiled him by making his lunch and the guy said call my wife to teach her. He often thanks me for doing so even though it’s mundane lunches mostly. ~Kelli Gilbreath Strickland Stewart
- Helping me with the kids and the chores around the house. ~Kristina Funderburk
- My husband is awesome! He comes home earlier than I do from work and tries to have the house picked up/dinner started, by the time I get home. The other act of love and kindness he does for me is when he gets up in the middle of the night to take care of our young toddler. Our baby still wakes up twice a night looking for mommy to put him back to sleep. These are just a couple of examples that mean so much to me as a work-outside-the-home mother and wife. He understands I come home tired just like he does and he gets a head start on things he knows will make my life a little easier when I come home. ~Adriana Crenshaw
- My husband makes my coffee every morning. It’s not a big gesture, but it happens every day and that reinforces his appreciation of me each morning. ~Rebekah Hallberg, blogger at Sharing Redemption’s Stories
- When he opens up and talks to me. I don’t like it when he’s silent and doesn’t share but it means a lot when he does because I feel more connected to him and like we can conquer the world together. ~Mrs. Sanders
- I love when Jeff just rubs my back and massages me. My love language is physical touch so I receive from and appreciate this gesture so much. ~Nicole Ezell
- When I’m busy and stressed…. (with a good dose of frustration) and I’m running around the house trying to complete different tasks he’ll occasionally come up to me….. cup his hands around my face and give me a sweet kiss. This makes me feel grounded and calm…. like he’s my protector and my rock. I love that feeling. ~Audrey Riedstra
- When he TELLS me that he appreciates me. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed the little things he does escape my attention and do not get recognized. So it means a lot to me when he verbalizes it. ~Anonymous
- My husband will go grocery shopping during the week if needed and we both go shopping on Sundays together. Afterward, we’ll stop and have a drink before we head home. Also he will cook dinners. To me, these are big things he does for me and I so appreciate him doing these things. We just had our 33 year anniversary… Oh, and when he shops by himself he always buys me M&M’s. ~Elaine Deursch
- He listens to my rambling. ~Anonymous
- Many answers would be appropriate for me. But I think what stands out most is the verbal and written affirmation. I’m a hugger, physical touch gal followed by acts of service. So you’d think something along those lines would be at the top of my list. But when he tells me straight from his heart how he feels—swoon!!! ~Rena Gunther, blogger and author at Lines In The Sand
- When he rubs/massages my shoulders. I am a sucker for back rubs. (I can’t get enough) Also, when he takes me on a date…and has it already planned out. I have to make a lot of decisions. To not have to pick what we do, in that evening, shows me he has taken the time to plan for us. Swoon ~Serena Wohlgemuth
- When he can tell I’m about to lose it and he takes over. ~Randi Renee Graves
- When, without being asked, he stops what he is doing to help me or takes over a difficult task and tells me to relax while he takes care of it. The key is helping without being asked. Lol ~Amber Richards
- Since I had bariatric surgery he will, without a word or look, reach over and slide my plate away before I can eat that one bite too much. It shows how aware of me he actually is and that he is actually paying attention. Other times it is holding the door open or opening the car door for me, or just a hand on my back or taking my hand just at the right moment. ~Cynthia Carey
- There are so many things but the biggest is when he lets me snuggle under him. I put off a ton of body heat and he can’t stand it but he’ll still curl up with me or rest his arm on my hip so that I can fall asleep. I suffer from anxiety and instead of having to use a weighted blanket at night, he uses his body weight to help me rest. ~Katherine Shorter, blogger at Yoked
- He makes breakfast every morning. He knows acts of service mean the world to me so he has taken it upon himself to keep up on laundry and keep food in my belly ~Emily Kay
- I’ve considered what says appreciation, and for me what says love is synonymous. For years, he has emptied the dishwasher. He also remembers and celebrates the special days, taking off work for my birthday and our anniversary to spend time together. ~Bonny Burns, blogger at Oysterbed7
- Verbal expression is most meaningful to me–words spoken to me or about me, or written words. ~Tami Myer, blogger at Manna For Marriage
- As you know, Jason, Spock (husband’s nickname) is not emotionally expressive, including the appreciation category. So I honestly had to mull over this one for a while. Then it occurred to me that I feel so so appreciated when we go to a work gathering or a church event or out with friends and one of them tells me how much my husband compliments me. I feel like Mark Twain at that moment: “I can live on a good compliment two weeks…” Spock forgets sometimes to say it to me, but knowing that he thinks about me when we’re away from each other and speaks positively about me to others makes me feel deeply appreciated. ~J Parker, blogger at Hot, Holy & Humorous
- He holds my hand, opens doors for me, calls me just to tell me he loves me, wants me to sit in the middle seat of the pickup next to him, and sends me pretty pictures of beautiful things he randomly sees during the day just because he wants to share them with me. Oh yeah, then he tells me how they pale in comparison to my beauty. Is that one thing?? ~Cheryl Hawkins
- When I get into my car and my gas tank is full. When he surprises me with dinner when I get home from work. ~Cindee Bembry
- He makes me tea and brings it to me every morning in a different China cup from my collection ! I taste the love!!! ~Jenni Means, wife to Scott – who blogs at Heaven Made Marriage
- When he pitches in and shows the children how to get things done around the house that I am unable to do (physically or time-related). AND when he writes words of affirmation for me. ~Tiffani Graves, co-blogger at My Beloved Is Mine! AND my very own beautiful wife!
Guys, based on what we just read together, I really believe that the main thing your wife wants from you, is YOU. Start spending some “together time” with your wife, and learn to speak her love language. THIS will show her that you appreciate her for who she is.
Please let me hear from you in the comments below if this post has meant something to you.
May your marriage be wrapped in the peace of Christ.
“The 5 Love Languages”, written by Gary Chapman – Take the Love Language test for yourself!
Image used with permission from Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net