Thanks for the inspiration, Gaye!
A few days ago, I read a really good article on Gaye Christmus’s “Calm Healthy Sexy” blog called “6 Ways to Enjoy and Appreciate Your Husband’s Masculinity“, and as a husband I applaud the items in her lineup. If I had been asked to respond to a poll, I’m quite sure that most (if not ALL) of her choices would have made my own listing. I especially appreciated her first item – “Let your husband do things for you.” Gaye said “Most men like to take care of their woman, so let your husband do what he wants to do for you!” Just like most of the married guys I know, this is absolutely true for me as well. While Tiffani is completely capable of handling just about anything that comes her way, I LOVE to do things for her. I enjoy taking some of the load off her shoulders as often as I can.
Here’s an example… if the kitchen is not clean and ready for the next day before we go to bed, my dear wife will go on a sleep strike – refusing to go to bed until said kitchen has been put to her liking – no matter how late it gets. She loathes walking into a new morning seeing the sink stacked with dishes, and junk all over the table and countertops. This phenomenon has caused me to begin working on something within myself… I am convinced that most of us men were born with selective blindness, and will continue to step over the piles of “stuff” until our wives point out that the path will be much easier to traverse if we remove the obstacles from it. So lately, when we have a family dinner at the table (which is MOST of the time), before any of the four kids are excused from the table, I give them the speech: “Nobody leaves the kitchen until all dishes are rinsed and stacked in the dishwasher, the ketchup and other ‘extras’ are back in the fridge, any leftover dinner has been packaged up, and the countertops are the way your mom likes them.” Do I get it right every night? No. And shame on me for that. But I’m trying to get better at this one thing. I know without a shadow of a doubt, this simple task blesses my wife. And it is a blessing I ENJOY giving her.
So in response to Gaye’s “6 Ways to Enjoy and Appreciate Your Husband’s Masculinity“, here are my “6 Ways to Enjoy and Appreciate Your Wife’s Femininity.”
1. Give her the freedom to have an opinion. God blessed your wife with a brain and the ability to think. She is NOT you. Therefore as you go through life, many conclusions she comes to will probably not exactly mirror whatever thoughts you may have on a given matter. This does not necessarily make her conclusions wrong, it simply makes them different. When faced with a decision that involves your wife (or wife and kids), ask for her thoughts on the situation. This shows her that you care what she thinks, especially if you give her thoughts “weight” in your decision making process. My wife and I work pretty well as a team in the decision-making arena. We discuss most decisions (other than whether I’m going to have peanut butter or tuna salad on my sandwich) and we come to a conclusion together based on the facts and research that we have each done. Early in our marriage, we struggled hard with this. But I can’t recall a single situation in at least the last 10 years where one of us has made a hard decision without the highly-valued input of the other.
2. Listen, but don’t “fix it”. Gentlemen, we need to face the facts… we are FIXERS. It’s apparently in our blood to want to fix anything that’s broken around us – lawnchairs, fences, automobiles, garage doors, kids’ toys, and our wives. Even those of us who were not brought up memorizing the Home Depot aisles still seem to have a deep-seated need to make sure that the things around us just work. This doesn’t go over so well when the subject is our wife. She was born with a need to connect with us emotionally. Most of the time this means “talk”. She needs to talk through those things that are bothering her. And you sir, being your wife’s closest neighbor, is the one she wants to talk with. She married you because she wants to connect with you, to share life’s burdens and joys. For her, talking with you is how that happens most of the time. I strongly suggest you get in the habit of sharing that time with her on a regular basis. If she doesn’t get it with you, she will find a girlfriend to unload on – or God forbid, another man. And trust me as one who’s been there long ago, you DO NOT want that to happen. That leads to doors that you never want opened. But I digress… Your wife wants to connect on a deep level in conversation with you. But unless she asks for it, don’t try to fix all her issues. It’s not wise to tell her how to feel either. Saying “you shouldn’t feel that way” is not helpful to her. Let HER express to you how SHE is feeling. Her feelings are not wrong – they are her feelings. Offer to be a shoulder for her to lean on, be a great listener and hear her out. But most importantly, take her before the King in prayer – right then and there. Ask God to give your wife peace about whatever is stressing her out, ask Him to give you wisdom in how (or even IF) you can help her, and ask that He would cover the whole situation (whatever it may be) in His grace.
Believe me guys, I know it goes against our grain to NOT do everything in our power to fix up the situation and hand it all gift-wrapped to our wife. But I’ve learned a thing or two in the 30 years of married life I’ve experienced so far. And this is a biggie.
3. Romance her. This is the strange one. This is the odd one. This is the one that is the hardest to understand, let alone explain.
Most of us men grew up learning from the same teenage boys’ manual. “Romance” is spelled S-E-X. I hate to bust the bubbles, but this is not true for the majority of women. You’ve heard of the “five love languages”, yes? While I don’t base my entire life and theology of marriage on them, the concepts described therein are sound. They do indeed hold a lot of truth for us. For my wife, seeing me loading the dishwasher is sweet. Watching me mow the 3 acres of lawn area around the house is sexy. Knowing that I just took all the garbage out occasionally causes her look at me with a come-hither smile! The love language that speaks to her is called Acts of Service. The idea behind the love languages is that you need to find out which one speaks love to your wife – then speak to her in THAT language. You will accomplish very little by trying to force your own language on her. It just won’t do much at all for her. When you speak to her in the style she desires most, you are truly “romancing” your lady.
DISCLAIMER: It is a known fact that the majority of men see sex as “romance”, and the majority of women do not. However, this is not a blanket statement meant to cover ALL men and women. If this particular thing doesn’t apply in you or your wife’s life, then please figure out what works in your situation and apply appropriately.
4. Share the load. I, along with many men, grew up with the idea in our heads that we go out to our job to make the money, and when we get home our job is done and our “unwinding time” begins. Many men have wives that work outside the home. Why fellas, do the wives not get to apply the same logic to themselves? WHO created the double standard? Are you contributing to the normal wear and tear and mess in the house? Did you help to MAKE those children? Then why is she 100% responsible for their upbringing? She shouldn’t be! Is your wife the only one capable of giving them a bath? Changing a diaper? Teaching the toddler how to put their toys away? The answer is a resounding NO.
In the world we live in today, many couples both work outside the home. Tiffani and I used to be in that situation, but the Lord blessed us years ago with the ability to live on my salary alone. But that doesn’t mean she sits at home twiddling her thumbs. She homeschools four children between 9 and 16 years old while also managing our 10-acre farm with all the animals. She runs all the errands and takes all the kids to doctors and dentists. She works (at least) as hard as I do – perhaps even more so. The only thing I have that she doesn’t is the 60 mile drive twice a day. She deserves for me to help with the things that keep the home we share running. This is an area where my old habits are hard to break, but I’m working on it.
The main point of this is to figure out what level of load-sharing works best in YOUR home, and make that a habit between you and your wife. Men, you can’t expect to let your wife work all day AND all evening (while you lounge comfortably on the couch), and then also expect her to be ready for you when it’s time for bed. You want her to have energy for you? Then take some of that burden off her. Figure it out…
5. DON’T compare her to other women. Dudes, I cannot begin to describe to you how demeaning this is for your wife. You want to crush her sweet spirit? Going to the mall with her and tripping over your own tongue while staring at the female eye-candy is a great way to accomplish this. Our Godless society has virtually guaranteed that you’ll have plenty to stare at – unless you choose to honor your covenant with God and your wife – and make HER your standard of beauty. In April 2017 I wrote a post called “Revisiting The Most Beautiful Woman” addressing this very topic. I’ve linked it above, so please read it next. You may find it very enlightening!
6. Communicate! This one falls into the “common courtesy” category. Your wife will feel loved and appreciated through the simple act of communication. If you’re going to be late leaving the office, let her know. When you’re going over to a buddy’s house to help him fix something, make sure she knows where you’ll be and roughly what time to expect you home. If you want to take her out for dinner, don’t wait until she’s started the oven at home and is 25 minutes into a meatloaf bake before you break the news. It’s more likely she’ll feel that her efforts were wasted and unappreciated, which will put a dark cloud over her head during your dinner out. The more you keep your lady in-the-know about you, the more she will believe that you love and care about her as a person.
The things I’ve written above are all from my own personal experiences. In just a couple of months, Tiffani and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary. Not all of those years were wonderful and sparkly, but the hard lessons we’ve learned over those many years have caused our marriage to transform into something that I DO consider to be wonderful and sparkly! She and I have walked the rough roads, and where we are today is a testament to both God’s mercy, and a love for each other that is non-negotiable. You can have the same in your own marriage, but it doesn’t just come to you. You must put in the time and effort. Make these ideas habits in your life, and see if you don’t create some new sparkle in your own marriage. I’m betting you DO.
Thank you Beth for allowing us to link up!
Image used with permission from meepoohyaphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net