What Women Need in Marriage – Marriage Message #197
“Men, have you ever asked yourself, ‘Have I been the kind of person my wife has been able to love?’ If you have, you certainly are in the minority. And if you’ve asked your wife, ‘Have I been the kind of person you love to love?’ you are in an even greater minority. So many wives are desperately trying to understand their husbands. But many husbands don’t know what it means to open his heart and let his wife in. When a wife sees that her husband has discovered her need to know what is in her heart, and that he is genuinely concerned about becoming the kind of man that she can truly love, she will be ecstatic.” (Ken Nair from “Discovering the Mind of a Woman”).
After Cindy addressed “What Men Want in Marriage” last week I thought it was only fair that I (Steve) turned the tables and addressed the other side. At the outset I need to say that I don’t consider myself an expert on what wives “need” in marriage, though I’ve read a lot in an effort to learn how to be the kind of husband that Cindy needs. I guess the most accurate description of who I am is a “willing learner” (continuously) of what Cindy needs, because even after 40 years of marriage I still learn something new almost every week.
By no means is this going to be an exhaustive list. If anything this will only scratch the surface. But one thing I know about men is that most of us can become easily overwhelmed (flooded) by too much information and we’ll withdraw from our wives if we start to feel that way.
My goal is to give husbands a few key areas to work on so that our wives will sense we’re willing to open our hearts to them and genuinely want to meet their needs. So, the following is a partial list (that I’ll expand on) derived what women wrote to Promise Keepers a number of years ago as compiled by Holly Phillips called, “What Does She want From Me Anyway?”
— A WOMAN NEEDS a husband willing to assume spiritual leadership of the family. This doesn’t mean a husband who quotes or twists scripture to get his wife to do what he wants.”
Sadly, many men have abused the scriptures for centuries and as a result have left a wake of badly injured wives as a result. Spiritual leadership is not memorizing the Bible or preaching a sermon. It’s understanding what the scriptures say and using them as a guide for loving (not manipulating) your wife. “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) If we spent the next year focusing just on developing those spiritual qualities it would make a radical change in how we love our wives.
Spiritual leadership also means being willing to pray with our wives not just FOR them. Cindy and I know how awkward it is to start this practice and how uncomfortable it can make you feel. But we also know that this is the one spiritual leadership practice that can have the most positive and dramatic affect on your marriage.
Start simple. Maybe just by taking your wife’s hands in yours before you leave the house in the morning and praying, “Lord, thank you for this precious gift you’ve given me in (insert your wife’s name). Bless her richly today and protect her while we’re away from each other; in Jesus name, Amen.” (We have more articles posted in the “Prayer” topic on our web site at www.marriagemissions.com
One woman said of her husbands prayers, “When Ron prays for me, I feel as if I’m covered by a velvety blanket of protection. Even though I still face problems and setbacks, his prayers shelter me from the sharpness of the pain.” [Cindy says she feels the same way when I pray over her.]
— “A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who will listen to his wife.” I admit this doesn’t come naturally for me, or most men. But that doesn’t mean we’re to be given a “pass” on it. It means we have to be willing to learn how to listen. Webster’s Dictionary says it is “to make a conscious effort to hear; attend closely.” I’ve found that if I am to truly listen (make a conscious effort) to hear Cindy I’ll have to put down what I’m reading, or turn the TV off, or close the lid to my laptop and look her in the eyes. Because if I don’t make eye contact with her while she’s speaking I will miss at least 50-75 per cent of what she is trying to get me to hear.
I like the way Ken Nair puts it: “Listening to her means to stop placing little or no value on her words. Concentrate on what she’s saying. Learn to hear what her feelings are saying –not only what her mouth is saying.”
This is another skill that takes time to develop but the payoff is tremendous in building intimacy with our wives. After 40 years of marriage I’ve found that when I take the time to connect (REALLY connect) with Cindy at this level it’s like I’ve just given her the most expensive diamond in the world. That’s how much she longs to be heard and understood.
— A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who will protect his wife and make her feel secure. This means more than protecting her from physical harm. It also means protecting her from emotional harm.”
I don’t believe there’s anything (short of adultery or physical or verbal abuse) that’s more destructive in marriage than a husband who belittles his wife in public. What many men consider a “little joke” about their wife’s cooking, her appearance, the way she keeps the house, etc. can in effect be tantamount to verbally raping her. That’s how hurtful our words can be. Proverbs 12:18 sums it up. “Reckless words pierce like a sword.” And the second part of the verse sums up how we can protect our wives: “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” [NOTE: This works both ways, ladies –you need to watch what you say and how you say it to your husband’s just as much.]
Protecting our wives also means we’re to defend their honor and integrity to our family members. If we have parents or siblings who try to belittle (put down) our wives it is our God given responsibility to defend them and make it absolutely clear that we will not tolerate any slander or verbal abuse against our wife. As for security, that comes when our wives know there is no one thing that comes before her –not our jobs, our family needs, our hobbies, our sports –NOTHING!
We also build security in our wives when we as men take responsibility for our thoughts and actions, especially when it comes to se_ual temptation. I’m not talking about just pornography; I also mean the way we look at other women or talk about how other women look. If you want to find out how well you’re doing in this arena, just ask your wife to read this part of the message and then ask her if she feels secure.
— A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who is a full partner in the marriage.” I like expressing this by using the term, “Oneness” in marriage. This means in areas like disciplining and caring for the children, making financial or other major decisions, sharing responsibilities, we are to be in “oneness” of partnership. The opposite of oneness is alienation and if we as the husband don’t become full partners with our wives they will feel alienated from us, and that is not God’s plan.
I realize that there are dozens of other needs that our wives have, but I must stop here. Please know that in the “For Married Men” section of the Marriage Missions web site you will find many more articles and tips to help you better know the other needs your wife has in marriage. But I’ve given you enough to begin to make a huge difference in your relationship if you will but ask God to help you to implement the areas where you have identified that you are weak. God promises us husbands in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” What this means to me is: I’m weak. I can’t do this in my own strength. God is strong and He can work through me to do what is necessary to bless Cindy.
As always, Cindy and I pray that we will make our marriages a priority and learn what each other needs so that God will get all the glory. We hope this has been helpful. God bless you!
Steve and Cindy Wright
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