In this episode of the Manlihood Mancast, Josh Hatcher tells us how to love our wives more than we love ourself.
Balance the Old Fashioned ways with freedom and respect.
Sometime during the last cultural revolution, a number of ancient truths have been tossed aside. Losing some old and antiquated ideas may have been good for our culture in some ways- but in others, we’ve lost some of the ancient wisdom that held our society together.
Marriage may seem like an old fashioned idea. I’ve heard it described as “a contract for female slavery” and “a ridiculous old fashioned idea.”
I want to make it clear that I’m admittedly old fashioned about this. I’m proud of it and unapologetic. That doesn’t mean I’m judgmental of those who do things differently.
But I firmly believe that while marriage is old fashioned, it’s also not meant to place women in a lower or lesser place.
Marriage is meant to be a union of two people. Do I think there is a natural authority of husband and father in a home? Yes. But that authority and leadership does not imply inequality.
If you want to love your wife well, then you need to not have a “Leave it to Beaver” June Cleaver definition in your mind of what’s expected of her. Especially in today’s culture, when women work outside the home – don’t demand that she be your house servant as well. Cooking and cleaning are not just women’s work. We all have to chip in. If she is a stay at home wife, it may seem fair to ask her to do more than a wife who is working outside the home as much as you are. But make sure that any expectations you have are communicated and worked out together, not demanded, solely because she’s a woman.
The old fashioned part about marriage that I love – is that it’s about commitment. Life long commitment.
Your wedding vows were not “until I don’t feel like it anymore.”
No – those vows were, “till death do us part.”
I understand that sometimes circumstances arise that change things, that make it difficult, that make it hard.
But make sure that for everything in your power, you do everything possible to honor that commitment. Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t make excuses. Just choose to honor your commitment.
How well do you know her? I know that now that my wife and I are approaching the time in our life when we’ve been together longer than apart, I know her well. Very well. I can walk in the room, and without a word, I can tell what she’s thinking, or how she’s feeling. (Not always, of course – women, after all, are always mysterious and surprising sometimes.)
As we get older, this relationship changes and morphs. It’s not just physical or emotional. It’s spiritual.
I am not saying we are a perfect example – we frustrate each other and annoy each other all the time. But I can tell you that for almost 20 years, I’ve studied her.
When we were dating – we started out asking each other questions. When we were engaged, we read books together about marriage -and went through THREE different premarital counseling courses. We knew we were getting married young and making what everyone else thought was a bad decision – so we wanted to make sure we were well equipped to face it.
So we started off with a really strong foundation.
As we have progressed in our relationship – I’ve always tried to be attentive to her. She thinks I don’t pay attention – but I do. Sometimes I choose NOT to do the thing that she wants me to do – for any number of reasons. But in general, I want to KNOW this woman I married.
In the bedroom, I know what she likes.
In the kitchen, I know what she likes.
If you want to know how to study and learn your wife, I highly recommend you read the book “The 5 Love Languages” as a starting place.
It breaks down the different ways that people love, and it will help you understand her, and how to communicate with her.
This, is perhaps the hardest part of love. Men, we see ourselves as leaders. (Which isn’t a bad thing. We’ll get to leadership, and what that means in a minute.) We see ourselves as lovers, we see ourselves in so many ways, but picturing ourselves as servants is so difficult.
The truth? No matter where you are in live, you’re a servant to someone.
To quote, Bob Dylan, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the Devil, it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
In the case of marriage, you’re either serving yourself, or you are serving her.
Are you helping her with chores around the house? Are you providing for her needs? Are you doing things that help her? Are you making sure to please her first in the bedroom? (C’mon guys. You know that matters!)
If you want a happy wife, you’ve got to take on the role of a servant. It will make you a great husband. A happy husband. And if you do it well, and if you do it right, she’ll reciprocate.
Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Listen to her.
Women are a mystery. I know it may be overgeneralization to say this – so apply whatever amount of common sense is needed to understand it.
Women don’t want you to fix their problem, as much as they want to feel understood, acknowledged, or listened to.
There are times, obviously, when what she really wants is for you to fix the drain under the kitchen sink.
But there are many times, she just needs to air her grievances to her best friend. She doesn’t want you to solve or fix the problem, but to listen to her.
This is hard for us. Men are fixers. It’s in our nature as men to find broken things and fix them.
Women do want things to be fixed. But more importantly, they just want to be heard, understood, loved, accepted.
It may seem counterintuitive and self-sabotaging to sit in that situation, where she pours her heart out, and you just listen.
You would not think that it is difficult, but learning to listen has been one of the toughest challenges of my relationship with my wife. I’ve always got a solution, and answer, a suggestion. Keeping those quiet long enough to fulfill her actual need, though, the need to be heard and understood – that’s the real challenge.
Thank and Affirm Her.
Use your words. Say what you think and feel about her. I don’t know why this is so difficult for many men to do – but it’s essential to building a good relationship.
She needs to hear, “Thank you.” How often?
You can never say it enough.
She needs to hear, “You are beautiful.” How often?
You can never say it enough.
There are many things unique to your wife that she needs to hear, and I’ll leave that up to you to decode and decipher her. But I can tell you that almost every woman I’ve ever met struggles with self-image, self-worth, self-doubt issues. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a common thing women struggle with.
As a husband, your responsibility is to build her up. To affirm her. To use your words to reassure, comfort, and back her up.
I would talk about the negative things we say – when we cut down, criticize, and tear her apart with our comments – but honestly, that’s another discussion entirely. All that I will say is to stop. If you have constructive advice or concerns – you need to wrap that in love. For every legitimate criticism, you should have already given her five to ten compliments.
Ultimately, men, the key component is understanding that love is a long series of small intentional choices and actions. It’s not warm and fuzzy feelings. You don’t “fall out of love” – you just stop tending it properly, and it gets choked out. So treat it like a garden, manicured, weeded, watered, and it will bear fruit.
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