Earlier this week we had some family photos taken by a photographer that I’d been eager to work with for months. My hubby and I arrived a little early to scope out the site and get our “look” together before the shoot. Baby girl was conked out in the back seat— which had me on pins and needles wondering if she would wake up fussing and red-faced or smiley and jabbering.
The photographer pulled up and got ready to begin, but the baby still wasn’t moving a muscle.
Mamas— you know—- it’s SUCH a shame to wake a sleeping baby, and double ‘no-no’ if you need her in a good mood and looking her best for family photos.
So—the photographer suggested we use the opportunity to take a few husband and wife shots. She positioned us in front of a lush South Texas landscape and coached us through a number of standard, but adorable “couple poses.”
Standing there beside my other half of 10 years, I couldn’t help but notice how easy it was to gaze up at him with the same love and admiration as a newlywed. It got me wondering how many other couples today could say the same, and I felt the Holy Spirit gently nudging me to share some of our relationship secrets. Maybe they will help or encourage a couple or two.
Don’t get me wrong. It has NOT been all sunshine and daisies in this relationship. My husband and I have faced just as many, if not more, challenges as most couples. We’ve been completely defeated and decidedly ready to throw in the towel more than once. But in those worst moments, we chose to seek God rather than listen to our emotions. AND then, we diligently learned and applied the practical actions and behaviors it takes to maintain a healthy relationship. That is what made all the difference.
Our reward is a beautiful, enduring, mature love. A fresh vision every day. A steadfast fulfillment in one another with God right spot in the center. This doesn’t mean we never face slip-ups or challenges, but when we do, we have a toolbox that we can turn to in order to set things right again.
Real quick—if you are in a relationship where you are being verbally, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused— please read this post instead. I have a very different and specific message for you.
So, for the wife who is willing to do her part to pour into her husband, here are 5 keys that worked for me and revealed the man of my dreams right inside my husband:
1) Offer Words of Encouragement
Listen, for some reason wives are notorious for the nasty words they say to their husbands. There are SEVERAL scriptures about it in the bible, and it only takes about 5 minutes of daytime television to see a caricature example of this phenomenon in our culture.
I personally have fallen into the trap of nagging, complaining, and feeling the urge to correct every behavior or action that I believed wasn’t right. Rather than compelling my husband to “improve” though, it made him feel henpecked and like he just couldn’t win. Meanwhile, I lived in a cycle of negativity that kept me on the hunt for every mistake.
So ladies—- I can’t emphasize this enough. GUARD your mouth when you’re speaking to the man who put a ring on your finder. Focus on the things he’s doing right. Offer sincere compliments. Show appreciation verbally. AND for heaven’s sake, bite your tongue when you feel the need to correct some unpleasant behavior.
Focus on the positive and you’ll get more of it.
2) Show Him Respect and Honor
God made men to be adventurers and warriors, and gave them a heart to protect and provide for their leading lady and children. So for that reason, relationships run into big trouble when everyone but a man’s wife treats him like a man.
Consider especially what you say in front of your children, family, friends, and in public.
But even more importantly, consider HOW you say it.
Allow your man to express his opinions and complete his sentences without interrupting him. Listen and acknowledge him when he makes a request or shares a thought. And only speak about him in a way that would honor him, whether he’s present or not. (These practices took some time for me, and believe me, I’m still working on them— but I will say that my husband stands a little taller when I succeed.)
Most men want to make their wives happy (for more reasons than just the tongue in cheek phrase “if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”), so he’ll probably be very open to hearing what you want. But you’re going to shut that man down and breed resentment if everything coming out of your mouth is a demand, criticism, or manipulative judgment. Try asking for what you want or need in a thoughtful, respectful way. If you wouldn’t speak with that tone to a pastor or colleague, don’t use it with your husband. He needs YOUR respect more than anyone else’s. In fact, the whole world can dog on a man, but if his wife treats him like a king, that man will slay giants and defeat armies.
3) Speak His Love Language
Our culture loves to over-simplify the differences between men and women with thousands of generalizations. (“Men are from mars and women are from venus” comes to mind…) The truth is, we are all individuals with specific attributes and needs that require more study and consideration than these generalizations afford us.
I love me a chuckle— don’t get me wrong. I can wind up in stitches right quick when talking with a girlfriend about how needy men can get when they’re sick! (INSERT REMINDER to honor him in public…) But I think for a lasting, healthy relationship, it’s very important to pay attention to the individual needs of your man and learn how to meet them. I found The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman VERY helpful for figuring out how to show my husband that I love him.
Do a little reconnaissance and find out what matters most to your man. It might be snuggles or a foot rub, bringing him a cold glass of sweet tea while he works in the garage, keeping the house a certain way, sitting quietly with him while he reads or watches a documentary, preparing his favorite meal or treat, tagging along to Home Depot or his flag football game, or a daily “I love you so much. Thank you for everything you do for our family. We couldn’t do it without you.” Each person is different— so find out what your husband responds to best and you’ll have a head start in keeping that love bank full.
4) Exude an Attitude of Admiration
I think one of the keys to a man’s heart is in his woman’s eyes. When was the last time you looked at your husband like he was your hero? Early relationships are full of loving gazes. You know—those moments when you think, “How did I get so lucky?” and it reflects in your facial expression.
When we think about it, both men and women don’t want that feeling to go away. I certainly don’t want my husband looking at me like, “I can’t believe I’m stuck with this old, nagging broad.” And he doesn’t want me looking at him like, “Are you really that dense? Can you seriously do nothing right? This would be easier without you.”
We both want to feel cherished, that our spouse is grateful to have us, and like they believe they hit the marriage jackpot all these years later. A powerful tool is to train yourself to give these gazes back to your husband. At first you may not 100% feel it, but with time you will. Begin by making a concerted effort to never look at him with annoyance, judgment, or disgust. As you pour into him, he will gradually begin pouring into you.
5) Give Him Expressions of Desire
Men need to know they’re wanted just as much, if not more, as they need sex. Make an effort to communicate to your husband that he is desirable to you.
This is as simple as greeting him with a smile and a kiss when you see each other after a long day, to spending time and effort to look and smell attractive, to showing your man that he is still wanted by you with a facial expression or a touch.
Yes, every married couple needs to make sex a priority, but it’s bigger than that. Some women freely give sex to their husbands but act as if it’s a chore or inconvenience. I know as well as the next person that once kids are in the picture, you might both be too exhausted at times, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let him know he is desirable. Just the suggestion goes a long way.
You may be wondering why I titled this blog “5 Keys to Finding the Man of Your Dreams Inside Your Husband” when the whole thing talks about how to be a better wife. Well, it’s for just that reason. Being an excellent wife IS EXACTLY how to find the man of your dreams inside your husband. Men are fairly simple creatures who usually want to do the right thing. Treat him well, and in most cases, he’ll treat you well. Your efforts will draw that dreamboat out of him if you’re sincere and give it time.
Our culture is HUNGRY to see happy, sustained, loving marriages, and I know that’s what you want, too. We can BE those examples! You know why millions of Americans tune in to HGTV every Tuesday night for “Fixer Upper?” It’s not just for the beautiful design and exciting renovations— it’s because we look at Chip and Joanna Gaines and think— “Wow, they really love AND like each other. What a wonderful life they’ve built together.” We can be that in our circle of influence, and I can’t wait to hear how you make it happen!
What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear how you pull the best out of your man!
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