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“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”
When my post Let Your Husband Be A Man went viral, I was surprised to hear feedback from just as many men as women about what I had to say. I’m so grateful that it resonated with Christian families the way it did. I heard from wives who found healthy, biblical reminders, and husbands who felt understood and validated. For that I give all the glory to God. May we grow ever closer to Him and one another. May we fight for His dream for marriage: “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” May we embrace our marital covenants with renewed passion and greater equipping.
As a result of that post, a powerful follow-up question emerged. It came from multiple men– but also echoed robustly against the walls of my own heart.
What about the wives? How do we let our wives be women?
What about them are we forgetting, misunderstanding, or overlooking?
How can husbands learn to love their wives well?
After speaking prayerfully with many women, my own husband, and God– today I’m taking a stab at answering this complex question.
To our husbands:
I have to be honest, as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m a little scared. I’ve been vulnerable in posts before, but this is different. This is the stuff we don’t say—at least not often and not publicly. These are the secrets that give you power to hurt us. And even though I’m trusting you won’t— that you’re here reading because you really want to understand and take good care of your wife— it still feels… a little risky to share. Before I dive in— can I ask you a few favors?
- Read with an open mind and an open heart. More than anything, I want your marriage to thrive. I want your needs met and your wife’s needs met. To get the most out of this post, I suggest that you proactively lay down your defenses right now and give God space to work.
- Don’t take this as gospel. Not every woman is the same. (Sorry—there’s still no user’s manual for the fairer sex. 🙂 ) These truths apply to many of the thousands of women I interact with, but not all of them. If you have questions—talk to your wife and get clarification. She may or may not agree with what I have to say. And that’s OK. My primary goal with this post is to get the two of you communicating, not to be right.
- Take these ideas to God and ask Him to give you revelation, insight, and confirmation through the Holy Spirit. I don’t, for a second, claim to know everything. Sometimes I’m wrong. (Yes, even though I’m a woman, I’ll concede that… 🙂 ) I’m just a wife who loves Jesus and who’s overcome crazy odds in her marriage. We’ve survived impossible challenges and learned so much. If I can share something that will help you and your family, I am so completely willing.
With that out of the way, we should be good now. Thank you so much for hearing me out. You’re a meat and potatoes kinda guy, right? Great. Let’s get into the meaty stuff.
Here are the 7 secrets of a woman’s heart that every husband needs to know:
1. Her greatest need is love.
I know you love her and God knows you love her, but does she really know you love her? How do you show her? Have you learned how she receives love?
It’s no accident that the greatest instruction to husbands in the bible is:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her…”
Sacrificial love is what a wife needs to thrive.
Here’s where a common problem emerges: when a man loves his wife and he works hard to provide for her—he’s often convinced that’s enough. I’m not saying it isn’t— I commend you for it. However while your wife surely appreciates what you do, she may not feel loved because of it.
Have you ever heard of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman? This wonderful book explains that different people receive love in different ways. If you give love by doing, but she receives love through affirming words—all of your efforts are futile. Learn her love language and start communicating in it.
Your wife’s need to feel loved and cherished is equivalent to your need to be respected and honored. This is so important. I promise, you don’t need a manual to understand your wife, you just need to learn how she receives love and start fluently speaking that language.
“House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.”
2. Her longing is to be your #1.
When I was a little girl, my daddy would tell me that my mom was his #1. He would say that he loved her most and she would always come first. That was the correct order of things—biblically speaking, but it made me aware of a deep, longing in my young, feminine heart. I wanted to be someone’s number one. And from then on I began dreaming of my wedding day when that would be a reality for me.
“You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.”
– Song of Solomon 4:9
Does your wife feel like your number one? Do you talk to her like she is your beloved, beautiful queen or like she’s your buddy? An irritation? Your maid or cook? Do you always consider her feelings and honor them?
Do you treat her like the greatest gift God ever gave you?
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.” –Proverbs 12:4a
Some of the key areas that wives often feel they play second fiddle to are her husband’s career, his buddies, his hobbies, his ministry, the TV, and his mother. I’m not suggesting that you abandon these things altogether— you should give each its due focus. I’m just asking that you reasonably and thoughtfully strive for balance.
If your wife (or others) ever make comments about your conduct in these areas—it’s time to take it to the Lord and ask if changes are required.
A couple of great books, should you wish to dig deeper are:
If you’re not a reader, get the audio books. They’re equally wonderful.
Take some time to think about how your wife feels. Does she often feel second to anything besides God in your eyes? Consider it prayerfully and even ask her about it. A heartfelt apology, open discussion, and decisive efforts to change can go a long way.
3. Her fuel is appreciation and encouragement.
Just like you, your wife is very motivated by appreciation. Many women wonder if anyone notices their sacrifices, and they desperately want a partner who will meet them half way.
When you notice and acknowledge everything she does, it reenergizes her and helps her to keep going in a culture of high expectations, overbooked schedules, and tons of responsibility.
Knowing her love language can help here, too. My love languages are gifts and words of affirmation—so when my husband brings me flowers and says– “Thank you so much for how hard you work and all you do. I notice your effort and I appreciate you so much.”— my love tank overflows. I feel like Wonder Woman and I’m likely to find extra energy to give him a back rub as a result.
The key here is not to just notice her effort and appreciate her, but to make sure she knows you do.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:11
Another wonderful thing you can do is offer her time and space to recharge. Offer her time to go out with her girlfriends and plan date nights to spend with her. (Bonus points if you arrange the babysitter.)
When appropriate and if finances allow—you could even bring in help like a regular sitter one day a week or a cleaning service to help lift the burden. If you know she’s burning the candle at both ends and you have the ability to lighten the load, tell her you want to and then go be the hero.
4. Her daily battle with Satan is intense.
We’re about to make a shift here so I think I’d better give you a heads up. The first 3 points above are very important— and legitimately included on this list— but these last 4 are heavier. This is the stuff that’s harder to say, and you really need to know. Ready? Here we go…
You know that talk track in your head that’s totally evil and tries to convince you that you’re a failure and you’ll never measure up?
Your wife experiences a similar one:
- She’s afraid she’ll never measure up. And never get it all done. Ever.
- She feels guilty for her shortcomings— every one of them. And then she feels guilty for feeling guilty.
- She’s perpetually exhausted from trying so hard and never feeling good enough.
- She’s struggling to keep her wild side “under control.” Somewhere deep down, she knows she’s a warrior—but has no idea how to express it properly. She feels like she has to cage it up.
I love the way the Eldredges put this in their incredible book Captivating:
“She feels like she’s too much and not enough. At the same time.”
(P.S. If you REALLY want to understand your wife or daughter— read Captivating ASAP.)
- She’s not sure how to balance honoring her husband with walking out what she was made to do. She doesn’t want to overshadow him. And she doesn’t want to miss anything God has for her. It’s an impossibly delicate balance.
“Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
-1 Peter 5:8
Be careful before you say that women are crazy and shouldn’t think this way. I wouldn’t dare say you’re weak for listening to the voice threatening that you’re a failure. You’re not. That’s a lie from the pit of hell even on the days it feels so real to you. It’s the same for her. This talk track is an attack from the enemy and you need to treat it as such.
Pray for her. Take authority over the enemy on her behalf. And encourage her daily.
5. Her greatest desire is Heartfelt Conversation.
Many women today are desperately lonely. I hear about this from married women who are surrounded by people. They’re often not sure if anyone really knows them, or even wants to. I believe this is primarily created by a lack of intimacy with God—but secondarily a lack of intimacy with their spouse.
Here’s the thing— “intimacy” is different for a woman than a man. God created us to meet each other’s needs and when this is done right, it becomes very harmonious. For most men, intimacy is created and experienced through sex. For most women, intimacy is created and experienced through real, heartfelt conversation. She wants to know your thoughts and fears and dreams. And she wants you to know hers.
I realize that men struggle with this. I know you don’t want to “go there” because it’s the hardest, most vulnerable thing for you to do. But it’s what your wife needs. It’s how God designed her as a woman.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.”
Isn’t it interesting that in our most important human relationship we’re both required to take a huge risk? To make a personal sacrifice in order to meet our partner’s deepest need? The amazing thing is that once we both do this freely, a shift occurs and a balance is reached. It becomes no longer a sacrifice, but a desire. The trust created by our needs being met makes it a safe place for both of us.
Allow me to elaborate…
6. Her openness for sex is 100% influenced by your ability and willingness to meet her needs.
Listen, I know this debate is an extensive one. I personally spend a lot of time encouraging wives to meet their husbands’ sexual needs and get to the bottom of why they resist sex.
In fact, most women have sexual needs, too. They want to have sex. BUT—they struggle to give the most vulnerable part of themselves when they don’t feel cherished, safe, or convinced you truly want them (details in point #7). Think about it—a woman has to open her body up. It’s a profound invasion of space, so to speak. And depending upon her partner, it’s either wonderful or awful.
I’m the first to admit—sex is a source of pleasure for most women, but it’s still a GREAT vulnerability. It’s something she has to give.
When a women feels cherished and known, when she feels emotionally close to her husband, she will be very enthusiastic about sex. She will pursue it and enjoy it.
When a woman does not feel cherished by her husband– if she doesn’t feel known and loved– she will struggle to be vulnerable with him sexually. She may meet this need for her husband because she knows she’s supposed to, but she will feel empty and perhaps, a little violated. I can’t tell you how many women cry into their pillows after sex because they’ve just met their husband’s greatest need, but theirs has gone overlooked for years.
You are in such a position of power here. I often tell women that if they meet their husbands’ needs, most men will take excellent care of them— likewise if you meet your wife’s needs, she will treat you like a king and she will want you in every way.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.”
–Song of Solomon 1:2
7. Her deepest fear is that you wish she was someone else.
Do you have a wandering eye? Do you check out other women or look at pornography? Are you unfaithful? Many women shrug this off with a sort of “men will be men” attitude, but it is actually their deepest fear realized.
Your wife wonders if, and how often, you look at other women and wish you were with them instead of her—if only for a few minutes. And if you do, deep down I guarantee she knows it.
Remember in number 4 when we talked about her battle with Satan and the thoughts and accusations of not being enough? When she knows or suspects that she’s “not enough” for you— the enemy absolutely devours her with accusations of inadequacy.
Much like God is pursuing His bride, the church, and wants more than anything for her to choose Him and Him only, your wife is designed in His image to desire to be your one and only.
She’s terrified that either now, or one day, you may look at her and not see her beauty. She wonders if you will eventually reject and/or abandon her.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”
–Song of Solomon 4:7
I realize that there are many gorgeous women in the world, but your wife’s dream is that you would find her more beautiful than all of them. If you have a daughter—it’s her dream too. She imagines that her prince charming will have eyes for no one but her, and because she’s so captivating he’ll never look away. I’m sure you want that kind of man for your princess– a loyal man of honor.
If you want to love your wife the way God intended, you have to fight the fallen nature in you that looks at and desires other women. Likewise, she has to fight the fallen nature in her that desires to control. This is dying to self in marriage.
“May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
Pornography is a pervasive problem today. Research shows that it’s as addictive as heroin. If this is something you struggle with– for your sake, your wife’s, your children’s, and the generations that will inherit every blessing and curse you pass down—it’s time to take accountability and get help. The enemy uses accusations and shame to prevent men from admitting to this inner struggle. Take authority over him and fight the good fight. You are a warrior, after all. Will you wage battle? Or let the enemy control you and torment your family? Here’s a great place to start. This ministry is dedicating to helping families and individuals with pornography and sex addition challenges: https://www.xxxchurch.com/
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”
–1 Peter 3:7
So much of your future here on earth and in heaven depends upon how you love your wife. A marriage really requires a mutual submission when you think about it. She must submit to your leadership and you must submit to loving her well— even unto death, as Christ loved the Church. The answers to your personal prayers depend upon it.
In closing, I’d also like to shed light upon another nuance to those of you who have daughters. Your daughters are watching how you treat and love their mother– and they will believe that they deserve the same. This is one way that blessings and cursings get passed down from generation to generation. We each set the stage for our children and then our children’s children.
I know you’re a good man, and you’re doing your best. I know God will continue to take you from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18). I’m encouraging you to take these truths to heart and dig deep into the reserves of your masculine soul. When you come to the end of yourself, I promise the Creator of the Universe is waiting there to renew your strength. Thank you for loving Jesus. Thank you for caring so deeply for your family. I pray blessings upon blessings over all you hold dear, and I can’t wait to hear the testimony of your family now that you know the secrets of your wife’s heart, and she’s learned how to let her husband be a man.
Godspeed my friend.