More Than Sex: How To Love Your Husband
By Jill Dillard
I attend a monthly book study with some girlfriends of mine and right now we are reading a book, “His Needs, Her Needs,” by Willard Harley. At a recent meeting, a sweet friend of mine was in town and she shared some good advice with us younger wives. I took notes and thought I’d share some of her advice, combine with some of my own thoughts on marriage. I know I personally love learning more about how to have a healthy marriage and reflecting on advice I’ve been given, so I hope you’ll be encouraged and even check out some of the things I mention toward the end and then comment below!
Five years ago this month, I married the man of my dreams, Derick Michael Dillard. Some of you may have watched our love story unfold on TV…if you want to read our love story you can click here. Anyways, like most couples when they get married, we were head over heels for each other…and now, nearly five years later, I can happily say that we are still very much in love.
One thing I got so tired of people saying when we were just getting to know each other, and then as newlyweds too, was stuff like, “Oh you just wait”…or…”You’re just in that newlywed phase.” Although I do realize that sometimes things may change slightly due to life changes (e.g. kids, work schedules, etc.), one thing I think we need to recognize is that the fire in your marriage doesn’t have to die out! But like a fire, sometimes, and more so during some seasons than others, you need to be intentional, proactive and work hard to keep the fire going. I don’t claim to know everything about marriage, or to be presenting some solve-all advice, and I’m only really speaking to wives here, but I hope you find some of these tips to be encouraging!
When my friend’s mom shared her advice with us young wives, she started with a couple Bible verses (Mark 12:30-31 & Luke 10:27), which say essentially the same thing…in Luke, when Jesus was asked how someone could inherit eternal life, he pointed to the religious law of the time which said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus’ advice to the young lawyer who had asked the question was, “do this and you will live.”
So first, we must recognize that in order to love someone fully, we must understand how much we are loved by God and in turn love him with all that we are by repenting of our sin, turning from it, accepting through prayer his free gift of salvation and asking him to take charge of the rest of our life. (If you want to learn more about what I mean by this, click here.) Secondly, if we truly have made Jesus the “Lord” of our life, then that means there should be some fruit to show for it…like the second part of the verse says, “[love] your neighbor as yourself.” And this includes our husbands!
Here are some ways we can love our husbands:
-Have sex often! You both need this time together regularly (3-4 times a week is a good start. lol). And when you may not be able to actually have intercourse for a period of time or for health issues, find other ways to have fun and be intimate. Let your spouse know that you’re aways available. Guard against fulfilling sexual desires alone. Be open with your spouse about your desires and change things up to keep it exciting! (Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 7:5) If you’re struggling with sex with your spouse, GET HELP! See a doctor and/or licensed counselor and don’t be afraid to get second opinions!
-Be open about everything: past, present and future! You need to be able to trust each other with the easy and the hard! Secrets are seeds for destruction! (1 Corinthians 10:13) Sometimes there may be seasons of difficulty or you may have to rebuild broken trust. Ask God to help you and get outside help if needed. We aren’t meant to live life in isolation! We need support and community! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Galatians 6:2)
-Tell your spouse when they hurt you or when you have a problem with something and be quick to forgive! Speak up in love or else the problem will just linger and you may suffer unnecessarily and resentment might build up. See a licensed counselor or get help if problems persist! (Eph. 4:25-27; Matthew 18) However, if you are in an abusive relationship, do NOT stay! Report immediately to the authorities, get help and find a safe place to stay and get counseling from a licensed christian counselor!
-Pray and fast for your husband. Ask him how you can pray for him and let him know when you do (e.g. send him text messages &/or write a little note).
–Look for ways to encourage your hubby, serve him and meet his needs. (God creates us all with a desire to be wanted!) Take the 5 Love Languages quiz together to find out the top ways you each receive love, then look for ways to show it!
-Try to get at least 15-20 min. of uninterrupted time to talk every day! (Time to talk is important!) When he is talking, be quiet and listen, don’t interrupt and draw conclusions or offer advice right away.
-Look nice for him. It’s easy to get home and throw on the frumpy pjs and wash your makeup off, but make sure that a few times a week you enjoy time together looking like you would hanging out when you were dating! Plus, even if you work from home, just getting fixed up in the morning can give you a boost to your day!
-Go to bed fresh! It’s easy to just want to shower in the morning to wake ourselves up, but showering in the evening (and sometimes before he gets home if you arrive home before him!), and even putting on fragrant lotion in front of him can be another way to say “I care” and “you’re important to me,” and lets him know you’re up for fun whenever he is.
-Don’t gossip or name call, even if joking. Be careful not to speak down about one another to each other and/or in the company of others! My parents have been good examples of this to us kids. They would say that “put-downs can plant seeds for divorce in the future”! Beware and ask your spouse to point out to you if you slip up! This can be an easy trap to fall into, especially if you’re hanging out with people and they’re all telling stories or making jokes about their spouses. “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say anything at all!” (Thumper from Bambi)
-Never allow your husband to think you’re his mother! Whether it’s making demands, delegating, or licking your finger and wiping something off his face…if he says “I feel like you’re my mother when you…”, then pay attention to that and ask him what you can to do change/how to handle the situation the next time!
-Expectations: Be careful not to develop an entitlement mindset, e.g. “I deserve you,” or overlook things he does because, “Well, that’s just something a good husband is supposed to do.” Always be grateful and look for ways to praise him directly and in front of others!
-Be open about money and spending habits with your husband! It’s vital that you are on the same page about your finances! Consider taking Financial Peace University (FPU) together! There are so many helpful things they discuss in this class, and you’ll learn so much even if you’re not in debt or have financial trouble! We have been through it twice now and enjoyed it both times!
-Be a good listener! Husbands need to know that we value their interests too! Sometimes it can be hard to stay awake at the end of the day when talking in bed, or hard to avoid working on a project while he shares his heart with you or just talks about his day, but if its’ important to him that he has your full attention (ask him!) then do your best to give it to him! I’m working on this too since I know that when I’m distracted while my husband is talking to me it can send the message to him that I’m not super interested in what he has to say. I’ve found for myself that sometimes drinking an afternoon cup of coffee can be helpful so I’ll be more awake in the evening when he wants to talk. And if you really can’t afford the time/energy for the a long conversation in the moment, communicate this to your husband and let him know that you really want to hear what he has to say, but setting a later time to pick up the conversation may make it easier for you to be all in! Just try not to make this a habit!
-Don’t be disrespectful. While security for wives is usually of utmost importance, respect is probably most important for most husbands! Ask your hubby what you do that makes him feel respected, and ask him in what other ways that he thinks you could show him more respect.
-Make time with your family a priority. Look for ways to spend time together with your kids and husband. You may have to cut out some activities that are taking away from family time.
-Wait to talk till you’re not angry. When things heat up, and you want the last word, recognize that you might say things you’ll regret in the moment, so sometimes it might be good to wait till you both cool down to properly work through it.
-Don’t let the sun go down without making things right! In line with the last point, always try to work through things, or at least start working through them, before bed. You don’t always have to agree, but you don’t want to just “brush things under the rug” either. Problems don’t just disappear and will likely resurface later unless properly dealt with.
-Call him by a fun or sweet name! Save his name/contact in your phone with a sweet name and don’t forget to use emojis! 😉
-Remember, your husband is not your dad. You are teammates and he is your God-given protector. Keep this in mind and let it shape the way you relate.
-Don’t let habits become problems. For example, if you start and then get used to always asking your husband permission to do something (different than getting his take on something or discussing something together)…more like the dad role, then he could start to expect it just because he is used to it. It might be easy to make a habit of this, especially if you don’t want to take responsibility for the possible consequences of a choices you make, and would rather have someone else make them for you so they bear the weight of the decisions if it doesn’t work out, but we are also responsible to God for our lives. It’s good for your husband to know you have a good head and can make your own decisions. (And I do believe you should be open with each other and try to be on the same page with decisions and work together as a team! Our husbands should know us best and their counsel should be valued above everyone else’s, as long as it’s consistent with the Bible!)
-Let him know you miss him and you can’t wait to see him/can’t wait till he gets home! Send texts for him to read when he can, or if you know he has specific times during the day when he can talk, give him a quick call or FaceTime him for a minute to tell him you love and miss him.
-When he leaves and comes, be the last thing he remembers and the first person he sees when he gets home…run to him (like you may have done when you were first dating). And if the kids are gone, have fun with it! Be crazy with your hubby! If your kids are there, get them excited about daddy coming home and make sure distractions are put away for a bit, so everyone greets him at the door! Stop whatever you’re doing at the time when he arrives!
-Give at least a 6 second kiss when coming and going.
-Spend the first 15 min. or so together as a couple in the evening without phones or other distractions. After the initial greeting with everyone, if your kids are young, you can turn on a movie or give them something to distract them….or if they’re a little older, send them outside to play so that you and your hubby can have a some quality time to talk.
-Don’t answer the phone during your first little bit together in the evening, and tell people to call you later if your hubby just got there. It’s good for others and your hubby to hear you say something like, “I’m sorry, I’ll have to let you go now, my hubby just got home!” It lets them know your priorities and can be encouraging to others. (The “Find My Friends” app or other tracking apps for phones can be helpful so you can see when he is almost home. You can also ask him to text or call you with an ETA when he is headed home.)
-Be confident about your body. Chances are, he is less concerned about the things you’re worried about him not liking than you are. He will be happier when you are confident about yourself. And if there are things you can change or do to be more confident about yourself, then maybe it’s worth doing, or setting a goal to eventually get there!
-Don’t let your children control the house. Keep a routine and make them go to bed early so you can have quality time together (especially if you don’t have family or close friends around to babysit regularly!)
-Figure out what he likes and do it with him! Give him your undivided attention…and if it’s hard, pray for grace to be able to give undivided attention to him. Be open with your hubby if it’s a struggle and keep striving toward your goal till you find out what works…keeping in mind that you want to continue to be the one he enjoys hanging out with and spending his chill time with! (This doesn’t mean y’all can’t ever enjoy time without each other, just that you want to work hard to enjoy some of the same things!)
-Do what you can to make your home a haven or place of rest and relaxation to come home to! Set little goals for yourself with cleaning, e.g. Monday is laundry, Tuesday dishes…tidy up bathrooms while bathing kids, etc. Turn on a cartoon or send the kids out to play for a little while before your husband arrives home/before dinner if things start to get crazy!
-Make the most of the time you’re both off work and try to keep the calendar free for family time. For example, if he is gone from 6am-6pm, then run your errands during that time &/or hang out with friends, then save most of the time after that for time together (and sometimes that might mean not inviting guests over in the evening!). Talk about it together as a couple and see what you can cut out to allow more family time.
-Show affection in the home and in public! Your kids need to see you happy and having fun together as a couple! It provides a little extra security for everyone!
-Get new lingerie (online is an easy way to buy!) as a surprise gift for birthdays, holidays, vacations or whenever!
-Ask God to give you ideas of how you can surprise your husband or do things that will mean a lot to him.
-Reflect often! (e.g. Think about fun times you’ve had together, your wedding, honeymoon, before marriage/dating season, etc.)
-Take the challenge to spend every night together during your first year of marriage…and be intentional about minimizing the nights you have to spend apart in the future!
-Make weekly date time a priority! Even if you can’t go out, you can put the kids to bed early, have a candlelit dinner and watch a marriage video on YouTube and then discuss it together or read a marriage book together or take fun personality quizzes online! Anything to learn more about each other and strengthen your marriage! We have enjoyed listening to Ted Cunningham on YouTube. If you don’t have family close by and can’t spend money on a sitter/would rather put the money towards dinner, etc., consider swapping childcare every week with friends or another couple so you both get to have regular date times!
-Book a kid-free weekend getaway once or twice a year!
-Invest in counseling sessions a few times a year or as a birthday gift or Christmas present, just to learn helpful tips, keep tabs on your marriage and be constantly striving for better!
A few helpful books:
-“The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman
-“His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard F. Harley, Jr.
-“Intended for Pleasure” by Ed Wheat, M.D.
-“Letters to My Daughters” by Barbara Rainey
-“Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend
-“The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey
Other great resources:
–Family Life Today (podcasts, books, “Weekend To Remember” getaways)
-Ted Cunningham books and fun marriage videos on YouTube
–Focus on the Family books and podcasts
-Marriage Retreat at Fort Rock Family Camp
These lists are not all encompassing, but I hope they’ve provided you with some fun ideas!
What are some of your favorite marriage books or tips you’d like to share? Comment below. 🙂