Hot Love: How to Love Your Wife Like You Mean It
Alrighty, so recently Jill wrote a post on here about how wives can love their husbands, and it was apparently a really big hit. She also told me that she received a lot of feedback that the ladies would like me to write a post to husbands about how we can better love our wives. Marriage relationships are the most important relationships between humans, and I don’t think it should be a surprise that in such a sacred relationship, the work should be a two-way street. After all, one of the books Jill referred to, gifted to us by a good friend and co-worker when I was at Walmart, is called, “His Needs, Her Needs,” by Willard Harley (emphasis added). With that being said, and without further ado, here it is….
Five years ago this summer, I married the woman of my dreams, Jill Michelle Duggar. Some of you may have watched our love story unfold on TV, and if you want to read about it, you can click here. Anyway, 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 that really irked me when we were just getting to know each other, and then as newlyweds too, was people saying stuff like, “Oh you just wait”…or…”You’re just in that newlywed phase,” in response to our love for each other. Although I do realize that sometimes things may change slightly due to life changes (e.g. kids, work schedules, Chuck E. Cheese nights with the guys, etc.), one thing I think we need to recognize is that the flame in your marriage doesn’t have to die out! But, like a fire sometimes, if you’re not intentional and don’t work hard to keep your relationship hot, it can fade. And nobody on their wedding day says, “oh, I hope we’ll have a really great time for awhile and then call it quits.” No! …it’s always supposed to be “happily ever after for everyone, right?!” I don’t claim to know everything about marriage, or to be presenting some advice to solve all your problems, but I am grateful for examples and advice from others I respect, including my own parents and grandparents. My parents were married for 30 years, and my grandparents were married for 62 years. I’m obviously not a professional relationship counselor, but I hope us husbands can find some encouragement from these tips:
Desire + intentionality = Hot love
I have no idea where this equation came from, but I was going with the fire analogy (hot) above, I assume most everyone at least wants a good marriage (desire), I like math, and it’s late. So, there ya go. Now for the intentionality part. Love isn’t always just about having ooey gooey, warm fuzzy feelings. “Ooey gooey” isn’t bad, but it’s kinda childish if that’s all you rely on. There’s a reason why my 4-year-old son names every stuffed animal he has “Gooey.” …it’s cute, but would be weird, not to mention a barrier in his life, if he has the same-track mind in 20 years. Relationships are the same way—often times, divorce happens because of childish thoughts and selfish attitudes in relationships. We shouldn’t treat love the same way as two 8-year-olds on the playground or junior high “summer love.” People either think it’s all about them, or that they need to feel some kind of “feeling.” The truth is, love is a choice. It’s not bad to want the “warm fuzzies,” but we should think of that as just icing on the cake. We’re going to need a lot more than that for a healthy, successful, and truly joyful marriage for both parties. Love often initially begins with physical attraction or likable personalities, but day-to-day love must also be a choice that we continually make.
Here’s a list of ways we can be intentional to love our wives like we mean it (not necessarily in order of importance):
-Have lots of good sex! You both need this time together regularly (5-6 times (or more) a week is a good start). Guys, you need to keep yourself “joyfully available” for your wife, because only you can fulfill certain desires she might have. 1 Corinthians 7:4 teaches that the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. We tend to focus on the first part of this verse, but often neglect the second half. 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 always 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 vigilant. Regardless of who does what in a relationship, it is ultimately the man’s responsibility to protect his marriage and family. Nobody is exempt from a tendency for failure. Setting our marriages, families, and spiritual lives on “autopilot” or being complacent will always eventually lead to failure. We must always be careful to give special attention to constantly evaluate and adjust our lives according to the Bible, the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, and the wise counsel of others.
-Be humble. Along the same lines as the last point, pride (or complacency too!) comes before a fall. If you think failure, bad family life, or even divorce could never happen to you, then WATCH OUT! None of us are perfect, and if we ever think we’re too good for something bad to ever happen, then we’re deceiving ourselves.
-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)
-Pray and fast for your wife. Ask her how you can pray for her and let her know when you do.
–Look for ways to encourage your wife, serve her and meet her 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 she is talking, be quiet and listen, don’t interrupt and draw conclusions or offer advice right away. As guys, sometimes we just want to “fix” things and move on, but sometimes ladies just want someone to listen to what they’re saying without having to immediately fix it.
-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, including joking about divorce! 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. In the wise words of Thumper (a rabbit) “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say anything at all!”
-Never allow your wife to think you’re her father! Whether it’s making demands, expecting her to keep the house spotless, or telling her to get off her phone…if she says “I feel like you’re my father when you…”, then pay attention to that and ask her 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 she does because, “Well, that’s just something a good wife is supposed to do.” Always be grateful and look for ways to praise her directly and in front of others!
-Be open about money and spending habits with your wife! It’s vital that you are on the same page about your finances! Security (physical, emotional, financial, etc.) is very important to most wives. 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!
–Lead your family spiritually. As men, we are ultimately the ones God will hold accountable for the spiritual well-being of our family. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s our fault if a child grows up and isn’t a Christian or doesn’t live for the Lord. However, it is our job as husbands and fathers to spiritually lead our wives and children. Christian women appreciate it when their husbands step up to the plate in this way and maintain sensitivity to their family’s spiritual barometer. God calls husbands to spiritually lead and cast vision for their family. This is not meant to be legalistic, but can manifest within the family in various ways (e.g. family Bible time, praying with our wives and children, asking what they are struggling with in order to support them, setting the tone on discipline in the home, etc.)
-Make time with your family a priority. Look for ways to spend time together with your kids and wife. 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 her by a fun or sweet name! Save her name/contact in your phone with a sweet name (e.g. sugar plum, honey boo, baby doll, sweet butter cup, schnookums, etc.)
-Remember, your wife is not your mom. You are teammates and she is your God-given woman. Keep this in mind and let it shape the way you relate.
-Let her know you miss her and you can’t wait to see her/can’t wait till she gets home! Send texts for her to read when she can, or if you know she has specific times during the day when she can talk, give her a quick call or FaceTime her for a minute to tell her you love and miss her.
-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!
-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! It may not always be this way, but so far, Jill and I have managed to spend every single night together since we’ve been married. Again, we’ve only been married a little over 5 years, but so far as it’s possible, we hope to continue the trend.
-Regularly discuss ways you can help each other feel more secure in your relationship and then do it! For example, it is really important to both of us that we have some kind of internet filtering service on our phones and laptops, so we decided to pay for a monthly Covenant Eyes filtering subscription and also limit some accessibility on our devices to help us be accountable to each other. We also share our social media passwords with each other. Another thing we purpose to do is to never be alone in the same room with someone of the opposite gender. Sometimes this is hard and requires more intentionality. For example, if I have a private meeting with a female, I may choose to leave the door open, or if Jill needs a repairman to come work on something at the house when I’m gone then she might invite a friend over while he’s there. We realize though that safeguards alone aren’t enough…it is more about the heart and commitment to purity, but they may be helpful in reducing the prevalence of some situations, or even just the appearance of evil.
-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! Forsaking quality time together is dangerous, and it’s a quick way to drift apart in your marriage and to get out-of-touch with your spouse.
-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 to grow!
This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but I hope it provides us at least some idea of how to be more intentional in loving our wives!
For more resources we’ve found to be helpful, check out the list Jill posted at the end of her blog post for wives.
So, I hope you’ll be encouraged and even check out some of the things I mentioned and then comment below! Please feel free to mention anything you think should be added to this list or if you have any comments regarding the points in general, including any stories you might have about what has or hasn’t worked in your own relationship.
What are some of your favorite marriage books or tips you’d like to share? Comment below.
Photo Credit: Jamie Street (@jamie452)