Not that I'm a perfect wife, because I'm not...believe me, but I would like to think that I am a wife who tries really hard to make my husband happy. Do I sometimes feel selfish and want to say, "Deal with it yourself!"? Of course I do. But then I realize that I would be horrified if he ever said that to me. And very upset.
I teach a marriage class to wives on a pretty regular basis. Over the past seven years of teaching this class, I am always amazed at who attends. The first year, I fully expected it to be filled with young, newly married women who were eager to learn how to be a godly, pleasing wife for their hubbies. But what I found then and still find today is that most of the women who come have been married many years and their marriage is struggling or it just doesn't have that same zest as it did way back when. Many women have been divorced, some more than once, and are just trying to figure out what they can work on to make the next one better, which I totally respect! And yes, maybe occasionally I will get the doe-eyed newlywed and I'm thrilled that she has the chance to start her marriage off with some crucial tools that can hopefully help her avoid the pain of divorce in the future.
My class covers seven fundamental things that men typically need from their wives, but also what they need out of life, their work, friendships, and other people. I would say hands-down the two, no three, greatest lessons that make the biggest impact are those on respect, intimacy, and adapting. Making small changes to the way a wife shows respect to her husband, how she understands and addresses his need for intimacy, and the willingness to adapt to him AS HE IS, not some fantasy version we would prefer, completely knocks his socks off. I have literally had husbands come up and thank me -- no, I'm serious. Why? Because their wives took to heart the lessons they learned in class and put them into practice. Now he's happy and she's happy that he's happy, and he steps up to make her happy, so she's happy and he's happy that she's happy. Everyone is happy. It's a win-win, for sure.
I think sometimes we truly believe we are serving him and meeting his needs, when, in fact, his greatest needs aren't being touched at all! How can this be? Ladies, his three greatest needs are respect, intimacy according to his sexual cycle/need, and your willingness to adjust your life for the sake of peace and unity in the home. If these three aren't taking place, then chances are your husband is not FEELING your love, even though you cook for him, do his laundry, and pick up his dry-cleaning. This is similar to if he told you "I love you," but never talked to you, touched you, or spent time with you. You wouldn't be convinced, would you? You wouldn't FEEL loved. And so it is with him. Wouldn't it be nice to know what his fundamental needs are and how to meet them? How to truly love him in the way he receives it?
You see, I'm convinced that women are under a tremendous amount of stress these days, and loving our husbands in the way they need/want to be loved can be challenging and even exasperating. Women are busier than ever and it's almost easier to have the attitude for them to "just suck it up," or think to ourselves, "they'll be fine." And maybe they are fine, for now. Some wives may even test the limits, assuming he will always be there, so she can act the way she wants. She doesn't feel like she's withholding her love, and she may not be to others. But his perception is the measuring stick, not hers. The danger is that if too much time passes or we focus our love primarily on the kids, the dog, our jobs, friends, etc., then truly he could (gulp!) leave. Or worse...stray. I've seen it and heard about it too many times to be joking.
Our new-found strength and independence as women has many of us being encouraged to "just leave him." "You'll be better off on your own." This doesn't help matters at all. Yes, ok, so we may now be able to support ourselves financially, but most women I have talked to really struggle with the single-mom life. (Ok, some are elated, never felt better, but there is still pain and loss, disunity and difficulty.) The grass isn't always greener. And if you loved him and were really happy to marry him at one point, why not do what you can to restore things? Many times, it only takes ONE person to initiate change, and it can start with YOU.
I will be starting a new 4-week session of the How to Be a Great Wife class in the Roseville area beginning September 26 - October 24. Details can be found at the link below. If you can join me, that would be great, but if you can't, check out some of the Principles to Live By books and resources for both husbands and wives at our website, PTLB.com. We are supporters and encouragers of strong marriages.
May God bless you and your marriage, and may He make the plans you have to be a godly wife fruitful as you submit them to Him.
Jennifer Edwards, M.A.
P.S. To register for the new godly wife class, click HERE.
P.S.S. Check out previous Life Is Relationships issues. Click hereto visit our blog.
God's Radical Plan for Wives Resources
Wives, you can learn more about your husband's need for you to listen and how to meet that need in God's Radical Plan for Wives by Gil and Dana Stieglitz with Jennifer Edwards.
This book has many tools and exercises to work through that can give wives a new perspective about their spouse and may even help save their marriage. It is perfect for individual or group study, especially when paired with God's Radical Plan for Wives Companion Bible Study. The lessons and exercises in these two books will teach you how to motivate your husband to be the best man possible, setting the stage to gently guide and instruct him to meet your own needs. In a time when women are desperate to save their marriage, these two books have the practical answers you need.