A Great Marriage…Step by Step


Let’s get practical—the big question is: what can I do today to help us on our way to experiencing a great marriage? Men and women are so different. In general, a man wants respect from his wife and a woman wants to be loved by her husband. So what are some practical things you can begin doing in your marriage right now to make a big impact?

For wives: Here are some simple acts of serving love that can help you show your husband that you honor and respect him, which will communicate that you really appreciate him.

  • Make time alone with him a priority. If your husband’s job and other activities keep him busy, it’s easy for other things to become more important than husband-and-wife time. Learn to sneak in time with him as you can in order to love, honor and cherish your husband above all else.
  • Honor his favorite things. Make a list of his favorites, such as a favorite dinner, dessert, date activity, TV program, etc.—and make sure he gets to enjoy those things occasionally.
  • Celebrate his birthday. Make his birthday a big deal even if he says he doesn’t want you to.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • Tell him what you need. He can’t read your mind—at least not always!
  • Lift a burden. Ask him, “If I could take something off your to-do list today, what could I do for you?”
  • Allow him to be himself. Don’t assume that your husband is going to think, feel, or behave as you do or as “the ideal husband” does. He will make mistakes. Allow him that freedom.
  • Affirm your husband’s maleness by showing interest in his hobbies. Attend a sporting event or watching a ball game with him occasionally. Be there to cheer him on.
  • Be more curious of your husband than critical. What interesting things does he do? Don’t judge him. Investigate and ask questions about why he does the things he does.
  • Appreciate his hard work. Thank him for working hard for you and your family. Let him know that you notice and admire his work.
  • Praise him to your children. Tell the kids how hard he works and what a good man he is. Tell them how much you love him and how important he is to you.
  • Compliment his efforts to be sensitive. If he makes special attempts to understand, listen, or comfort you, let him know how meaningful they are to you. Be specific about what you particularly like.

For husbands: Here are some simple acts of serving love that can help you show your wife that you honor and love her, which will communicate that you really appreciate her.

  • Ask her how you can help her, or dive in and help without being asked. It sounds like this: “Where do you need more of my help?” In a word: initiate!
  • When you disagree, immediately acknowledge her position. You don’t have to understand or agree. Just acknowledge that she has the right to her thoughts and feelings. It may sound like this: “I respect the fact that you feel strongly about this issue, and I always want to listen to your feedback. I need you to listen to my perspective as well.”
  • Never humiliate her. If she does something embarrassing in front of others, don’t make it worse. Regardless of the details or even if she’s at fault, don’t do it.
  • Share with others how important she is to you. Keep pictures of her in your wallet and on your desk. Talk about her to your friends and those you work with. Let her overhear you bragging about her—it does wonders for the relationship!
  • Support her in front of the children. Whether or not you agree with a decision she makes, back her up, then discuss your differences later in private. Tell the kids how much you love their mom and how much you appreciate all her gifts.
  • Never remind her of her mistakes, especially in front of others. Learn to forgive and work through concerns privately with her. This builds confidence in the marriage.
  • Remember special dates! Obviously, her birthday and your anniversary are key. But you should also commemorate dates such as the anniversary of the death of a parent or another loved one. Send her a note and comfort her on those days.
  • Never compare her to other women. This includes your mother, previous girlfriends, or anyone you know. Don’t even compare her to other women in a positive way.
  • Eat together. Don’t start eating the meal until she sits down, and don’t leave the table until she’s finished. And don’t leave her to eat in front of the TV!
  • Talk over decisions with her before they are made. This includes even the minor ones!
  • Set family goals so your wife doesn’t feel as if she is bearing the whole load. Be specific about what each family member must do to get the work done.
  • Share with her what you’re reading. Tell her about the key points you’re getting out of a book. Spark discussion with her on current events.
  • Ask her about her childhood. Work to understand her heritage and why she is the way she is (just steer clear of all mother-in-law jokes!)
  • Compliment her cooking. Make special requests!

Here’s the drill. Choose at least three of the items we listed for you and begin putting them into action this month. Wives, this will show your husband how much you love and respect him. And begin showing him respect even if you feel he hasn’t earned it. Husbands, this will show your wife how much you love her. You’ll both be pleasantly surprised to see your spouse encouraged and marriage refreshed just by taking a few simple steps.