A man’s heart is a precious and private thing. A man is less likely than a woman to bare his soul or communicate every thought. His heart is often locked up and protected.
As his wife, you hold the key to your husband’s heart. You are the one person who knows his deepest needs, the quiet things of his soul, his search and struggle for significance, his strengths, and the weaknesses he can hide from others but not from you.
Make no mistake: You have significant influence in his life. A great deal of a man’s personal success and right choices can be traced back to the woman who whispers affirmation and encouragement in his ear at night. Here are ways you can love your husband:
Honor him and his world. Most men would admit that deep inside still lives a boy and his dreams. Wives, close your eyes for a moment and envision your husband as an energetic, bright-eyed ten-year-old shooting baskets—totally in love with life! His future at that point was all promise. He had great dreams and plans, perhaps to be a basketball star, a global adventurer, or president of the United States. Now think about your husband as he is today. Has he quit dreaming? If so, when did it happen, and why? Men need their wives to dream with them, to envision the possibilities, and to walk courageously into change. A man longs for the freedom to fully be who he is, assured that his wife will stand beside him through it all.
Avoid sabotage. You would never intentionally harm your husband, but you can inadvertently sabotage him without realizing it. How? By misusing power. Do you have any idea how influential you are in your husband’s life? It’s your voice that whispers into his ear at night. Your beliefs, behaviors, and decisions have as great an impact on him as most other forces. He listens to you and trusts your advice and counsel—whether it seems like it or not. This incredible influence carries with it great responsibility.
Love him unconditionally. Every one of us longs to be loved with no strings attached. Do you love your husband for who he is—right now, with all his imperfections? Or do you watch his every move with a critical eye? You can measure your love for your husband by comparing it to the standard described in 1 Corinthians 13. Are you patient and kind, or are rude and demanding of your own way? Do you keep records of your husband’s wrongs? Do you continue bringing up what was dealt with long ago? If you do not love your husband for all he is, you are leaving him vulnerable and your marriage unguarded.
Understand your differences. Yes, men and women are different. One of the most reckless things a woman can do is insist that her husband want what she wants, feel as she feels, behave as she behaves, think as she thinks. Likewise, I don’t know a woman who would want her husband to insist that she want, feel, behave, and think the way he does. Respect the gender differences by encouraging him to be all the man God created him to be!
Honor his friendships. Can you remember some of the guys your husband hung around with when you first met? Is he still in touch with them? Does he have a group of male friends? Your husband needs like-minded Christian men to reinforce his character qualities. He needs to be around guys who want to follow Jesus Christ regardless of the cost. Give him space to connect with other men who will sharpen him as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).
Be his complement, his “helpmate.” Your very uniqueness can offer your husband qualities that fully complete him as no one else can! You can complete your husband and guard his heart by working with him, not against him. How? If your husband is struggling in an area, pray for him. Talk to him if he is open to that. Listen to what he is saying and not saying. And then let God work in his heart.
Commit yourself to him and to God. A wife may feel that she made a commitment once and for all to her husband on her wedding day. And in a way, she did. But recommitment needs to happen each day. Similarly, your lifetime commitment to God should be renewed daily as you seek to follow Christ moment by moment. Without a doubt, the most lasting gift you can give your husband is your rock-solid faith in Jesus Christ. Live your life with God as your first love. When you experience God’s unconditional love, he fills you to overflowing. And your husband benefits from the overflow of your dependence on Christ.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!