By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
1. Remember he's a man.
This should go without saying. Yet, I’m amazed at how many women expect their husbands to be just like their girlfriends and talk about everything, listen intently, and “go deep” with their feelings. Men are not wired for “chick chat” and the biggest mistake wives make is interpreting this to mean their husbands don’t care. Well, they don’t. But that doesn’t mean they don’t care about you.
2. Realize his need for respect.
Countless studies have affirmed that a man would rather feel respected than loved. While women long to be cherished, loved, and pursued, there’s a sense in which a man can live without love. It’s respect he can’t live without.
It’s interesting to note that in the Bible, husbands are commanded to love their wives. And wives are commanded to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33). Have you ever thought about why a woman isn’t commanded to love her husband in return? We are commanded throughout the Bible to love one another, and that includes our husbands. But when it comes to this passage, which speaks specifically about the marriage relationship, God apparently knew a woman desires more than anything else to be loved and a man desires more than anything else to be respected. God must have known that as we respect our husbands, we are demonstrating love to them in a way they can more easily see and appreciate.
3. Recognize his need to succeed.
Your husband is wired to be competitive, and therefore winning, succeeding and advancing are extremely important to him. If your husband feels he is in a no-win situation or is failing at something, it will show in his attitude of feeling stuck or wanting to give up. If your husband isn’t succeeding at something, he at least needs to feel like he’s winning. Let him know he is succeeding in the areas that are most important to him and to you. And if what is important to you isn’t necessarily important to him, let him know every now and then how well he is doing in that area, and it just may become an important area to him after all.
4. Allow him time in his "blank box."
Sometimes it’s difficult for us to understand how our husbands can sit on the couch with the TV on, not particularly watching it, and not hear a word we say, nor be capable of responding. I call that my husband’s “veg box.” Some wives call it their husbands’ “blank box.” And when you ask him “What’s on your mind?” or “What are you thinking?” and he stares off into space and says “nothing”—it really is true; he’s in a “no words, no feelings” box.
5. Ask him about his dreams.
Proverbs 20:5 says “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” You can better understand your husband when you can draw out of him his dreams and desires. When your husband has unmet dreams, it might affect how he is processing life or whether or not he is enjoying it. Whereas you and I might conclude he has a bad attitude, he may be dealing with feelings of missing out because he isn’t living from his heart.
Ask your husband what he’d love to do if time or money were no object. Give him permission to dream and don’t discount his ideas if they don’t sound practical or realistic. You can understand what makes him tick, what he secretly longs for, and even how you can share in making some of his dreams come true when you take the time to ask, learn and discover the dreams on your husband’s heart.
6. Treat him like a king, but not your God.
7. Acknowledge his singular focus.
Unlike women who appear to multi-task, men function better with a singular focus and they have a way of compartmentalizing their thoughts and actions. Like his ancient ancestors, your husband is, by nature, a hunter-gatherer, so it’s easy for him to zero in on—and stay focused on—a single topic (Picture a cat sitting by a window watching a bird – he doesn’t move, but is totally fixated).
As you are sensitive to this single-focus characteristic of his, it may help you understand his response—or lack of response—to you when you go from topic to topic in your conversation or are tending to “merge” the areas of your life when he prefers to keep them separate. For example, talking about finances just prior to intimacy will confuse him. If he’s in “finance mode,” he will not know how to transition well to “romance mode.” Likewise, if you are talking about the kids’ schooling problems or your aging parents’ needs while he’s trying to set up the tent on a camping trip, he will likely not respond to your words, let alone hear them.
8. Allow him sexual pleasure with his wife.
Men are designed, physically and physiologically, to enjoy sexual pleasure with their wives. Your husband wants to enjoy that activity and experience with YOU. And you are the only one he can enjoy that with and still be right and pure before his God. And he knows that, even more than you do.
In Ecclesiastes 9:9, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said this: “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given to you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.”
King Solomon wrote a whole book on the meaninglessness of life. And among the few things he found meaningful for a man to enjoy were a good meal and pleasure with his wife. Now think about that! When you prepare a meal for your husband, isn’t it your desire that he enjoy it? Similarly, will you prepare yourself for him, physically, as his reward after dinner? God paid you quite a compliment when He gave you to your husband as your husband’s reward. God considered you a great prize to bring pleasure—in many ways—to your husband. That should make you and I want to be our husband’s reward, not his consolation prize.
9. Accept his love for good food.
Do you ever find yourself wondering why your husband constantly thinks about food? Or how it is he can down a whole steak in minutes when all you feel like eating is a salad? Your husband, if he’s like most men, loves to eat. He’ll prefer a meaty meal to your low-calorie morsel every time! And get this-enjoying food is biblical! In Ecclesiastes 2:24, the wise King Solomon says, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.”
For a man to be able to sit down and enjoy dinner—or a hearty, messy barbecue lunch—is one of the ways God rewards him for his work here on earth. So let him eat. And don’t knock him when he does. It’s one of the simple pleasures in life he was designed to enjoy.
10. Be patient as his priorities shift with age.
Your husband typically values different things at different seasons of life. In his 20s and 30s, he may prioritize making money and advancing his career because he is in his prime “provider/achiever” mode. When he approaches his 40s and 50s, he may be more concerned about making his life count and not “wasting time” doing something that doesn’t matter in the long run. When he reaches his 60s, he may value slowing down to enjoy life or attempt ambitions or “bucket list” items now that he has more time.
Keep in mind, though, that even when his priorities shift with age, he’s still the same man you fell in love with and married. His priorities just change through the years, as do yours.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning author of 16 books who has been married 30 years to her husband, Hugh, a pastor and introvert. Together, they co-authored the book, When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection. Cindi’s newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, will help you experience more joy, passion, and communication in your marriage, no matter what your husband’s personality. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see Cindi’s website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.