I don’t want to give off the impression that I’m a most excellent husband. I’m not. My wife has to put up with me every day, and frankly, I don’t know how she does it. I’m hard to love, I don’t make it easy. Sorry my love.
This doesn’t mean that I have nothing to offer in suggesting to other men how they might be able to better love their wives. There’s much I’ve learned through failure. The only thing that has the power to get me through another day of failure is the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus has succeeded in every area that I have failed—in perfect love, in sacrificially dying for his bride, in meekness and humility, in living the life I never could have lived and dying the death I never could have died—I am free to love my wife and live in a way that is more glorifying to God.
What follows are ten ways a husband can show some love to his wife. Simply providing for your family is only one way, and is not every way that you are called to serve, love, and die for your spouse.
“When Christ calls a man,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said of discipleship, he “bids him to die.” This is true for any healthy marriage too. It takes a lot of work, but God will supply all the grace you need to continue to forgive, and love one another as Christ first loved us.
Think of these as general suggestions; not commandments. Also, this primarily applies to those who have a dynamic like we have right now. We have decided for my wife to be a stay-at-home mother so she can be with our young children, and I am bi-vocational for our income. I realize that this is not the case for everybody, and so I offer this advice mainly for those who share these similar life circumstances.
There are a lot of things that can be adapted to your life circumstance, and that will take wisdom on your part to figure that out. Again, these are suggestions; not hard and fast rules.
1. Kiss her and give her a hug before you leave for work, erryday.
This is a great habit to have to start your day. Even a short kiss can remind both of you that out of all other human relationships in this world—she is your #1.
2. Help her with the kids in the morning.
Another way to show your wife that you’re thinking of her is to help her out with your children in the mornings. Watch them when they wake up at the crack of dawn so she can hit the snooze button for a few minutes longer than you. Take the kids for a walk, fix them some breakfast, or change them into new clothes for the day. If you don't have kids, make her breakfast. If you do have kids, don't forget the coffee!
3. Text her during the day.
Now, don’t get in trouble with your boss over this one. Every employee gets several minutes a day for a break. Use a few minutes each day to text your wife. There was a time when you two probably couldn’t stop texting, emailing, or talking into the late hours of the night. Rekindle that young love with her by sending her some digital lovin. You could even tag her in a Facebook photo so she feels really special. Just a thought ;).
4. When you get home from work, be present.
Forget about work for a few hours. Turn off the cell phone (or put it on silent). Leave the laptop alone. Be with your family. They need to know you are there, there. Spend those short, precious moments with them.
5. Watch the kids so she can make dinner without distraction.
Play with your children while your wife cooks. Or, you cook and have your wife have some quality time with the kids without having to worry about the family meal.
Before we had kids, and when both of us were working, we would trade off with dinner sometimes (or eat dinner out more often). Still though, she tended to make dinner more often (she's Italian after all and is the better cook). If that's the case in your situation, help her with whatever she needs to prep dinner. Serve one another.
6. Catechize your children.
The way to your wife’s heart is through your children. They’re only young for a little while. Spend a few key moments in the Word and in prayer with them each day. It doesn’t need to be very long, but some time is better than not at all. The most important thing is to show them that your faith matters in the everyday. They probably won’t remember every catechism question you memorize with them when they’re older—but they will remember that time with you on your knees in prayer before the living God. They will remember hearing the voice of God through the Scriptures at home.
7. Do the dishes.
By the way, if you do the dishes, never, and I repeat never, tell her that you did this. If she made dinner, you can do the dishes. She doesn’t need you gloating just because you took ten minutes out of your day to do one of her many daily tasks. She’ll thank you from her heart if you’re patient enough and do this out of love, not for praise.
8. Bathe the kids.
Your wife probably has plenty of house chores to do if she’s a stay-at-home mom. If I were a stay-at-home dad, that would have been my responsibility as well. So doing this can give her a chance to catch-up with some of those to-do list items on her mind. And if she doesn’t have anything left to do, it’s nice to give mom a break! Stay-at-home parents don't have California state law giving them two 10 minute breaks and a 30 minute to an hour lunch. She needs a break, so give her one. Let her rest while you take care of the kids.
Bonus #8 for those without kids: pray with her or read the Bible together. Talk about your future plans together. Some conversation starters off the top of my head are:
- "Do you want to have children, and how many?"
- "Biological or via adoption?"
- "When should we have kids?"
- "Do you want to buy a house?"
- "Where do you want to live in 5, 10, 15, 30 years?"
- "Do you like your career path?"
- "Where should we travel?
9. Date her at night.
Go date your wife. Your wife is worth it. Your marriage needs it. Go and have a good time—be young again, or don’t and be old together. Whatever, whichever, however, whenever. Just get out of the house once a month (or every 2-3 months if finances are tight).
You don’t always have to go places to have a date night either. Popcorn and a movie, a board game, a homemade candlelit dinner, or a casual walk around your neighborhood are a few ways to date one another on the cheap. Just try it, you’ll both love it.
10. Kiss her goodnight before bed.
A simple kiss before bed will go a long way to restore, or advance your relationship. If you had an argument during the course of the day, this is probably the best way to prevent the two of you from ever going to bed angry. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
I don’t always do these ten things every day, but on the days that I do our marriage is always the stronger for it. The apostle Paul has some grand words for husbands to hear. Even if you’ve read this passage a thousand times, listen to this again:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:25-32)
The motivation for demonstrating such unending, unconditional love for our wives does not come from anything within us. It can only come from him who was and is from without us. Jesus Christ has demonstrated his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, he died for us (Romans 5:8). His sacrificial death and record-keeping life all for us is the reason we can sacrificially love another person in the everyday.