How do you live after the honeymoon? How do you learn the language of your spouse? Is it possible to keep the spark going after children? How do you handle the pressures of the changing seasons in life? What do you do to keep your marriage alive? How do you keep giving in to each other and finishing together? You’ve got to make a choice to finish strong––till death do you part.
Remember, you didn’t make a covenant with your children. You didn’t make a covenant with your career. Your covenant was made with your marriage partner. You made that covenant before God. Protect the covenant at all cost! Prioritize the covenant at all cost!
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33, NIV).
In Ephesians 5:33, Paul talks about the differences between men and women. Women speak through love, and men speak through respect. You need to learn the language of your spouse because men and women speak different languages.
Ladies, have you ever asked your husband when he came home from hanging out with the guys, “What did you guys talk about?” If your husband couldn’t answer, this is because we don’t speak the same language.
A majority of men feel as if their wives love them but don’t like them. Men would rather hear from their wives, “I respect you” over “I love you.” Men were made for honor. They would rather have your admiration than your love. Women would rather be told how much you (their husbands) love them in many different ways.
Women relate to others by talking while men relate to others by doing. We view every interaction through the filter of love while men view through the filter of respect. This is the major difference in how we communicate. Men must have respect, and women must have love in order to be healthy emotionally and to have a healthy marriage.
Learning to Speak His Language
If a wife isn’t careful, she can accidentally use her verbal abilities to back her husband into a corner. Women are more verbal than men, so it’s easy for a woman to manipulate or dominate her husband by outtalking him. She can make him feel like a winner or a loser simply with her words. She can make him feel like he can never do or say the right thing, or she can make him feel like he can conquer the world. A wife’s words have the power to speak life or death to her husband’s heart.
A wife can free her husband to be himself if she learns to speak his language. Wives often complain that their husbands should be more sensitive and more understanding. But how much effort do we put forth to learn to speak his language, understand his makeup, and recognize his needs?
The two most powerful things a wife can offer her husband are her complete respect for him and an understanding of the way his sex drive is tied to his self-esteem and self-respect. If she doesn’t offer him the respect he needs, he can’t face the pressures of a hostile world with the required confidence or success. The outcome is that neither she nor her husband reach their potential, because for where he goes, she goes.
It’s All About Respect.
Before the wedding, we had little trouble showing respect by our words and actions. We talked of his incredible abilities, talents, and our need for him; we magnified his attributes. Our life was going to be so wonderful with him. We couldn’t imagine life without him. We wanted to do nice things for him, and we gave without measuring how much he gave back. He was viewed through the eyes of potential.
So what happened after we said, “I do”? We began to look at and focus on his weaknesses (which were there all along), and instead of loving unconditionally and seeing through eyes of love, we began to magnify his weaknesses. The more intensely we focused on his shortcomings, the larger they grew, to the point of choking out our original love and admiration for him.
At that point, bitterness began to set in. Women typically expect more of the relationship in the earlier years than men do. This is due, primarily, to her focus being on relationships while his focus is on trying to “become somebody” for his family. After trying for years to get him to see it her way, the wife often gives up hope and becomes bitter. Even though she may feel she tried to invest in the relationship, she rarely understands what her husband values, and instead judges him by her standard and needs.
Interestingly enough, as men age, they often become more relationship-oriented. Once they have experienced a measure of success, they realize that relationships are more important than they once expressed. Sadly, by the time he mellows with age and begins to do many of the things his wife wished for all along, it’s too late. She has now become critical, hard-hearted, and cold to his attempts.
Have you ever met a crabby, BITTER old woman married to a sweet little old man?
I (Drenda) made a decision I was not going to become one of those women. I’ve seen some of them in my family tree, and they are certainly not very beautiful, becoming, or virtuous. Regardless of the little old fellow’s attempts to please her, she speaks with venom and bites him if he gets too close. He’s not allowed to touch certain things, drive the car, or enter certain rooms! How horrible that a beautiful young woman could turn into a controlling, bitter, hate-filled creature.
Women have incredible memories and, if they choose to keep score, can rehearse every mistake their husbands have ever made. How hopeless we would feel if God continually reminded us of our pasts. When we hold unforgiveness or remind our mates of the past, we are chaining them to their past mistakes and failures. If you do this, do not be surprised if he doesn’t want to talk to you or spend time with you. How fast can he run life’s race or rise to success when weighed down by your words of judgment and criticism? Survival would necessitate him avoiding the perpetrator of such bondage, and mere survival is not much of a life.
The wise woman builds her house, and the foolish one tears it down with her own hands. Often, a wife’s criticism keeps her husband from ever rising above his weaknesses. If you wouldn’t respond to the Lord Jesus Christ in that way, then don’t respond in that way to your husband. If it’s not appropriate for the Lord, it’s not appropriate for your husband. Communicate respect to your husband.
Respect communicates to a man more than any words.
Have respect for his position as the head of your marriage. Respect his differences and individuality. Honor him with admiration and praise. Respect his sexual drive and needs.
A few specific ways wives can respect their husbands:
1. Raise him with praise. Praise his efforts, and build him up to others. Leave encouraging notes praising him.
2. Admire him: His strength, physique, skills, works, personality, character, any and every good quality. Magnify his good points.
3. Stop everything you’re doing when he arrives or calls.
4. Release and give his faults to God. Accept that you make mistakes too. Give him seventy times seven opportunities when he needs forgiveness. You will need it too, so be forgiving.
5. Be thankful, and tell him how much you appreciate him. Tell him how blessed you are to have a husband like him.
6. Pray for him always. Pray alongside him. Be active!
7. Desire him sexually, and let him know it.
8. Put him first before others, including parents and children.
9. Work alongside him.
10. Be his best friend. Take up some of his interests and hobbies.
11. Listen better for his needs, wants, and desires.
12. Show complete acceptance of him just like he is, and he won’t want to disappoint you.
13. Build his confidence. He can’t do anything without it.
14. Be patient with him if he isn’t talking. Your criticism will push him away. Be sensitive when he needs to be alone or isn’t ready to talk.
15. Let the children know he is to be respected and held in high regard by your actions. If you don’t respect your head or authority, one day your children will follow your example and neither respect you nor their spouses when they marry.
Learning to Speak Her Language – “Attention”
God created a woman to be special by design to “complete” her husband. A woman is to come under her husband’s protection and receive from his care and love for her. As he does this, she is a responder and will more than return the love she has received to her husband. Breakdowns in communication styles and failure to understand her needs cause some women to stop seeing their husbands as the centers of their lives. A woman often begins to give this place of prominence to her children, career, church activities, or another man. She can break off the relationship in her heart and yet remain married to her husband.
Surprisingly, most men are shocked when their wives leave them and say they had no idea they were unhappy! A man assumes she’s happy because she pours herself into the family or a career, and since his needs are so different from hers, he can be totally unaware and insensitive to her struggle. Ironically, the wife will say she tried over and over to communicate her needs and her hurts.
As a man, you are called by God to lay your life down for your wife the way Christ did for the church. Put her first. Lay aside your pride. Instead of seeing her as a competitor that you have to beat at the game, humble yourself and be willing to accept responsibility. Turn that responsibility over to the Lord in prayer, and ask Him for the answers.
The ultimate test: How would Jesus handle the same situation? We represent Jesus to our wives and families. We will give an account to Him for the way we treat our husband or wife. Ask yourself: Is she my priority? Do I do what is best even if it means saying no to something that would harm her?
A wife draws a paycheck––her value and joy from the way she’s treated by her husband. This is the way the church looks to and draws from the Lord Jesus Christ. She is emotion (feeling) based, so she is better in the area of communication, but a husband can learn from her! A man must learn from his wife if he desires to enjoy a successful relationship with her.
Here are a few communication helps for men to use for your wives:
1. Make time to communicate with your wife. Listen when she wants to talk. Women need to talk to express themselves. It doesn’t mean you have to fix the situation for her. She just needs you to serve as a sounding board and offer reassurance. Conversation doesn’t have to accomplish anything for it to be worthwhile to her. Women build relationships by talking.
2. Look for opportunities to say, “I love you,” and say it everyday. Use birthdays, special events, surprise dates, cards, and flowers to communicate this. Studies show that women need at least 15 affirming touches, words, or signs of your love each day.
3. Give her your undivided attention. Put your phone down or turn off the tv when she wants to talk. Listen with your complete attention as if she is the most important thing in your life, because she is. Look her in the eyes and hold her hand when you talk to her. Let your eyes show how you admire her.
4. Never bring up past mistakes or make her feel incompetent.
5. Ask for her advice in every situation. Do not make major decisions without her input and consideration.
6. Take time to notice her––her clothing, hair, and outfit. Accentuate the positives. Take time to compliment her. Praise her often.
7. Show appreciation for her contribution (taking care of the children, advice, and work). Be appreciative, and say thank you!
8. Learn to say, “I am sorry.” Pride is ugly and will destroy a relationship. Do not permit arguments. As the head of the relationship, be the one to admit wrongdoing first. Both spouses usually bear some of the responsibility, so be the man and say, “I’m sorry,” even when you may be a little unsure what you did to upset her. The fact is she’s upset. Take responsibility.
9. Reassure her when she is discouraged. Do all you can to take stress off her. Ask her to make a list of things she would like done around the home.
10. Initiate things she likes to do. Make sure you know what she likes. Put her needs first.
11. Lead spiritually. Pray with her. Pray with your children.
God wants you to have a happy marriage, as He created marriage to be a blessing! When you learn to speak the language of your spouse, you can have an incredible marriage and step into the destiny that God has called you two to! Remember, as you prioritize your relationship with your marriage partner, you are sowing seeds into the relationship that God will bless with a great harvest!
God wants you to have a happy marriage! For more on this topic, read Unlocking the Mystery of Communication with Your Spouse HERE.