1. Spend time with her. Every man understands the concept of making investments. If you want to lower your handicap or grow the best lawn or destroy the competition at work—it takes time and investment! As husbands we have to get this in our hearts: we will not have a healthy marriage by simply running errands together, by sleeping in the same bed, by eating at the same table or by being diligent about keeping our calendars in sync. We have to reject the notion that we will accidentally “fall” into a great marriage. If you are playing golf a couple of times a week do not insult your wife’s intelligence by then saying to her “we don’t have the time or the money to go on a date.” She isn’t stupid and most likely doesn’t enjoy being patronized. What you have communicated to her is golf has your heart.
2. Study her. We have to go back to being students of our wives! When you were dating her…..you studied her! Oh how quickly we forget the details like her eye color, her favorite place to shop, her favorite song/band, her favorite food. My guess is you were keenly aware of these things when you were dating because you were hoping she would one day give you the privilege of marrying her. Putting a ring on her finger is not a magical trump card overriding the things that feed relational intimacy. She may have a ring but she still wants/needs you to know her well.
3. Honor her. The idea here is to value who she is, what she does, and to reward her often. When I say “reward” I am afraid most men automatically start thinking about what they can buy their spouse. You may need to buy her a gift but something I have observed you can reward her with your words……not just privately but publicly. Brag on your wife to others…..that will honor her. I know different people have different love languages and your spouse may not rank high when it comes to needing words of affirmation. However, I have never met a human being that felt like they had been over encouraged. When you speak highly of your spouse in the presence of other people you are honoring her for being a godly wife, a nurturing mother, a dynamic thinker, a creative genius and or a trustworthy friend.
4. Protect her. My guess is most men feel as though this base is covered. When I suggest you protect her your mind may have immediately gone to your shotgun, the time you beat another man up for speaking derogatorily about your wife or the fact that you know karate and no one would stand a chance against your ninja like skill. These types of protection are all good but I think the scripture would lead us to a deeper level of protection. Men, we have the responsibility of protecting their hearts. I think along the way we have forgotten that this is a huge part of what we have been commissioned to do in the marital relationship. The way we speak to our wives matters so we have to be careful o avoid talking down to them. The way we respond in conflict needs to be gracious rather than harsh. The way we celebrate things that matter to her needs to be genuine and not contrived.
5. Open up to her. We have to stop assuming our wives know what is happening in our hearts. I know there is a temptation, and maybe even a cultural expectation, that men should not open up about emotional things. The problem with that, specifically in the context of marriage, is 2 have become one……when we forget that we are in this “together” we are robbing our wives to actually KNOW us. There are a lot of books out there that define the emotional differences between men and women. These books are oftentimes true in content but I believe miss the mark in overall expectation. Men, let’s be honest, there are things that scare us. There are circumstances that frustrate us. There are situations that embarrass us. There are unanswered questions we have that hover over us. Our spouses will be more effective helpmates as they become more informed soul mates. We have to share our hearts.
Finally, these commands are always connected to a greater truth: we love our wives in these ways out of our reverence for God. If you do these things in an effort to manipulate your wife into better behavior your motives are off base and the result will not ultimately be God honoring.