God has blessed you with the one person you were meant to spend the rest of your life with. Marriage is our treasure, so why wouldn’t we take care of and nurture the gift God’s given us?
But let’s face it, marriage is hard. There are challenges and pitfalls mixed in with the euphoria of uniting in holy matrimony. You’ll both have good days and bad. But it’s loving each other on the bad days that strengthens a marriage.
Society tells us that almost everything else is more important than our marriage and family. But our marriage should be our highest priority, just after loving Christ with all your heart.
How many of you juggle work, kids, soccer, ballet, piano, meetings, and car pool on a daily basis, only to collapse in the evenings in front of the TV, exhausted and knowing you’ve got to be up to do it all again the next morning?
I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there. And because we have school age kids at home, I’m still there. But I can tell you with certainty that when my marriage is nourished and healthy, the rest of the family is nourished and healthy, and those hectic days and busy schedules aren’t all that bad.
There’s a saying that goes, “Happy wife, happy life.” And though people often say it in jest, there’s a truth to it. Think of the roles you play as a wife and mother. You’re the heartbeat of the family.
No one knows better how to juggle schedules, remember who has tests, meetings, or practice. No one knows better when their spouse has had a rough day just by looking at him, and no one knows better when their children’s hearts have been broken and they need a hug.
If our relationship with our spouse is healthy, we will be happy. It takes effort to love someone. Especially if they’re not acting particularly lovable. And by consciously doing these things as wives, we’re setting ourselves up for a happy marriage.
1.) Respect Your Husband
The number one thing that men want is respect. And they REALLY want it from their wives. If you want to see a change in your marriage or your husband, show him respect, even if you think he doesn’t deserve it.
“So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
2.) Pray For Your Husband
Have you ever heard the saying, “The Couple That Prays Together, Stays Together?” I pray for my husband every single day, even days where I’m irritated with him or if we’ve had a fight.
I do it for two specific reasons:
1.) Praying for him daily reminds me that my marriage is a priority, because it’s easy to forget when life gets busy.
2.) I want to be intentional in my prayers for him.
I want to lift him up as head of the household. I pray for his health, for God to soften his heart, for our future, that he has patience and wisdom and submits his fears to Christ. And I pray specifically that his love grows for me every day and that he’s intentional about it.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16
3.) Seek To Please Your Husband in Intimacy
This is an important one. Physical intimacy in marriage is crucial. Becoming one brings us closer together and binds us like nothing else can. Sex is especially important to men. Studies show that sexual fulfillment is a priority to most men in their marriage. Physical intimacy is as important as emotional intimacy. Make sure you’re nourishing them both.
God created sex. When we have sex with our spouse we’re fulfilling God’s design for marriage. Check out this passage from Elisabeth Elliot’s book.
Who of us, given the chance to arrange the world to our liking, would have had the powers of imagination . . . the courage of the Creator when He conceived the idea of sex? We cannot suppose that He overlooked the potentialities, the pitfalls, the high risks that would accompany it. He saw them all. And He made a woman, suitable, fit in every way, for man. (Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman [Tyndale, 1976], 152-153)
When kids, and work, and exhaustion set in, sex is usually the last thing on our minds. Make the time. My goal is to please my husband, and his goal is to please me. We’re putting each other’s needs before our own. Plus it’s fun and a great stress reliever. Just do it.
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.” 1 Corinthians 7:3
4.) Love God
When we love God, everything else falls into place. Our husbands notice. Our children notice. Loving God changes you, and it subsequently changes the people around you. Your capacity for loving your spouse will be so much more because you love God.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” Proverbs 31:30-31
5.) Learn To Forgive and Apologize Quickly
The key word there is quickly. You’re going to have some fights that are real doozies. Sometimes you’re going to be mad. Sometime’s he’s going to be mad. But at the end of the day you love each other. Don’t waste your time together holding grudges or giving the silent treatment.
Don’t wait to communicate once you notice a problem. If you’re the one who is in the wrong, don’t dig your heels in the sand and try to pretend you’re right. Apologize. If your spouse is the one who’s in the wrong, Forgive. And forgive without strings attached.
I can’t imagine there are a lot of widows or widowers in this world who would say if asked, “I wish we’d spent more hours fighting.”
“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)
6.) Keep Your Marriage Private
Build each other up. Never complain about your spouse to your friends, co-workers, or while waiting for a PTA meeting to start. This goes back to respect. Your friends, or anyone you complain to, will remember what you said and think poorly of your husband long after you’ve moved past whatever had you complaining in the first place.
7.) Forget the Past
I honestly think this is one of the most difficult things for women to do. Whether it’s his past before he met you or why you asked him to sleep on the couch six years ago, bringing up those past transgressions when you’re angry feeds your own sense of self-righteousness in why you’re RIGHT.
Let me tell you, Satan is rubbing his hands with glee as he puts those thoughts into your mind. Refer back to number five. Learn to forgive and learn to apologize. But MEAN it. And move on.
8.) Compliment/Complement Your Husband
Tell your husband he’s doing a good job as provider and protector of your family. Thank him when he fulfills your needs, whether it’s something as simple as letting you sleep in one morning or rubbing the sore spot in your back. Appreciate him, and then tell him you appreciate him.
I am always incredibly proud of my husband. When we’re in public or he’s speaking somewhere, I want to complement him so people see him the way I see him. I want to build him up, give him strength and support, and I want to make sure my words of praise reach not only other people’s ears, but his ears as well. It’s my honor to be the greatest support system he’ll ever have.
9.) Divorce is NOT an Option
Of course, I’m not speaking in cases of abuse, neglect, or adultery. As women, fighting for our marriage oftentimes falls to us. We’re the ones who seek counseling first. We’re the ones who buy all the self-help books and then try to get our husbands to read them. It is so important to never give up. Even when you wonder why you’re trying so hard and he’s not.
I’ve heard friends say this before: “I can always get divorced if it doesn’t work out.”
Guess what? People with that attitude will more than likely end up divorced. There is power in words. Especially words that are spoken. Do not speak words you do not want to come to pass. That’s why it’s so important to guard out words and not speak out of anger.
Go into your marriage with the idea that divorce isn’t an option. That attitude gives your spouse confidence that no matter what goes wrong between you, that you’ll still be married and still love each other at the end of it.