His Perfect World
As you begin to understand that your husband’s world is a bit different than yours, the question to ask him is, “What would make your world a perfect place?”
This is how my husband answered that question: “A perfect world for me would be working at a job I completely enjoy, having time for rest and relaxation, and knowing that the people closest to me respect, me, honor me, and love me.”
According to the surveys I took of married men of various ages and in various stages of life, I concluded (with my husband’s nod of approval, of course) that in every man’s world (and most likely your husband’s world too):
. He needs to feel respected as a man
. He needs to feel successful in all he does
. He wants to feel like a king, but not be your god
He Needs to Feel Respected as a Man
Countless studies have affirmed that a man would rather feel respected than loved. We women long to be cherished and loved and pursued, but 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. That passage of Scripture (Ephesians 5:22-25,28,33) starts off by telling wives to submit to their husbands, as to the Lord. We would like to think that husbands are commanded first to love us and, as they love us as their own bodies, we will gladly submit. But if we look carefully, we see that in this case, the Bible breaks its usual pattern of laying the responsibility on the husband first. The wives are first commanded to submit to (come under the leadership of) their husbands. And then the husbands are commanded to love. This doesn’t imply we must earn that love through our obedience. But I believe our obedience and willingness to come under the leadership of our husbands makes it easier for them to obey the tall order God has given them: to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
God’s perfect design is that as a husband is being respected, he will readily love his wife. And as a wife is being loved, she will readily respect her husband. In a perfect world — which we, unfortunately, don’t live in — that would be the case. In our world — which is marred by selfishness and sin, which come more naturally to us than sacrificial love — one of you, you or your husband, must make the first move. Yes, in the second reference of this passage (verse 33), the command is given to your husband first. But the bottom line is that we both (husbands and wives) are given the command 12 verses earlier in Ephesians 5:21 to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Before any instruction is given to the wife or husband in that chapter, we see the words “submit to one another.” And why? Out of reverence for Christ. Show your reverence to the One who gave His all for you by giving your all — your love, your respect, your honor — to your husband. And when you do, see if his love doesn’t truly follow!
He Needs to Feel Successful in All He Does
For a man, being productive or successful at something is important. And if your husband isn’t, in reality, succeeding at something, he at least needs to feel like he’s winning
Men want to succeed. So what can we, as wives, do with that information? Let your husband know he is succeeding in the areas that are most important to him and you. And if what is important to you isn’t necessarily important to him, let him know every now and then that he is succeeding in that area, and it just may become an important area to him after all.
Many a man will give up altogether and go passive when it comes to parenting if you are insisting your parental skills are better. Many a man will stop communicating if you have let him know he is a failure at communication. On the other hand, if you are praising his efforts — even if at this point they are just efforts — he will want to continue to please you.
Treat him like a winner at home, and he’ll want to be there more often. Praise him for his handiwork around the house, and you’ll find him offering to be your handyman. Encourage him and tell him how good he makes you feel in the bedroom, and he’ll be more likely to initiate. Encouragement goes a long way…and making your husband feel like a winner will make him want to be around you — especially if you’re his No. 1 fan.
He Wants to Feel Like a King, but Not Be Your God
There’s a difference between treating your husband with the respect and loyalty you would give a king, and depending on him like he’s God.
Many women marry with high expectations, only to be gravely disappointed shortly thereafter when they discover their husband can’t possibly meet all of their emotional needs.
Edie, my counselor-friend, sees this a lot in her practice:
“There’s a lot of anger on the part of women toward their husbands,” she said. “We get focused on our spouse as the one who needs to take care of our needs, and the media adds to that by romanticizing relationships, and we end up projecting our anger onto our husbands for not being the way we expect them to be.”
The quickest way to run your marriage into the ground is to expect your husband to be God in your life — to fill your every need, to know what you’re thinking and feeling and be able to respond accordingly, to be your joy, to be your all-in-all. He is a man. He is not able to be all of that for you. He is human, and that means he has weaknesses and will let you down at times. Finally, he is a sinner (as all of us are), and that means he will disappoint you, anger you, and even hurt you more times than he or you would like. So don’t look to your husband to be God in your life, or to fulfill your every need. Instead, look to God as your spiritual husband.
In Isaiah 54:5-6 we read God’s words to His covenant people of Israel: “Your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit.”
God’s Word frequently uses the marriage relationship to illustrate God as our husband. God desires to be a husband to us and have us respond, in return, as we would respond to a husband — to forsake all other gods and love only Him, to respect Him, to dwell intimately with Him, to look to Him for our provision, and so on. There is nothing that will free up your husband to love you more than taking your emotional expectations off of him and leaving them with God. Your husband can then love you in the best way he is able, without feeling he has an impossible task in front of him. (For an in-depth look at this subject, see my book Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs.)
It’s pretty simple isn’t it? Your husband needs to feel respected. He wants to feel successful. He wants to be treated like a king, but not be your God. His world is simple. Ours is the one that is so often complicated.
A Prayer for You and Your Husband
Lord, help me enter his world…lovingly. God, You have designed my husband as a unique person and I praise You for that. Help me to see his differences as something to celebrate — that he is uniquely made the way he is to complement and balance who I am. Show me how I can grow and become more loving, more patient, more understanding, and also to be more like You, God, through the differences I notice between him and myself. Help me to walk in his world carefully and responsibly, not trying to change him into someone who is more like me, but appreciating Your handiwork in who he is. Give me the eyes to see unique and wonderful things about my husband that I haven’t noticed before, and give me a heart to love him in ways I hadn’t thought about. Grant me words, Lord, to express to him, at just the right time, what he means to me. May I learn what it means to love him out of a love and reverence for You, O God.
And as I begin this journey of seeking to understand and affirm my husband in a greater way, give me a steadfast spirit and an enduring heart to see this through, to complete this book faithfully, not giving up if it seems like there’s too much to wade through or he’s not noticing my efforts. Help me to face each day, each truth, each chapter as a new opportunity to bless his life in ways that I haven’t been aware of before. And may You be pleased to draw our hearts closer together along the way.
Adapted from When a Woman Inspires Her Husband
Copyright © 2011 by Cindi McMenamin, published bt Harvest House, used with permission.