Something I’ve shared with several husbands in our ward is this quip:
Happy is the man who understands how to love his wife the way she wants to be loved.
If you love your wife the way she wants to be loved, it will be about the best thing you can do for her and about the best thing you can do for yourself.
Of course, your wife has her responsibilities to you as well, but I believe, against the grain of modern culture, that the first step is the husband’s. That’s my firm belief. Here are the reasons why.
These are the Bible verses from which this idea grew:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. —Ephesians 5:25,28
So Paul says that a man who loves his wife loves himself. I totally believe that. Why? Because I also believe that if a man loves his wife the way she wants to be loved, that, almost always, she will pay him back a hundredfold. I believe it is her natural response to love you back a hundred times over. (Sometimes other unresolved issues get in the way, that is true—that requires even more love and patience.)
If men took on their masculine role to step forward, to be the ones who express and ask and lead, their wives would be so much happier. If we men overcame our natural tendency to shrink back into our own little worlds, and made some of the following bold efforts consistently, how surprised and delighted our wives would be.
- “It’s time for family prayer.”
- “Let’s have scripture study right now before everyone gets too tired.”
- “I’m taking care of dinner tonight. You don’t have to do anything.”
- “Will you go out with me Friday night? I’ve already called a sitter.”
- “We can’t go to your parents’ Saturday because I’m taking you dancing.”
While I believe men and women are absolutely equal, I also believe we are designed, even wired, for different roles, and it is the bringing together or marriage of these roles that brings us the most satisfaction and happiness.
You may disagree or think me old fashioned, but I think it is my role as a husband to pursue my wife and to court her love everyday. If I don’t, how can she be assured of my love for her? How can I be assured of my love for her? There are certain things you have to do everyday, and this is one of them: Assure your wife of your love. Even if she is grumpy at you, assure her of your love. Even if she seems as happy a cow in the corn crib, express your love to her everyday. It is your job to make sure her love tank is full. No one else can do it like you.
Find out how she wants to be loved. Learn the five love languages and then ask which one will make her feel the most love. She’ll tell you. (Figure out your own love language while you’re at it and tell her what it is.) Then work at it. Of course you’ll both slip and fall, but work at it. Your devotion and sincerity will go a long way with her. When she knows in her heart that you sincerely are in love with her and dedicated to her, she will find it much easier to stand by you and support you and forgive you.
If you think all this is too “touchy-feely,” then I have a question for you: When you were first courting your wife, when you were just warming up to the idea of marriage, was there anything you would not do to win her love? The answer is no.
You were “touchy-feely” then, so why not now?
Did you or did you not put all your cards on the table, so to speak? (Uno, of course.) The answer is yes. Of course you did. That’s why she took a risk on you. Does she feel right now that the risk she took out on you was worth it? What are you holding back? As I have said before on other posts, you can “purchase” your wife at only one price: Everything. If you try to “buy” her at a discount, you won’t get to keep her.
Marriage is not permanent until you make it permanent with the absolute constancy of your love and devotion. Without that, do you really have a marriage? Can it last into eternity? You may endure it in this life, but what will hold it together in the next? Delayed repentance? No. True marriage is made of diamond-quality love, starting now. If not that, then what do you have? Really, what do you have?
Marriage is a dance. Not a wild, all-by-yourself, everyone-do-your-own-thing-on-the-dance-floor dance. It is between a man and a woman. One must lead and another follow. It takes an agreement. It takes cooperation and planning and practice and crushed toes and work. But what could be more meaningful, more pleasing, more fun, or more joyful than getting this dance right?
Men, your marriage won’t go right unless you lead out in it. Your wonderful, talented and beautiful wife will fill the vacuum for you if you don’t lead, but it will never feel right to you.
She is waiting. Her hands are reaching for you. The music is playing. She wants you to ask her to dance.