How To Love Your Wife or Husband as God Intended
How Men and Women Communicate Differently in a Marriage Relationship
By Pastor Ron Jones, D.D., © Titus Institute, 2003
The Scriptures urge husbands and wives to love each other, but the Scriptures focus on different ways of accomplishing that due to gender differences.
Eph.5:25-30 Paul focuses the husband on valuing his wife as Christ values the church by caring for her and her needs.
1 Pet. 3:7 Peter focuses the husband on being considerate of his wife and her concerns
Eph.5:22-24 Paul focuses the wife on following her husband and respecting him.
Tit.2:4 Paul focuses the wife on keeping her “affections” turned toward her husband, children, and home.
“Biblical Love” (agape) = “valuing others as God values them and then sacrificing yourself for them”
How your wife can feel loved and valued by you, her husband:
1. Her purpose in relating and communicating is to sense and feel she is valued and loved by you,
A woman wants to be touched emotionally, she wants to "feel loved” by you, her husband. She wants to feel that she is the most important person in your life under the Lord. She wants to feel close to you.
Women communicate to build relationships, men communicate to share information or solve problems.
a. A wife senses and feels loved by you when
1) She senses that you want to be with her
You need to give emotional signals that you want to be with her. You should greet her and give her attention when she comes home or she comes into your presence. You should tell her you are glad to see her accompanied by a warm kiss and/or a hug. Tell her you are glad to see her.
When you go places together you should make sure that you first take into consideration any needs she may have.
2) She senses you value talking with her
Take a moment and focus your attention on her whenever she is speaking to you. Keep focusing on her for as long as she is speaking.
This is especially important because details are important to women and they want to share them with their husbands. If their husbands make the mistake of not paying attention, getting impatient with all the details, or trying to speed up the conversation, women do not feel valued. Giving you details is part of how she communicates. She is sharing her feelings in those details.
3) You should give her regular opportunities to share her concerns with you, which makes her feel close to you.
Wives want to share their concerns with their husbands on a daily basis.
a) These concerns involve issues outside her marriage that are on her mind
such as extended family, school, work, friends, and the like and the pressures and fears she feels as result of these.
b) These concerns involve issues regarding her interaction with you, her husband, your behavior toward her, household problems, and any children you might have.
A wife feels close to her husband when she is able to share with him her concerns in these areas and she feels that he is listening with a sympathetic ear.
She is “bridging to you” as she unloads her concerns from her heart and mind to her husband who will help carry those concerns.
It is like building a bridge to you and then carrying her concerns over that bridge which she then shares with you. Those feelings should be important to you simply because they are your wife’s concerns.
They are to be treasured and validated by such assurances as “I can see why you feel that way” and “That must be difficult for you to cope with” and the like.
She does not want a quick solution no matter how good that solution is. She is sharing her concerns so you can sympathize with her, not solve it. Solutions are for later.
If you listen carefully and try to understand her concerns, she will feel loved by you and will feel close to you.
As her husband you need to ask her questions to clarify her concerns and to understand what specific issues she is concerned about.
When she shares her concerns (and even fears) about your relationship (i.e. “we are not spending enough time together”) don’t feel that she is attacking you. She is not. Don’t defend your actions and don’t try to solve it right then. Try to see things from her perspective and listen. That does not mean her perspective is correct about you and her relationship. She is not trying to share objective facts, she is trying to share her feelings and concerns.
Her feelings are not validated when they are pushed aside for a quick solution or by a quick defense. Wait for her to approach you for a solution or suggest it at another time. He should make sure he really understands what she is concerned about.
You should pick one or two things that she has concerns about in regard to your behavior and make a change. Over a few weeks she will begin to respond to your demonstration of love to her in making changes. If you have constructive criticism for her, wait until another time and then talk with her about it.
Sometimes your wife may feel “out of sorts,” then just sit with her and hold her.
2. Women perceive and communicate wholistically, men perceive and communicate compartmentally.
Your wife will tend share her feelings with sweeping statements such as “If our marriage keeps going on like this, we will not even know each other in a few years” or “you are never home anymore.” These sweeping statements are statements of how she feels about what is happening. Specifics are behind them, but she may not always be able to articulate why she is feeling the way she is.
Women tend to look at things wholistically, when one thing is out of joint the whole thing is out of joint. Men tend to see things compartmentally. A whole thing is made up of parts, which can have one part out of joint when the others are not.
A woman sees a time period such as an evening as a whole and may say to her husband “you didn’t talk to me last night.” She means he didn’t sit down and talk with her for an hour during the evening so she felt she had been heard and loved.
Men see time compartmentally and may respond “we did talk.” He means that he talked with her for ten minutes here and twenty minutes there and another ten minutes here and another twenty minutes there, adding up to one hour that night.
Women see time in blocks. Your wife will want to have an uninterrupted block of time with you, an evening or a day rather than wanting “some of the time” during an evening or a day. Give her uninterrupted time to be with you and choose other times to enjoy your hobbies. She will appreciate this.
Ask her questions to clarify her concerns and to understand what specific issues she is concerned about.
Women see their marriage relationship in the center of their lives.
A woman sees her relationship with her husband and children in the center of her life. The Lord is the very center around which she, her husband and children revolve. Then there is everyone and everything thing else. If she feels her relationship with her husband is out of sync, her whole world is out of sync.
Men see their marriage relationship as the most important part of their lives.
A man sees his relationship with his wife as the most important person in his world. “My wife and I and our children, then my career, and my friends, etc.” If he feels his relationship with his wife is out of sync, he can still feel that his whole world is not out of sync, but one part is, the most important part, but still one part.
Women see their husbands as their best friends, in a different way than men do.
Women and men both talk of being “best friends” when they get married, but their ideas of best friends are very different. Her idea is spending time together sharing their innermost thoughts and concerns (a confidant). This is how she is used to relating with her friends.
His idea is pizza, Dr. Pepper and a movie (a companion). This is how he relates to his friends. One is not right and the other wrong. They are both good.
The solution is to do both and understand how each enjoys it.
How a husband desires to be loved and valued by you, his wife:
1. His purpose in relating and communicating is to sense that you, his wife respects him and appreciates all that he does for you, the home, the family, and for society.
A man feels valued and loved when he is respected for his character, his abilities, and what he has accomplished by those that he loves.
A man feels valued and loved when he is appreciated for all that he does by those that he loves.
A husband wants to feel that his wife appreciates the burden he carries and the sacrifices that he makes for her as he works at his career. Husbands feel a big burden to provide for their family and they want to feel respected and appreciated for it.
This does not mean that wives do not carry as great a burden and responsibility, but wives do not feel valued when they are appreciated for this as husbands do.
a. He senses and feels loved by you, his wife, when
1). You compliment him for working hard to provide for you and your children.
Again, this does not mean that you do not carry an equal burden or responsibility, it is just that he feels appreciated when you compliment him for it; you feel appreciated when he listens and validates you. If he listens to you, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have concerns also. It is just that sharing his concerns with you, does not make him feel valued, being complimented does.
2) You defend him, his abilities, character, and the like against anyone he mentions who is criticizing him.
If he shares with you how someone criticized him, you should stand verbally at his side and support him.
3) You compliment him for the things that he enjoys which show his abilities.
Men love to “accomplish” something and then express verbally that accomplishment. This makes them feel valuable. To “accomplish” often involves career, hobbies, interests, and the like.
He says, “I just designed the ultimate web page for my company.” “I shot ten free throws in the basket in a row!” “I just fixed the door that was squeaking.”
These are not egoists looking for compliments, but men expressing their accomplishments!
As he validates your feelings, you should validate his accomplishments. “That’s great, honey, that is an awesome web page.” “Shooting ten three throws in a row, is not easy!” “Thanks for fixing that door, it is nice to have you around to fix things.”
Remember, when a husband announces some small task that he has accomplished around the home, a woman may feel that if she compliments him she is slighted because he is being complimented for something she does everyday. But she must see this as unrelated to her efforts and as a way to make him feel loved and appreciated.
4) You compliment him regularly for what he is doing or has done rather than exclusively focusing on what he hasn’t done.
This balances out your sharing of concerns about what he is not doing in your relationship or around the house. This makes a man feel like a winner, not a failure and he will often want to get better.
5) You ask for his advice at times and then follow it. A man loves it when someone asks him for his advice or to solve a problem. This makes him feel valuable.
6) You respect his need for some “downtime” to isolate himself from everyone in order to replenish his energy.
Women generally replenish their energy through conversation, men through isolation. Women should not feel neglected by their husbands if he is spending time with her regularly and then wants to spend some time alone as well.
Principles of Mutual Open and Honest Communication:
1. It is important that you communicate with your mate if you have a major conflict with him or her. Holding onto your anger is sinful. Suppressing anger is not healthy. Using humor to attack or share your displeasure is destructive not constructive.
Gently and lovingly share how you feel; that’s important. Choose the right time. Speak directly and personally. Be honest.
2. Accept and validate each other’s views and perceptions about an issue as important because each of you are the husband or wife of the other.
Because your wife feels strongly about an issue, it is important. Because your husband feels a certain way it is important. Whether it is true or false is not the issue when it comes to communicating, only when it comes to solving the problem.
3. Don’t use accusatory language when you have a conflict, such as “You don’t love me” or “You hurt me.”
Rather say, “When you do that (speaking of a habit you wish he or she would not do) or did that (speaking of a particular action) it makes me feel unloved or devalued, or it hurts me…”
4. Don’t be harsh. Be gentle. Prov.15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”
5. Always affirm the other person reminding him or her that you accept him or her as he or she is and love them. Affirm first, then bring constructive criticism.
6. Focus on your desired expectations or positive changes rather than on what is negative. “It would be wonderful, if you…” rather than “I hate it when you…”
7. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Think about what he or she is going through and what trials and struggles he or she is facing.
8. Before you bring something up, ask yourself, “What have I done to contribute to my husband/wife behaving this way?” (Examine your own eye for a log before you look for a stick in the eye of your mate - Matt.7)
Practicing these simple principles will help you develop a relationship in which you show love to your husband or wife and have open and honest communication!