Want to know how to love your wife? I’ll show you how. It’s not as hard as you might think. The number one thing you need to know is…LISTEN TO HER!
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-33
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hates their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of His body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Husbands, Love Your Wife. . . Listen to Her!
The number one way, time and time again, women say they need to feel loved is by being listened to. Women who feel unheard also feel unloved, and not loving your wife isn’t an option. Let’s face it, as men, we come hard wired to view communication in a very utilitarian way. Guys talk when they have something to say, and usually the something to be said is part of accomplishing a specific task.
John calls his friend to ask him if he has a specific tool for a home improvement project and to see whether or not he has any pointers. The two men exchange information quickly and efficiently. Then the call is over. If John doesn’t call his friend for a few weeks, the man does not wonder if John no longer cares about him. Instead, if asked about the lack of communication, these men would simply remind the questioner there was nothing needing to be said.
In fact, there is an unwritten code among guys, if another man calls me, saying he was just thinking about me and wanted to talk, I am allowed to punch him in the face.
Not so with our wives. She needs closeness in relationship with us and feels distant when we have not connected verbally. Obeying the command of Scripture to love your wife requires men to learn to listen. You will never lead your home if you cannot listen. In fact, a huge amount of the stress and hardship I see in my office every week could be prevented if men could master a few simple listening skills:
1st– Body Language Basics:
Men, you communicate your affection and attention with your physical presentation. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell your wife you are listening if your body language says you aren’t.
1. Turn to face her, not just your head – although that is a good start – but the rest of your body as well. When you are into something: watching football, working on a project, or playing a video game, your body is turned towards the activity, reflecting your focus. Do the same for her.
2. Look her in the eyes. The number one complaint I hear as a therapist from women is, “He won’t look me in the eye.” When I say look her in the eye, don’t stare at her, unblinking. Look at her naturally, expressing your intent and desire to hear her. If she doesn’t have your eyes, you don’t have her heart.
3. Keep your arms open, not crossed or closed. This communicates being receptive to what she is telling you.
2nd– Think Crock Pot, Not Microwave:
We are all busy and have a lot on our plates. There are far more demands on your time than you can meet. What this means, is you are going to have to intentionally schedule time to talk with your wife. This time needs to be more than the five minutes before you fall asleep after another busy day or the commercial breaks during the big game.
When husbands don’t take time, they engage in what we call attempting to microwave relationship. They are hoping to accomplish creating a deep and fulfilling relationship with their wife in the time it takes to microwave popcorn. What is even more interesting is they’re upset when their wife calls them out on it. Husbands will spin her astute observations into an attack, telling her she is critical and doesn’t appreciate his efforts.
When guys do this in my office, I call them on it “It’s not her fault for noticing you are being a bonehead, you married an intelligent woman.” Take time with your wife, showing her she is important. Doing so will communicate your love and allow listening to be possible.
Men resist me on this one, saying they are too busy or it’s unrealistic. However, I have never had a man who tries it ever tell me they regretted the decision. Trust me, taking time to listen to your wife is the most efficient, time effective way to deal with and prevent problems.
3rd– Say Something, Stupid!
If you have managed the first two, let’s up the ante still further. Now it’s time to add to the conversation, actively letting her know you are listening and interested in what she is saying. We are going to use two simple techniques her:.
- Check in with her by putting what she is saying in your words, giving it back to her, and asking if you are hearing this correctly. Use a simple phrase like, “Is that what I hear you saying,” or “Is that what you mean?” You are showing your interest in both what she is saying and your intent on hearing it correctly. This is different than sitting quietly, staring at her, hoping she is happy. I listen to people professionally and check in with people this way all the time. Why? Because I can’t read minds, but I can ask questions.
- Make statements letting her know you care about what she is telling you. It’s one thing for her to tell you about a problem, it is quite another for her to know you care deeply. Here are some suggestions, “Thank you for sharing that,” “What you are feeling really matters to me”, or “I appreciate the chance to hear your heart.” WARNING: never say the words “I understand.” Your job is to help your wife feel listened to. If she comes to the conclusion you understand, that is fine, it’s her call, don’t make that jump yourself.
4th– Listening Does Not Require You to Agree With Her:
Let’s take an unnecessary burden off of your shoulders. You can do all of the above without agreeing with your wife. How is that possible? Everything mentioned above is for the purpose of actively listening to your wife. Hearing her and caring about where she is, is simply that, hearing and caring. You are loving her if you do. It does not mean you have to agree with her perspective, thoughts, or decisions. Don’t worry about your listening being a form of agreement. It isn’t.
God placed the mantel of leading the home squarely on your shoulders. Leading your wife means loving your wife. Loving her requires you listen to her. Single men, if you don’t want this responsibility, don’t get married or be in a relationship. Married men and men who want to be in relationship, practice the things listed above. They are not genetically inherited, they are learned.