“…and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33). Again, these are clear words but not necessarily instructive on how wives are to do this or what ‘respect’ really looks like. Here are 4 Essentials for Husbands. ♦
At many levels we would acknowledge that the God-given makeup of men and women are unique and distinctly designed. But the incredibly spot-on expression of those differences called out in Holy Scripture in the context of marriage – God’s social design for men and women – is a testimony to Biblical truth and the creative wisdom of God.
“However let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
Where men can and need to demonstrate love in necessary and proven ways (see 8/30 post Essentials for Wives) ranging from relational and emotional security, attentive listening and sensitivity to women’s non-compartmental ways of thought, sexual intimacy and assured beauty and attractiveness, there is a different set of essentials for husbands that women need to grasp to maintain healthy marital relationships.
With all due respect to Aretha Franklin, respect is the key to the heart and expression of love for any man, and specifically husbands here. Just as an understanding of how to really love your wife will help a marriage, an understanding of this pillar in the care and handling of men will unlock the mystery of why we men do what we do. It is as varied and nuanced for men as it is for woman. Only God could have known. That should be proof enough of His omniscience.
4 Healthy Essentials for Husbands
Now let’s focus on husbands. If “respect” is the foundational driver, here are 4 healthy essentials for women to understand and actions to take to respect their husbands.
- Freedom to be a Man – Men want to fly, fight, compete, create, climb, perform, risk, win. They crave adventure in all its forms, even in their minds. There is an innate core desire to be alive – fully alive as we were created. The problem, of course, is that sin in the Garden put a crimp in the lifeline with which we were created. Culture does a number on it too. Unfortunately, even religion can throw a wet blanket over a man’s quest to soar. What’s a Wife to Do? Know that men are already being stifled in many ways. Men need space to operate in their creative gifting and nature. There is certainly potential for abuse here if men are not careful and godly. But they will love a wisely encouraging wife who understands this essential need
- Validation He’s a Winner – This one is so loaded. Men are broken, sinful, insecure and fearful of exposure. (See 4/5 post Essentials for Sons.) Our wounds go back to our youth and have been layered over with façades of bravado and worldly accomplishments. In truth though we are all like scared little boys wondering if we even have what it takes or when will we get found out that we are lacking. In research studies, 72% of men admitted fear of being exposed as imposters.* What’s a Wife to Do? He needs to know he’s a good doer and provider – that you trust him to get things done. Also, know your husband’s story and his deep woundings. Getting him to share this is certainly great fodder for a date night! Give him affirmation and express appreciation. Let him know you’re proud of him. Affirm his triumphs and pray with him over his hurts and losses. He needs to know his God, and his wife, forgive and love him in spite of his past or current wins and defeats.
- Sexual Satisfaction – It’s not that he just needs physical sex to be satisfied, it’s that it’s tied to validation and affirmation that he is loved and desired. 97% of men say this is true. That’s not to say men aren’t also thinking about sex. Not necessarily about the sex act, but the images he carries in his head over the years like a visual Rolodex. It’s not that he doesn’t love his wife or find her attractive, it’s that these images pop up with only minor prompting for 87% of men. And of course, Christian men struggle with this as well. It’s a battle for every man, but one that can be won. What’s a Wife to Do? Know that your rejection of him sexually, though not intended as a rejection of him personally, nevertheless comes across to him as rejection that does not help his fragile and tender heart covered up by male toughness. Make sex an openly discussed priority. No need to necessarily play the wild vixen, but the stoic virgin doesn’t play well for anyone. Understand the battle; don’t freak and become part of the problem. Talk to your husband and let him seek accountability partners in other guys. You don’t want to be wife and Thought Police as well.
- A Beauty to Love and Protect – He really wants to slay dragons, save you the princess in distress, and live happily ever after. This satisfies his need for adventure, love of risk and danger, sexual satisfaction and desire for validation and top performance. 84% of men desire romance; 46% are unsure they will do it well. His desire to provide and protect is significantly entrenched in his DNA, at least for 78% of men. What’s a Wife to Do? Be his princess; let him love and rescue you, even if he’s a bit clumsy and falls off his horse while dropping his sword. Be the beauty; his beauty. Take care of yourself confidently, even as the bride of his youth ages like a fine wine. Keep him your number one, even a priority over the children, and you will free and attract him to love, protect and cherish not only you but the entire family.
* Research statistics from For Women Only, by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn.
And so God says to wives, ‘respect your husband.’ The wisdom of our wise God is profound. Women, understand and practice these essentials and watch you man, your husband, come alive and love you in natural response to a beautiful God-designed cycle of loving and respectful marriage.
Men, do you feel respected? Women, how are you respecting your husband?
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband – Ephesians 5:31-33