Lisa and I were at a women’s conference when Lisa asked the wife sitting next to her how she had slept the night before. “Terrible,” she replied. “I’m used to my husband’s backrub every night and it’s hard to get to sleep without it.”
“Every night?” Lisa asked.
Plenty of these blog posts have challenged selfish husbands (and, admittedly less often, wives). But in the next two posts, I want to celebrate some very good husbands and then some very good wives. Instead of always talking about problem spouses, let’s stay in the spirit of Thanksgiving and celebrate the good ones. My hope is that singles will learn what married spouses end up valuing most, and for all of us married people to be inspired to become the kind of spouse that our wife or husband would call “the best of the best.”
I was moved to write this post the weekend that Harvey hit Houston. Lisa and I invited a married couple over to watch the Mayweather/MacGregor fight Saturday night. Technically, Harvey landed on Friday, and then there was a lull Saturday morning and afternoon. We thought maybe we had escaped it and called some friends to come over and watch the fight. The rains hit really hard just before the fight started however, so our neighborhood was transformed into water world between the time they arrived and the time they left.
Actually, one of them left a little earlier to check on their dog. The dog is old, deaf, and almost blind (it probably should have died five years ago but is just too stubborn), but the wife was worried that poor Bella would be scared so she asked her husband to go get her (they live about two miles away). Her husband patiently pointed out that a deaf and blind dog wouldn’t know it if a hurricane blew their house apart, but he loves his wife so he went to their house to get Bella. It took him over 20 minutes to make the drive one way, and just as long to make it back.
His wife knew she was making a bit of an unreasonable request, but he went anyway. And while he was gone, she praised him as “one of the best husbands in the world.”
There are husbands like this out there, and there are plenty of husbands who cherish and spoil their wives.
When wives praise their husbands like this, I often probe to find out what they think makes their husband so special. I’ve come up with three things in particular that most wives seem to praise. There are others, of course, and I’m asking married women to add to this list in the comments section below.
Single women: this is what you should look for, if you’re like most women. And husbands, these are the kinds of things we should aspire to if we want our wives to be thankful they married us.
Without fail, wives that are particularly grateful for their husbands are thankful that he’s not mean, harsh, or prone to temper-laden outbursts. Life’s too short for explosive drama. These wives praise patience and gentleness. They know they can mess up and even occasionally make absurd requests, but even then, they don’t want to have to “pay” for these requests and mistakes with volcanic temper tantrums.
Single women: you will be happiest if you marry a man who is kind, patient, and gentle with you. If he’s harsh, vindictive, if he yells and makes you “pay” for not being perfect, you’ll live with many regrets. Temperament is a huge thing.
I know a woman who has, in her mind, met perhaps the man of all men—he has a high profile law enforcement position where he can act like an alpha male (“Move this car now!”), but then he turns to her and gently says, “So, babe, what can I get you to eat this evening?”
Married men: this is one area where we can grow and mature if we choose to. Think of the kindness with which God has treated you and give that same kindness to your wife. You know you’re not perfect. Give your wife the same grace that you need. The “perfect” Christian husband could be summed up by Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Wives generally love to be spiritually challenged by their husbands. The wife who spent part of Harvey with us was raised by an alcoholic father. She decided in college that maybe it would be best if she didn’t drink. Early on in her dating relationship with her now husband, she shared her resolve to abstain from drinking and why. Then, at a party, he caught her holding a mixed drink. “Hey,” he said, “If you and I are going to date, this kind of thing isn’t going to fly.”
He wasn’t controlling; he was just firm, essentially saying, “You can drink or date me, but you can’t do both.” She had never had another guy call her to follow through on a commitment she had made to God before, and from that point on, she was smitten.
So often, I see single women trying to drag their boyfriends to church, but the girlfriend is the one who sets moral boundaries, who makes sure they stay active in church, who brings up God and prayer and Scripture. Women, if you have to drag him to faith, don’t ever expect him to challenge your faith. Find a guy who already challenges you just where you are.
Guys, it’s hard to hold our wives accountable when they see us making compromise after compromise. One of the best gifts we can give our wives is consecration to God—reading his word, yielding to his will, surrendering to his moral call.
I’ve never met a wife who calls her husband the best of the best if she feels the least bit threatened by him physically. Every husband will get angry from time to time, but the best husbands know how to deal with their anger without letting their wives feel threatened.
Single women, don’t even think about marrying a man if it’s even remotely possible in your mind that he could possibly hit you. Marriage is too intense, and living together makes you too vulnerable, to put yourself in a place in which you could be in danger of bodily harm.
When a man is stronger than his wife and his wife knows his strength goes only one way—protection, not harm—she feels doubly blessed. If he’s stronger than her and she’s not certain which direction his strength will be used, what could be a blessing becomes a potential threat.
Husbands, Colossians 3:19 tells us to never be harsh with our wives. That not only precludes physical violence, it also rules out abusive language.
The other aspect of “security” is a willingness to pull our own financial weight. If we are lazy and refuse to use our strength to help provide for the family’s financial needs, she’ll never respect us. I’ve never met a wife who respects her husband when he refuses to work or accepts long-term un-employment or under-employment without working hard to change it. I’ve seen wives praise husbands beating the pavement to find work and being understanding about a difficult economy. But when a guy doesn’t care about his unemployment as much as his wife does? That kills her respect for him.
So if you’re a single woman and you want to be happy in your marriage, choose a man with the right temperament, a maturing, strong faith, and one who brings security to your life.
If you’re a single man and you want to make yourself a wise catch, work on growing in patience as much as you maintain your abs. Become the kind of contagious Christian that makes others want to grow closer to God. Learn to deal with frustration without becoming violent, and develop a nurturing, protective posture toward others—physically and financially.
If you’re a married man you can build your wife’s affection by growing in all of these areas. And if you’re a married woman, just know that what gets praised often gets reinforced. When I hear my wife brag on me that makes me want to become more of what she’s bragging about. If your husband hears more of your disappointments than your praises, he may even begin to shut down.
Married women, what would you add to this list? And disappointed wives, please know we want this to be a positive post, so we won’t be posting comments that berate husbands or state how much you wish your husband was more like this. I hope you understand.