November 25, 2017

Celebrating the Good Husband: How to Spot One, How to Keep One

Gary Thomas — 

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.

“Every night.”

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.


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26 responses to Celebrating the Good Husband: How to Spot One, How to Keep One

  1. What wonderful qualities. Praying and holding fast in faith for God’s best.

  2. I have been married now for going on 39 years. It has had a common thread that has run through it of marital strife. (both of us believers) Three years ago we lost our son (32) and all of our little issues became explosive. We have JUST gotten back together after a 5 mo separation. I am a transformed woman …..and I am seeing a husband that I have longed for for years!!! Through these 5 months I have read MUCH of your writings. THANK YOU……… for saying some hard things to “Christian” men. The body of Christ needs more of that. I am working on me……. to grow my heart bigger and be MORE LIKE JESUS. PRAYING that our marriage will look very different these next years and glorify God as we display the gospel. I am CELEBRATING the GOOD HUSBAND that I am watching unfold before my eyes!!!!

  3. I almost cried reading this because all of those items are exactly how I would describe my husband. His temperament especially was one of the deciding factors in us getting married because he showed time and time again that he would not act patronizingly, cruelly or impatiently when I came to him with emotions–even irrationally-based emotions! Without his patience and kindness, we would not be married today. I hope every single woman looks at this seriously, because these items speak volumes about the character of the man. Thank you for writing this!

  4. Great posts everyone! Thanks for the input. One of the things that I love the most about my husband is his level of involvement with our son. He spends so much time with him and is the Dad that will play, take him to the park, read with him, and help homeschool him. I look forward to when he comes home at night because my son is a handful : )

  5. I would add trust to that list. Trust, not just faithful to me, but that I can trust him to do the right thing. Trust him with financial decisions for example. I can trust that the choices he makes benefit our family.

  6. Communication – daily. On a daily basis we tend to tell each other what we like about each other on the spot, it sounds very cliche saying things that tend to only befitting the Honeymooners stage – but I truly feel that we will practice this forever. You can’t stop reminding each other what pleases you and you can’t stop asking each other how to please them. Never assume things are good or bad – ask, praise, talk, discuss, every day. We have known each other for 35 years, dating for 6 years, and married for less than one year.

  7. Work Ethic:
    Whether he makes the most money, or keeps the home clean. A woman wants a man who does his best (as unto the Lord).
    This is definitely in the top 5 things I love about my husband. He was raised the old fashioned way and believes in a hard day’s work.
    Today as we walked into a store we saw a younger coupe walking in the parking lot. My husband says to himself out loud “what is he doing, why doesn’t he take the carrier for her?” The young lady was carrying the baby carrier from the car, as the man with her walked with empty hands.
    Work Ethic… willing out out work any female in his presence, not because she can’t, but because he should.

  8. I want to add “grace-filled communication.”
    By the time my husband came into my life, I’d reached a very happy single status sprinkled with some past-relationship-regret. I made a mental list of everything I was going to tell my next date right off the bat, during the first date. No point in he or I investing emotionally if later something might “make or break” what was starting. Trusting God, I revealed major sin and other faults with him on our first date. Four years later, we are married and only have conflict about what home project to prioritize, haha, or that he works too much (which is laughable because he knows one of my favorite things about him is his hard work ethic, hehe). To this day, I believe setting that expectation of complete openness has kept my husband and I on the same page.
    In regards to my husband, he has never judged me for what I talk about with him. He finds what I am saying is important to me and listens. If he doesn’t have a response, he lets me know I’m heard. No matter how silly the matter may be or how many times I say it, he is full of grace for me.
    In turn, he feels a freedom to present ideas for our growing family and never is afraid to confess when he’s made mistake. Grace Filled Communication. It’s absolutely necessary.

  9. Hi April a very good reminder here to pray for myself as well . So often I tend to overlook this.

  10. I’ve been a Christian since I was 7, but pretty much made every wrong choice possible while dating my husband. Though I did meet him at church, I chose a husband like you would choose a leather couch (read: he looked really good and smelled and felt good).
    Not a lot to base a long term relationship off of, especially a Christian one!
    Three years ago he disclosed a lifetime of porn use, and the fact that he had only recently become a Christian (!)
    It’s been a difficult recovery time, and I have suffered the usual PTSD symptoms that go along with those kinds of disclosures, but I can honestly say that he is an Amazing Man, and watching him grow in Christ is one of the most incredible privileges I could have as a wife and as a person. I am so grateful for him, every day of my life, even through all these ups and downs of the last three years. The way he has embraced vulnerability has invited me to open up and grow in my own walk with God as well.

    • Wow, Christina, I didn’t see the twist coming (about the fantastic turnaround). Praise God. Jesus really does make all the difference, if we’ll just surrender to him.

  11. Great article! Just forwarded it on to my single daughter!

  12. I love that you mentioned security, because when asked what women want from men, that’s always my answer: “security.” That can involve emotional security, physical security, financial security, spiritual security, etc., but I strongly believe that wives want to feel safe and cared for with their husbands — perhaps because God created us more biologically vulnerable. And because I write specifically about the marriage bed, I stress the importance of a wife feeling secure around her husband so that she can open herself fully to intimacy. Thanks for this great insight!

  13. The thing I most appreciate about my husband is his gentleness and his sense of humor. I also very much agree with the qualities mentioned above. My husband’s faith and commitment inspire me, I never even think of the fact that he could hurt me physically, and he is such a willing servant. A husband who loves you gently and firmly like that makes you want to be a better wife. But I would definitely add sense of humor to the list as I know that quality definitely helps us survive our marriage.

  14. 1. Even Tempered: I’ve been married to my husband almost 3 years now and I have never – ever – seen him blow his top. He is the most even tempered person I have ever met in my life … something that I didn’t fully realize that I needed until it was given to me when we married. I grew up around family – greater family and close – that were very prone to exploding verbally and with a temper. So, it’s been a real switch to be with someone who doesn’t raise his voice or explode into a verbal firing round. I was really bowled over by this when we first were married, every time I did something the wrong way or forgot something – I braced myself for the verbal tirade – but it never came!

    2. He Takes Care of Me: I have some health issues and whenever I need his help – he’s always there for me! He will take time out of his busy farm schedule to come assist me with our toddler or with something that I cannot do alone.
    Though we are not where we need to be financially, he still makes sure that my needs are met even if it means buying full price for an item when it cannot be found anywhere else. He also gave me a beautiful jewelry set – necklace, earrings and bracelet – for my birthday just this week!

    3. He is also a very hard worker: He is trying to build our farm up to be self supporting as I write this. But it’s slow work, but I trust that the Lord will bless his efforts!

    4. He has told me to my face that he wants to be different than most husbands or fathers — he wants to be more involved and proactive in our family life than what most men are willing to do.

    5. During our Courtship: We exchanged OVER 2,000 Emails during the first year of our relationship … making sure we were of the same mind on key issues — such as Theology, child-rearing, homeschooling and other topics that have major impact on one’s future.

    … When I take time to sit down and think about it, I do feel blessed in all that my husband is … even if he doesn’t see the need for pink hair bow for our little girl like I do… *giggle*.

    • Lianna Scott sooo happy for you! I’m almost married lol…but my fiance does the following without me having to tell him:

      1. Makes breakfast most days of the week.

      2. Cooks lunch (I taught him how to cook, now he cooks rice better than me lol!)

      3. Helps me with laundry, and helps fold clothes.

      4. Helps me with ironing clothes.

      5. Helps with getting my daughter ready for school.

      6. Give me massages.

      7. Prays with me every morning and night.

      8. Tell me i’m beautiful each morning I leave for work and also gives me a kiss.

      9. Encourages me to get to work on time.

      10. Plus many more…..

      Thank God for that man! Such a loving, God- fearing man who loves and respects me! No man on this earth can EVER compare to him (I can say that cause i’ve dated many in the past).


  15. The moment I knew my then-boyfriend was “the one” for me was when he came to serve for a week at the ministry I was working for. We woke up early every morning to pray over the ministry and spend some time together before the craziness of the day started.

    One morning as we were praying, he broke down crying as he was overwhelmed by God and His power. At the same time, I felt God nudging me to take notice as this was a good man. We’re married now, and expecting our first baby soon. Although he’s not perfect, I’ve seen that tenderness in him often and it makes me fall deeper in love with him every time.

  16. Once again, I love this blog!

    My husband and I have been married for over 18 years. I love him more today than I ever have before. We have grown together in our faith in Jesus Christ. Look for someone who is willing to grow WITH you in your faith. Look for someone who will do a Bible study together.

    Be sure that you are praying for the man that you will marry whoever he may be. Be sure that you are also praying for yourself as a wife.

    Thank you Gary for writing this and keeping it positive!

  17. Hi Pastor Gary,
    Great post! You highlight very important character qualities fo improve, celebrate and for singles to look out for. As a follow up to your warning to singles regarding potential physical violence which also dovetails your beautifull example on temperament I would add the following. Defensiveness and joking put downs are leading red flags that identify potential emotional abuse that may also lead to physical violence. Abuse escalates over time. Also, when singles meet someone and raise a complaint or concern about a behavior. If you recieve a response that is quick to jump to a defensive position (like deflecting to avoid the discussion, reversing the blame to make it be your fault, minimizing your feelings as though your feelings are not important) these signs of over controlling and coercive abuse. In contrast when singles experience an openness to listen and a desire to work towards a mutually respectful and caring solution this is a sign of real emotional IQ. I don’t mean a quick solution of automatic compliance to your request. That often results in a one time solution followed by broken promises. A good tempermant works together for meaningful solutions, remembering boundaries and agreements and continues to collaborate towards an improved relationship.

  18. I would like to add another point to the list of things I believe is important to a woman’s happiness in marriage. Although, typically it has been a man’s issue, i’d like to address the physical aspects of marriage from a woman’s point of view. Physical touch, including hugging, sitting close, holding hands, kissing and looking deep into her eyes, as well as sexual intimacy are very important to many women. I believe this is actually connected to the feeling of security. This attention that comes from the man’s desire to connect physically creates a sense of connection and security for the woman. Without this affection, I believe it sets the tone for a platonic relationship, rather than an intimate one, and is neither fulfilling or satisfying.

  19. My husband prays with me every morning before he leaves for work! That gesture always makes me feel cared for! I am thankful for a praying husband!

  20. I am blessed with a wonderful husband. After a difficult past involving alcohol and prison, which I have not seen, Jesus healed him and then we met and then he worked hard on himself and on our relationship. The thing I’ve always appreciated the most is his willingness to admit his faults and his will to change. During our engagement it was really hard in many ways, I don’t remember that time as “beautiful”, but we decided that the things that kept us together were stronger than the challenges, and got married. We knew that we needed to work constantly in order to build our marriage, accepting each other with love and patience, in which both of us were beginners. My husband was a beginner in the first two areas you mention. I was a beginner in everything. Now we have been married for two years (which is not much I know) and life with him is wonderful and much better than I expected. On his part, he feels the same. So what made the difference for us is the readiness to change, and the good news, I think, is that humans are not made of marble, that we learn from mistakes if we are willing to, and we can be transformed in the hands of God if we let Him and if we love the one who lives with us enough. [This doesn’t mean we should marry someone who is not the good fit, hoping he/she will change someday!!!] (Excuse my English, I’m Italian). Greetings!