So many people look at marriage as a way to get their own needs met. In a godly, healthy marriage you will have many needs met. But as an adult, as a believer and as a wife, you will be much happier, more satisfied and find more success in your marriage if you focus more of your efforts on what your husband needs from you rather than first seeking to get your own needs met.
Your husband is responsible for his own behavior. Always. But as his wife, you have much more influence and "power" in your relationship than you probably realize. You are fully equal to your husband in the sight of God, but He has given you a role and responsibility in your husband's life that is unique.
For your own sake, pay attention to these five things your husband needs from you. These are needs that no one else can meet to the degree that you as his wife can. Meeting some of these needs may feel unnatural to you, but just do it. Don't worry about doing it perfectly. But if you proactively seek to understand and meet these needs in your husband, you can be the catalyst God uses to support him in becoming the man God created him to be.
1. Honor and Respect
A man thrives on honor and respect. He will gravitate to the place where he is most honored and respected whether at work or at home. This does not mean you refuse to see his faults, but it means you look for the best in him and affirm all that is good. Just as you don't want him to give you conditional love, don't give him conditional respect. Offer it as a gift, generously. He is likely to do more of any behavior you appreciate and affirm.
You show him respect by honoring his opinion, following his leadership, covering his faults, and allowing him to fail. You are free to—and should—speak up when you see him going in a "wrong" or dangerous direction, but allow God to be the enforcer. Speak well of him in front of others. Be his biggest cheerleader. Magnify his good qualities. Treat him at a level above what you may think he deserves, and he is likely to do all he can to live up to that.
(If there is abuse going on, take it seriously. Get some help. You can do that even while respecting your husband.)
2. Affirm His Sexual Nature
No, you don't have to say yes every time your husband wants sex. This is about so much more than frequency. His sexuality is one of the primary ways your husband experiences and expresses his masculinity. He needs you to embrace and affirm his sexual nature; that's the way God made him. He needs you to accept your role as the object of his sexual desires. Simply "doing your duty" sexually doesn't cut it; your husband feels successful when you are satisfied, when you enjoy yourself, when you show that you desire him. Actively pursue intimacy with him.
A man's sexual needs often get a bad reputation because of how often they have been distorted. Remember, your husband is always responsible for his own behavior. But under God you, as his wife, can support and affirm who God made him to be, including sexually. Stretch yourself. Take a mental step toward your husband, and follow it up. Be more sexual than you feel. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. It will keep drawing your husband back to you.
3. Create a Home
This has nothing to do with whether or not you work outside the home, or what level of gifting and desire you have in cooking, cleaning or decorating. Your husband needs to be an equal partner in home responsibilities. But your husband needs you to be the architect of the home environment. He needs to have a place to come home to, regardless of how humble the physical surroundings.
Think through what your husband's experience is like when he comes home. Is it a place he wants to be? Is he safe there? Is the fragrance of your attitude and demeanor appealing? Does he feel as though home is where he belongs? Although the physical environment has an influence, much more important is the sense of rest, of being welcomed, of safety, of being loved, valued and understood.
4. Be His Friend
You're not your husband's mother or his child. He needs you to be his helpmeet, his partner, his friend. If you find yourself criticizing, micro-managing, belittling, controlling, begging, demanding or expecting him to "fix" you, quit it. He will end up resenting you if you play his mother, and he will not respect or desire you if you play his child.
Enter his world. Show interest in what interests him. Stretch yourself to understand things he does or values. Ask questions, join him in some activity he enjoys, and choose to find joy in doing things together. Many men will feel much more motivated to communicate from their heart when they are engaging in some enjoyable activity with their best friend—you.
5. Pray for Him
Your influence on your husband is never greater than when you are on your knees. Countless men have been drawn to God through a praying wife. More than your words to your husband, your words to God about him and for him will make a difference.
Don't pray only that God change him, although you are free to do that. Also pray for God to show you who He needs you to be to your husband at this season of your marriage. Ask Him to create such an inviting fragrance through you that your husband can't help but respond. Your sensitivity to the Spirit's work in your life, your husband's life, and your marriage can make you an indispensable partner in what God is seeking to do.
Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-Gyn physician and an ordained Doctor of Ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life that Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com
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