Most of the husbands of the wives who do The Respect Dare or take Daughters of Sarah® tell us the same thing: “I am inspired to be a better man because of what she has learned to do for me.”
And on occasion, a husband has also been known to ask, “How can I better express love to my wife?” In an effort to help these men, we have put together this list, derived from wives whose husbands have begun demonstrating love more effectively, and from some of the wives on our community page on Facebook®. Feel free to add your own ideas here if you like.
Also, a word of caution – if you are a wife reading this, please do not send this page to your husband unsolicited.
Research by Shaunti Feldhahn, in her book, For Women Only, shows that men want romance, but often are uncertain as to how to go about it. They also already feel insecure about their abilities. Please do not add to your husband’s insecurities!
However, if he asks, here’s a list that might be of help to him. People that ask for advice are generally interested in taking it.
And before anyone takes me to task for “teaching a man,” please know that in the Bible, both Priscilla and Aquilla (a wife and her husband) helped Apollos understand a text more accurately after he preached it. I do not feel called to preach, by the way, so it is easy for me to not engage in this dialogue. There is a ton of controversy over it, but regardless of where you fit on the women teaching topic, suffice it to say that a single page on a blog simply does not equate to pulpit presentations and presiding over a church. Acts 18:26 says about Apollos, “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” And for what it is worth, sometimes being a good friend to your husband (“Phileo” love mentioned in Titus 2:3-4) means helping him figure a few things out.
A last word or two of caution for wives: we do not encourage you to read the list. It is fodder for discontent for you, if your husband is generally unloving. Even if he IS somewhat loving, you may be tempted to compare your husband to the mythical perfect man…which does not exist outside of a Disney movie. So stop here, ladies! If you read the list anyway, please do not be offended by anything you read. If you are different than the feedback we’ve received, please share with us at ninaroesner(at)GreaterImpact.org.
One last thing for husbands before the list… know that YOU and your opinions matter deeply to your wife. And the opinion that matters most to her is what you think of HER. She is wired differently than you – she needs (often deeply needs) daily affirmation and re-affirmation of her place in your heart. We know most men are fine with the “I love you” spoken to you on your wedding day, but women simply aren’t wired like that. We wonder, daily, whether you think we are fat, pretty, smart, competent, and whether you are still in love with us. Thirty years into our marriages, we STILL want to feel special to you. An anniversary card once a year just doesn’t communicate that.
In this day and age, more and more of the women we work with are having online affairs that often evolve into physical encounters. A smart husband will put some effort into keeping his wife feeling precious to him – think of it like building a fence around the sanctity of your marriage. Yes, it IS our sin if we stray, but you can do something to make it easier for us to keep our hearts at home. Just like your wife is not responsible for any pornography use of her husband, she can make it easier for him to not sin in that regard by staying fit and meeting her husband’s physical needs. Most of us ladies do not understand that thing about guys, either, but those of us who are wise are happy to keep you happy, whether we understand it or not. Won’t you do the same for us, but in a different area?
Ephesians 5:23 says,
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Our current culture (even those within the church) describe “head” as “in charge of” but that is not true. The word in the original Greek means literal “head.” It is used in reference mostly to decapitation and death. Yes, there is a hierarchy in marriage and men are held accountable for the family (check Genesis 2:18-24 and Genesis 3), yes wives are to submit to and respect their husbands – AND, you are called to “bring life” to your wife (as loss of the head implies loss of life).
Are you “bringing life” or death to your wife?
Your words and actions can do much in this area. Know too, that according to 1 Peter 3:7 the effectiveness of your prayers is actually at stake: Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers.
Your wife has probably already told you what speaks deeply to her heart. If you will but demonstrate love to her, removing her fears of position in your heart or security, you will both represent Christ and His church to the world.
5:28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 5:29 For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, 5:30 for we are members of his body. 5:31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 5:32 This mystery is great – but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 5:33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
101 Things A Husband Can Do to Show Love to His Wife:
- Take your forefinger and brush her hair out of her eyes behind her ear when listening to her. A gentle touch like this goes a long way.
- Gently rub the back of her neck or shoulders when seated next to her, unless she does not like that.
- Pay her a compliment daily about her character – women are wired to evaluate the state of their relationships on a daily, versus long-term, basis. Keep her confident in your care for her by paying her a compliment once a day. Say something like, “I was just admiring how you (insert something good here, like: keep going after a long day, show such tenderness to our kids, are so tidy in the kitchen, are so good with animals, are so giving of your time, are so organized, balance so many things, stay in such good shape, etc.) with so much on your plate. I think you are amazing!” Or end with, “I love how well you love us.”
- Do a daily devotional somewhat consistently. She deeply wants you to grow as a Christian man (this impacts her level of trust in your decisions).
- Let her know what God is teaching you once in a while.
- Switch your daily devotional out for The Love Dare twice a year, or better yet, sign up for the online app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-love-dare-40-dares/id319125405?mt=8 or do one dare a week from the book throughout the year. Repeat, changing things up just a bit to keep it interesting.
- Send a text message during the day – something like any of the following:
- Just thinking about U.
- Can’t wait 2 C U tonight.
- Just daydreaming about U.
- Thinking about UR lovely face & U made me (leave out the other body parts – it makes us feel more valuable to not talk about those! Most women also like to be told we are beautiful – and we deeply want to know that we are attractive to YOU)
- It was smart of you to (insert last money saving thing she did). Thank you!
- Looking forward to another one of your amazing dinners!
- Thinking about you… totally distracting me.
- Miss you. Like right now.
- I was remembering how we went (somewhere together that she enjoyed). That still makes me !
- Can’t wait to give you a big kiss when I get home.
- XOXO !!
- Doing okay?
- Leave her a voice mail when you know she is tied up or does not have her phone, something romantic like, “I just wanted to hear your voice.”
- Pick up after yourself.
- Clean out her car for her.
- After one of the kids’ performances or report cards, tell or text her, “I love how you pour yourself into our kids! Little Joey’s play last night was an example of that. He did better because you cheered him on.”
- If she is working out or trying to eat right and exercise, make sure you tell her how proud of her you are and how hard you know it is.
- Change the oil in her car, or do regular maintenance – it makes her feel taken care of by you.
- Lock up the house at night so she does not have to do it.
- Tuck your kids into bed, even if she does it, too. Research shows women view fathers who are involved with their children, favorably.
- If smoke or smells or noises bother her, protect her from them – blow out the candle in another room, don’t wear heavy cologne, don’t use heavy air fresheners in your car. Research shows women have more sensitive senses of smell, sight, and hearing than men.
- Make time on a regular basis to be with just her.
- Hold her hand in public.
- Kiss her in public, if she is okay with that. If she’s not, just put your arm around her waist. Chances are she will love others knowing she is loved.
- Pick up toys with the kids without being asked. She will appreciate “help” and not think you think she can’t handle things herself. She does not think like you do.
- Pull her hair back from the nape of her neck and kiss her there while she stands at the kitchen sink.
- Ask her to teach you how to do your little girl’s hair.
- Show her the photos you keep on your computer of your family. If you don’t have any, add some, then show her. Use one as a screen saver if you can.
- Call her name from across the room, then tell her, “I just wanted to see your lovely face.”
- Bring her a little gift once a month or so – even a single flower, her favorite candy bar, book, coffee, etc. and present it to her in a sweet way (maybe holding the flower out to her and saying, “This is nowhere near as pretty as you are, but it made me think of you anyway.”).
- Leave her a little note in her underwear drawer. Be classy with whatever you write.
- Hug her for no reason and with no motive every day. If you only touch her when you want sex, she will feel used and insignificant to you. When she feels like your treasure, your precious gem, she will be delighted more often, and work harder on her end of the relationship and her responsibilities. She will also trust you more, which means she will be less inhibited in the bedroom.
- Avoid pornography and teach your sons to do the same. If you are caught up in this, get free, or get help if you can’t. She would feel betrayed if she knew you looked at other women in any way.
- Be proactive about taking care of work around the house, the budget, and spending time with the family – every week. Make it a habit.
- Take her shopping and buy her a new outfit once in a while – or give her a gift card for a store and one for a nearby coffee shop for her and a friend, then watch the kids while she goes.
- Make sure she feels encouraged to update her wardrobe – frugal women can get by on $100 a year for clothes if they have a good quality base.
- Take her on a moon light walk. Compliment her and listen well. Hold her hand. Stop once in a while just to kiss her.
- If she ever gets mad enough to walk out, go after her. Tell her, “I can’t live without you. I’m sorry things escalated so much – come back. Let’s talk through this.”
- Hold her hand while you walk next to each other.
- Make dinner once a week (or more if you love doing that).
- Bring her a cup of tea or coffee in the morning sometimes.
- Ask her if she’ll do a devotion with you – even if it is an online one and you do it separately and you just ask her, “What did you get from today’s devotion?”
- Meet her after work somewhere for an inexpensive dinner once a week.
- Stroke or brush her hair.
- Take her hand at church during worship or prayer.
- Open doors for her.
- Notice when she has her arms full and say, “Here, let me get this for you!”
- Never go through a door first, or leave her behind you when you go somewhere.
- Help her with her coat.
- Don’t conduct male body grooming sessions where she can see, smell, or hear you.
- Switch off the phone or ignore it when you are together.
- Make eye contact with her when she is speaking to you.
- Replay back to her what you think she said – especially if she tells you she is hurting about something – especially if she thinks it is your fault.
- Say I’m sorry when you hurt her without explaining why you did it or why it is her fault.
- Hold her when she cries.
- Take a Sunday school class with her.
- Let her know verbally that she is any one of these things to you: precious, a treasure, special, important, a gift, the best…
- Hold her hand in the middle of the night.
- Ask her how her day went and really listen, asking questions.
- Wink at her across a room or via text.
- Deal with the kids one day a weekend, or get them ready for school.
- Be quiet when getting ready so she can get needed sleep (women actually need more than men).
- Let her get a nap.
- Give her a kiss after holding her car door open for her.
- Leave her a note if you leave before she does that just tells her she’s special to you.
- Smile at her. A lot.
- Smile at your kids. A lot.
- Gently but firmly stand up for her with your kids.
- Don’t criticize her in front of the kids – it undermines her authority.
- There are some things that you will need to stand firm on – be sure you have prayed about these things and let her know this and that you feel led to make the decision. If you feel led by God, do not give in to her.
- Ask her to pray for you about what you are going through.
- Ask her what she thinks – and really consider it, especially when it comes to relationships and kids. She sees, hears, and picks up on subtle cues more than you do – if you are both average male and female, so says the research.
- Rub her feet. Tell her you think she has beautiful toes. Feel free to nibble on them, unless she does not like it.
- Make a list of 30 little things you did while dating and put them on your calendar each year to do again.
- Pick her up off her feet and swing her around once in a while.
- Dance with her when there is no music. When she lets you know this, tell her you always hear music when you are together.
- Take care of yourself physically by staying in (or getting in) shape and seeing the doctor. She worries about your health.
- Get control of your anger, if you struggle with it. When she is afraid of you, it destroys your relationship.
- Ask her if you drink, if you drink too much. Then listen. Take action if she says, “yes.”
- Bring her chicken soup if she’s sick. Better yet, take the day off if you can to let her sleep and you take care of her and the kids.
- Ask her to find you a highly rated book on being a better dad or husband – then read it and implement what you read.
- When she seems angry (does not mean she is, btw) and says something sarcastic or hurtful or disrespectful to you, gently take her hands in yours and say, “Honey, I know you didn’t mean that. I can see you are hurting. Let’s talk about this. I want to understand.”
- Offer to take the baby when he is fussy or sick so she can rest. Make sure you do not allow him to cry, or put him in front of the tv, but rather interact with him.
- Help her know how to teach you how to do baby care by saying, “I’m not real good at this, but I want to learn. Can you watch me do it and just coach me so I can practice?”
- Tell or text to her that she is a good mom – and be specific about something she did that brings that to light.
- Tell or text to her that she is a good wife and that you’d be lost without her.
- Ask her if there’s anything you can do for her this weekend.
- Learn her love language (or ask her if you cannot figure it out) and do a little research on how to show love to someone who is that language. Make a list of 50 neat things you could do for her – ask her for help if you need to.
- Pray for and with her.
- Nibble on her earlobe when you greet her while giving her a hug.
- Nuzzle her neck when hugging her.
- Hug her from behind when she is standing at the sink or changing table.
- Carry the laundry baskets upstairs for her without being asked.
- Always thank her for making dinner and find something to compliment about the meal.
- Run your finger along her jawline, starting at her ear, brush her lips, then down her neck to her collarbone, and stop at her shoulder.
- Using your finger, lift her head with her chin, and brush her lips gently with yours.
- Use breath mints frequently – and deodorant. Peppermint oil on the tongue is an inexpensive long lasting solution, also.
- Offer to drive the kids where they need to go on the weekend.
- Stare at her until she notices. When she asks you what you are doing, say something like, “I just can’t get over how gorgeous you are.”
- Insist that she takes time to read a book, spend time with her girlfriends, or whatever else fills her up.
- Buy her a little jewelry item for no reason – unless she is not into jewelry.
- If she has a hobby, even one that does not include you, get her a little gift that supports it.
- If her shoes are scuffed, polish them for her without saying anything. It might take her a little while to notice, especially if she is a working busy mom.
- When she complains, empathize. Saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry! That must be hard for you. Is there anything I can do to help?”
- Take her out to dinner. After you are seated, make extended eye contact with her. Say something like, “You are the most stunning woman in the room tonight.”
- Tell or text her, “I’m so glad you are our kids’ mom. You really know them.”
- Dip her backwards next time you kiss her.
- Go to bed when she does. Don’t always watch tv, but talk to her and maybe even pray with her instead.
- If she complains about herself, take her by the shoulders and say something like, “Look at me. That’s not true. You are lovely. You are worthy. You are highly valued by God and me. No more lies.” Then kiss her gently.
- Continue doing these things until they become habits. Commit to continuing to grow as a husband and don’t stop trying to communicate love to your wife. She needs it daily. Like you need respect. Like you both need air.
Ephesians 5:33 tells us, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
What communicates “I love you” to your wife? Don’t know? ASK her. Want to score some quick “points?” Try, “Honey, I’m so sorry I’ve hurt you over the years. I have struggled with how to love you well. Please forgive me. I want to try to do better. I love you – will you give me another chance?”
Then change. Because apology with change is a reflection of high integrity. Apology without change is, well, not. And keep your eyes on YOUR behavior, and not hers, avoiding the sin of judgment. She has her own walk with God. Chances are she’s working on it, too.
Dare ya to then do these things. It will make a huge difference in your relationship.
Love to you, in Him,