Valentine’s Day is coming, and here’s one way to love your wife. She may say she wants a card, or flowers, or candy, or a gift – but she’s not telling you what she really wants. What she really wants is a new kind of man. And you’re the only one who can give it to her.
Loving a woman well, over decades, remains elusive to me. I’ve been married over 25 years, and I’m still learning who my wife is and what she really wants from me. Over the years I’ve watched a few men model giving a woman what she wants, and needs, and loves. I’ve watched them give “a new kind of man” to their woman every Valentine’s Day – and every day in between.
The following is what I’ve seen these men do, and is the information I needed over a quarter of a century ago when I said “I do.” In a day when TV and movies teach us much self-absorbed love, how to build romance over a 2-week-to-2-year period, and how to dismantle any hope for long-term intimacy one pre-marital sex moment at a time – we need some fresh ideas. Every marriage is different, but I’ve learned that anything I’ve learned related to the principles below can only help.
Try giving the following “New Kind Of Man” gifts to your girl this Valentine’s Day, and keep giving them for at least 3 months. Note if changes occur in her only then, and keep giving the gifts she seems to like the most. The reality is, some of these gifts and the response you hope to get from her may take over 30 years of giving before you see results. Sorry. It’s just true.
But that shouldn’t stop us, because we might see results today – results that beautify, strengthen, and empower your wife to be the woman she is designed to be.
Love Your Wife
As I said, women are very different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work all the time. But there are principles that apply across the board. Read these, husbands, and then break them down into practical ways you can express them to your wife.
1. Be Her Healing
Accept that your vocation is to love her to life, to speak her to wholeness, to support her to joy. Accept that she is the greatest gift you will ever receive, and begin to see her as a fragile, yet strong treasure to be held in the highest regard.
If you can begin to see that you are the most influential person that she will ever have in her life, you will realize that every moment is an opportunity to heal her as you speak to her, hold her, tend to her, and listen to her heart. All women carry some challenges of the heart from their upbringing, self-views, and inner questions. The reality is, you want to enjoy your marriage 20 years from now. So does she. That will happen one step at a time, and the first is you seeing yourself as her healer in the areas she needs support.
Speak kindly, even when she does not. Let her tears and expressed frustration speak to you, teach you, and move you to action. Being a healer is not about fixing everything; it is about tending to the wounds as they reveal themselves.
In many ways, all the following ideas fall under this first one.You have to choose a healing approach to her; it will not come naturally. You will need to become the central source of her emotional healing as you allow God to help her through you. She’ll need other female friends for some things, but as far as you’re concerned, you must become her best friend. It all starts here.
2. Verbally Appreciate Her – Without Restraint
Speak about how valuable she is to you until you think she’s tired of hearing it. Then, keep doing it. Every day. Over and over. Use texts. Say it in phone calls. Thank her for anything she does around the house, with the brief words, “I really appreciate that you…” or “I am so grateful for you….”
For many men I meet, this doesn’t come naturally. When they tell me this is hard for them, my only answer is, “Who cares? Do it anyway. You go to work. You eat dinner. You remember the game is on or that appointment must happen. Just do it. All the time. Till you wonder if she thinks you’re being genuine. Just keep doing it. It has to happen if you want sweetness and joy to enter the equation.”
3. Approach Her With Dignity
Approach your wife with kindness and devotion, in a way that makes her feel like you respect her space. How you approach this women is everything; she has to believe that when you see her you respect her, appreciate her, and see her as a high and holy creature.
Here are the straight goods, my fellow husbands. Approaching her with lust, or a demanding demeanor, diminishes intimacy. Even if there has been distance between you, she needs to know, be convinced, that you are the safest place on earth. When she is convinced of that, things may change. If she’s very broken related to intimacy, then your job over the next decade is cut out for you. She must believe you place her in the highest esteem. Only then can anything begin to change.
Stare at her, and when she asks why, innocently say “Because you’re beautiful.” No neediness in your eyes. Just say it, and move on. Look away, and keep doing what you’re doing. Leave that simmer over days; don’t expect favors that night. Every woman needs to believe she is beautiful to someone. Be that man who convinces her over days, weeks, months, years, and decades.
4. Be Ready To Die For Her, Every Moment
Here’s the real deal. I married my wife. She married me. When we said our vows, we didn’t know what we do today. We did say that divorce was not an option in our wedding exchange, and sometimes our younger selves are smarter than our older selves. We’re glad we said that to this day.
We don’t always like each other. But like you, I’ve chosen to live my life outside of my own self, and my own self-absorption. Marriage is a training ground. So is parenting. I may have to die to what I need over and over again today. I may need to stop dreaming, and just work at my job. I may need to stop talking about the next thing I want to do, and start talking about the next thing she wants to do.
I may need to plan ahead, and stop half-baked attempts to give her gifts or take care of the things that are really important to her. I may need to do all of this even though it is the hardest thing in the world for me to do.
5. See Her As A Mirror Of You
This one will hurt, and you may not buy it, but that’s okay. Rather then assuming her attitudes are all her fault, all her fear, all her brokenness, or all her problem or issue – decide to see her challenges as having something to do with the way you are treating her.
Men, please swallow hard with me at this point, and just listen to me. Let me even be wrong for a moment, as I might say something that catches something in you. Even if you think it’s not your fault that she acts the way she does, assume that you have power to heal her with your love. Assume you can do something about it. Assume that she needs more of something from you than she is currently getting. Even if that is not completely true, you will get somewhere if you start here.
My wife and I are both shocked at how broken we can be. Our self-awareness is not always high, and we see the faults in the other as glaring and obvious to the world. But the reality is, that awareness fixes very little. I assume that when my wife is angry for no apparent reason, or afraid, or in inner turmoil, that I have the power to heal her. What I don’t mean is that I can fix her immediately. What I do mean is that she can see in me the tenderness in me, acceptance, safe place, and faith-rooted man that she needs.
If I can get beyond my own self-absorption, I can heal her over decades and decades of marriage. I can’t fix her – but I can work with God in her healing.
6. Pray For Her Every Night
I lean this way. I have a job to do as a husband, and God is going to give me the strength I need to do it. God is not going to do it all; I need to take the lead. In silence, every night, as you lie beside her in bed, pray for her. Do it. Don’t forget.
Every once in awhile, if this fits your marriage, ask her if you can pray for her out loud. For some men, this is way out of your grid or comfort zone. As far as silent prayer goes, do it anyway. As far as anything else goes, convince her that you are pre-occupied with how much God loves her, and how you can pray her through to the next stage of strength she needs to overcome her inner battles.
Full stop – some men give lip service to praying for their wife. I found that I’m not fooling God. My explicit, verbalized prayers for my wife seem to have effect, over time. My “I’m sort of doing it” prayers do not. God knows if I’m turning my energies into praying for my wife, and seems to respond to that real commitment.
There’s no need to be perfect in this, just consistent and “her-benefit-focused.”
7. Give Her The Gifts She Wants
Now we come to the chocolate, the cards, and the flowers. On Valentine’s Day, her birthday, First-Day-Of-Spring Day, Christmas, Middle-Of-Summer Day, Date Nights, Turn-The-Clock-Back-An-Hour Day, your anniversary, and Just-Because-I-Treasure-You Day – give her gifts.
Give her not what you want to give her, but what she wants you to give her. Keep a memo on your smart phone called “My Wife’s Gifts,” and take notes every time she mentions that restaurant, those snack items, that store, or that flower.
Giving good gifts means you must become a student of your wife. Become that student.
A New Kind of Man for Valentine’s Day
This costs time, energy, and attention. Spend all three of these on her? Over the long trajectory of your marriage, I believe you’ll see growing benefits in your friendship, intimacy, enjoyment as a married couple, and grow to really love your wife.
It’s hard to be this kind of man, but I still set it as my goal. Who knows, maybe she’ll read the article my wife will write one day learning how she can give you herself as a “new kind of woman” to you, and the Valentine’s joy will grow.
There’s nothing here we can’t do, men, though it will take us right to the edge of ourselves for a very long time. I am convinced that only God can help us do it, and help us to raise young men who can do the same.
If you love your wife, for this Valentine’s Day, and the year to follow, give her a new kind of man.
This article on how to love your wife originally appeared here, and is used by permission.