Marriage is hard and that’s why the divorce rate has remained around 50% for so many years. However, as a wife, YOU have a POWERFUL influence over your marriage. So many of us fall into ruts that negatively weigh down our marriage. Here are 3 guiding principles to becoming a better wife.
Here are 3 Guiding Principles to Becoming a Better Wife
No relationship is dependent on a single person’s actions. However, each individual person has SIGNIFICANT influence over a relationship. Sometimes, in order to have a better marriage, you have to start with bettering yourself.
Here are 3 guiding principles to becoming a better wife:
- Understand How Men and Women Operate Differently
- Choose to Thrive Versus Divide
- Allow Your Husband to Lead
Although these principals sound simple, they’re not. Each is dynamic and full of subjective interpretation. At the same time, each of these has a simplistic truth, that at its core, will help you to understand marriage and your role within it.
3 Guiding Principles to Becoming a Better Wife
1. Understand How Men and Women Operate Differently
The difference between love and respect
Men and women are biologically and physiologically different and, in being so, process and respond to life’s experiences differently. If you haven’t heard of his work, Emerson Eggerichs has a fantastic program called Love and Respect, in which he lays out the differences in our core needs:
Women need love.
Whereas, men have a deep need for respect.
This does not mean they don’t need the other component as well, but it’s the priority of their needs that is key.
To put it into perspective, consider this study that Emerson references:
“we asked 7,000 people this question, “When you are in conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected?” 83% of the men said they felt disrespected and 72% of the women said they felt unloved.”
Thus, the difference between the need for love versus the need for respect.
From a woman’s view
For example, when you’re communicating and interacting with your husband, understand that he’s going to respond differently than your women friends. This is because he’s looking at life through his “blue sunglasses”, based off of his masculine characteristics and need for respect.
For instance, if you ask your husband how his day is and he seems short with you by answering, “fine”. Don’t take offense to that. He’s not being unloving. He’s responding as a man. Men are “to the point” communicators. If it was good, they’ll say good. If it was stressful, they’ll say that.
If you were to ask another female, they would likely give you a full rundown of their day – the highlights and challenges – and that’s because of our female nature. We’re more descriptive and relationship oriented.
From a man’s view
On the opposite end, your husband lets you know he’s made a decision to do x, y, or z. Instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s thought this decision through and carefully considered how it would impact all stakeholders, you immediately put his leadership skills on trial, asking a line of questions.
Your husband might immediately feel defeated by the response, like he can’t do anything right, when that’s not your end goal. You want to understand how changes will impact the household, children, schedules, etc.
Men and women are different. We operate differently and have different needs prioritized.
In both of these instances, you can see how something simple can turn into a war, purely through misunderstanding. In the Love and Respect series, this is called the “crazy cycle”.
2. Choose to Thrive Versus Divide
Emerson frequently refers to the “crazy cycle” that marriages can get on. Maybe you’re on this right now. This is when the wife feels unloved so she acts disrespectful towards the husband. Feeling disrespected, the husband acts less loving towards the wife. The cycle continues – spinning out of control.
How do you stop the crazy cycle?
You meet the need of respect for your husband, like now, even before your need for love has been met. Wives, the best thing we can do is take a step back and put some respect back into the marriage. I know that some will immediately push back on this saying, “why respect a man that doesn’t deserve it?” I get this. However, someone has to stop the cycle. Being that you have no control over your spouse – it starts with you.
What’s a realistic example of the crazy cycle?
Using a personal example, my husband came home after a long business trip. While he was gone, I worked tirelessly keeping the household running by myself, not to mention taking care of our son. When he got home and after our “hello’s” he said, “oh, I see you didn’t get around to doing….”
Do I need to explain how that made me feel? No, I don’t, because you already know! Immediately, I was filled with anger and resentment.
But, I had to pause and process this, before I acted out in disrespect.
The choice to thrive versus divide
After catching my breath, I knew that he wasn’t trying to be unloving. He’s still in “work” mode. He’s just gotten home, ready to hit the ground running to catch up on his home duties, still feeling pressure from work, etc.
He wasn’t discounting everything I did, he was just caught up in trying to grasp his to do list. He’s a man – action oriented and looking for problems to solve. It just so happens that in the process of doing this, he totally ran over my feelings by not reading my mind and giving me the pat on my back that I was so looking forward to.
So instead of acting in disrespect, I said, “no, I haven’t gotten to that yet. I know you just got home, but I would really like your help doing that. I’ve been really busy with everything else.”
His response, “yeah, no problem. Everything looks great. Thanks for taking care of everything while I was gone. I really appreciate that.”
Do you see how this could have gone in a VERY different direction? But, because I’ve educated myself on the differences between men and women, we had a great greeting and was able to have a great rest of the day. It’s hard to be the first one to act, but it’s better than the alternative of letting things spiral out of control.
3. Allow Your Husband to Lead
Continuing with teaching from Emerson Eggerichs, he says,
“In Ephesians 5:21 we read of mutual submission: “be subject to one another.” Paul then goes on to instruct wives to submit to their husbands (5:22-24) and husbands to love their wives (5:25-29). He then summarizes the passage on marriage in 5:33 with the command for husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands.”
“If a wife’s submission is central, why does Paul say nothing of submission in his summary verse, calling wives instead to respect their husbands? Simple. A wife submits by meeting her husband’s need for respect. A husband submits to—or is “subject to”—his wife’s need for love.”
What does this mean?
This points to the heart of the different needs for love and respect for women and men, respectively. This is essentially outlining that women can meet their husbands need for respect by submitting to him. A lot of women cringe at hearing the word “submit” and it’s because they fail to understand the context of which it was written.
Unlike the perception of “submission”, this is not to be used in an oppressed or lesser-than way. God is very specific in saying that man and woman are BOTH created in God’s image. Neither is lesser than.
Rather, God knows how he designed man and woman – think back to the pink and blue sunglasses.
Applying this to marriage
Men are wired to lead. They are wired to provide. Even in the Garden of Eden, God specifically called out to Adam that he would spend his life in toil. This is a man’s charge. But, a man will withdraw when emasculated and disrespected. When he doesn’t feel needed or like he can’t do anything right, he’ll stonewall, no longer meeting his wife’s need for love.
Submitting to your husband is allowing him to lead in these areas. No, he won’t always be perfect and neither will you. But, he deserves the chance to lead and perfect the duty that’s been placed on him.
Just as your husband has his strengths and charges, you have yours. God made woman as “suitable helper” for man. That is our role. We help create and nurture a life and a family with our spouse. Don’t squander your purposes by being distracted with competitions of who does what. Yes, you can do everything your husband can do. The beauty of a partnership is you can both excel yourself as individuals, as well as a family, when you split the work according to your strengths. So let your husband lead in the areas he’s called to lead in. That is how to submit and give him his need for respect.
Watch this overview of Love and Respect. Then, visit Emerson’s website for more resources.