My first post in this Practically Leading your Wife Series encouraged all of us to stay in the Gospel of Jesus. Your best isn’t good enough, your love isn’t strong enough to make for a good marriage. But God’s love is. The Gospel is not something you graduate out of but is like a great diamond – millions of facets all looking into the same reality. My second post dealt with our pretend “kingdom” versus God’s actual Kingdom in our everyday lives. Stop listening to your heart and begin speaking to your heart with the truth of God’s word in your marriage. You and I are not to be trusted, but God is. My third post started to get into the practical outworking of these spiritual truths and gave you resources to use if you are in a struggle, fight, or if your marriage is in trouble. I gave you some resources and advice on how to begin to deal with your everyday marriage questions, issues, and concerns.
This final post continues in this way to give you biblical, practical, everyday advice and application that is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope it blesses and helps you. Know this – simply dating, surprising, and romancing your wife does nothing unless your actions and heart are rooted in true Gospel love, which is transformational and sacrificial. This list below is an outworking of love once your heart is aligned with God’s heart. You don’t do these things to keep your wife from complaining or to try to make up for something. If we are truly in a relationship with God, we want to PLEASE Him. If our hearts are truly transformed by the matchless grace of God in Christ, our hearts are softened and we WANT to please God. Does that make sense? Love compells us. This idea is expressed in Galatians 1:10, Proverbs 29:25, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9, and so on. True transformation begins and ends with the Gospel of Jesus Christ taking hold of your life and changing you first. Surely you can love your wife sacrificially, selflessly, and with great hope once you see and experience Jesus’ love toward you demonstrated in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. He sacrificed Himself for us because we could not save ourselves. His selflessness is displayed in taking up the cross for us when we deserved to die. He did not demand His rights, but laid them down.
So, with that in mind, let’s end our series on Practically Leading and Loving your Wife.
Learn about your wife. Study her. Become a student of your wife.
What are her favorite foods, snacks, candies, flowers, movies, bands, restaurants…?
- How does she receive love? What does she like and what doesn’t she like? What does she respond to and appreciate?
- Communication, physical touch, acts of service, gifts, etc.? Learn what she likes and appreciates, and then DO them!
When are the best times to surprise her, serve her, love her, and encourage her? My wife is not a morning person, so I try not to drop any surprises too early in the morning. Is your wife tired when she comes home from work? Maybe you could get home early, have a bath ready for her, and be working on dinner. Find ways to serve and surprise her. Find ways to communicate that you love her, that you desire to serve her, and that you want to sacrifice your time, comfort, and selfishness to love her.
Leading your wife is all-encompassing!
You must lead in all areas of your marriage. You need to initiate and follow through in these areas:
- Pursuit of holiness – Are you pursuing the Lord?
- Prayer – Do you pray together and separately?
- Reading the Word – Do you read the Bible together? Are you asking your wife to read with you?
- Encouraging – Are your words sweet and encouraging, or are they sarcastic, mean, dismissive, rude, or discouraging? Are you taking the lead to speak sweetly to your wife? Are you writing notes, e-mails, and sweet words to tell her you love her?
- Communication – Do you talk about your lives together? Your struggles, fears, hopes, pain? Is there a safe place within your marriage to openly, honestly, and safely communicate?
- Money – Are you actively finding ways to budget your money wisely and be charitable?
- Work – Do you have a job and are you providing for your family?
- Cleaning the house – This must not be all left to your wife. You need to be active in this. Are you asking her how you can help clean the house?
- Sex – Your sex life has huge implications for your marriage and is an outworking of your love for one another. It is so much more than a physical act.
- Food – Are you helping cook and clean? Are you active in the kitchen, or are you leaving it all to your wife?
- Children – Are you actively leading in the care and love of your children? Don’t just assume she will take care of the “female” things and you’ll take care of the “male” things. From the spiritual, to the physical, to the practical, you must lead out lovingly with your children.
Ask your wife how you can lead better
Tell her you love her and you want to hear how you can serve her and love her better. You would be amazed at how many husbands do not ask their wives for their opinions, ideas, preferences, and thoughts. Ask your wife things you don’t know about her. Ask your wife for her opinions and ideas. Communicate with her lovingly and listen. Look, I know that if you are in a difficult spot in your marriage, this may seem like an invitation for your wife to verbally beat you up, but you even if that happens, can you love and serve your wife? Remember, we love because He first loved us. Listen to what she has to say.
Then SERVE HER. Jesus was a servant, and therefore you should be too. When you ask your wife for her ideas and preferences and she gives them to you, put a plan in place! Listen to her and then act.
In order to listen to your wife, you need to practice some practical steps:
- Be Organized and Prepared! Write down when your wife says something she:
- Wants to do
- Has wanted to buy. (Little gifts she has her eye on are a great surprise and they tell her you are listening.)
Keep a running list. Keep your eyes and ears open for ways to serve and surprise your wife.
2. Write down restaurants, date ideas, places to travel, etc.
- Pay attention
- Listen to your wife.
- Be sensitive to her needs
- Put her needs before your own.
- Love her more than you love yourself.
- Serve your wife. Go out of your way to bless her, serve her, put her needs/wants/preferences before your own.
- Look to Jesus as your example of love.
3. Be prepared
- Know when special occasions are happening
- Write down/iPhone alerts on date nights, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.
- Have a date planned for these events.
- Always have an alternate plan if a date idea or plan falls through.
Ask God how you can lead and love better. So often we rest on our best ideas and thoughts, but we need to hear from God. Often we do not know what we need but He does. Seek for God’s wisdom in loving and leading your wife.
Practical Resources for Date Ideas in the Dallas area
Local Art Events/Venues/Museums – http://www.theflashlist.com/dallas/arts/index.html
Free/Cheap/Creative Dinner Dates – http://www.theflashlist.com/dallas/dining/index.html
Free/Cheap/Creative Events – http://www.theflashlist.com/dallas/events/index.html
Music Events – http://www.theflashlist.com/dallas/music/index.html
Romantic Dates – http://www.theflashlist.com/dallas/romance/index.html
Creative ideas – http://www.theflashlist.com/dallas/romance/ideas/index.html
Good dates for all occasions – http://www.niftydateideas.com/,
Books/Bible studies to read together
C.J. Mahaney, What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know http://books.google.com/books?id=10CHaL6J_8AC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect?
Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Andrew Case, Water of the Word for Her
C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Devotionals http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/morneve.today.html
John Piper, This Momentary Marriage
I hope this helps you. The point of all of this is not to give you lists to do but to give you ideas on how you can love, serve, and lead your wife from your heart. You need to WANT to love, serve, and lead your wife well. That’s the catch. What is your motivation? Are you doing these things because you know you should do them, or because you want to do them? That is an issue of prayer.
All of this is to make us feel the weight and impossibility of loving, serving, and leading our wives like Christ leads us, and therefore pressing us toward Jesus for all of this. We need Him. We can only love because He loves us first. Seek Him for help, guidance, repentance, strength, and the ability to lead your wife. Ask Him for help. Seek Him in prayer and fasting. God is faithful to hear your prayers and respond.