Terrell and I spent our first week of marriage in the mountains of Arkansas at a secluded bed and breakfast.
When we said “I do,” we entered the marriage classroom and spent the first 168 hours figuring out the course syllabus. We studied each other under the microscope of love and got quite an education.
When he carried me across the threshold of our first apartment in the heart of Texas, I saw wedding presents waiting for us under our tiny Christmas tree. We laughed and marveled that we were grown-ups as we opened blenders and soup pots. As the sun set on our first day together in our home, we readied for bed.
The Reality of Married Life Sets In
The bedroom furniture his parents gifted us for our wedding hadn’t arrived yet, so we slept double in a single bed that first night. At first, it sounded romantic, returning from our honeymoon and cozying up in a tiny bed made for one. I imagined us tangled in sheets continuing the honeymoon.
But in reality, it was cramped, uncomfortable and not romantic at all.
Though our honeymoon didn’t exactly end on that twin bed, we did opt for comfort and sleep over sex that first night in our home. It was a dose of married life reality. I’ve had 18 years with this man since that week in Arkansas, and it’s been filled with wonder, beauty, and kids in the bed.
What Husbands Really Want
When wives think about what our husbands really want, we typically say sex. And don’t get me wrong, that is what they want, but I’ll get to that in a bit. I feel like I’m at the university level in this marriage thing, and I’m convinced that’s not all they want or need from us.
1. Husbands want respect.
Marriages can’t thrive happily without it. It’s not only something that makes a husband feel like a man, but it’s also a biblical mandate. Ephesians 5:33 explains, “The wife is to respect her husband.”
But what does this really mean?
During our first year of marriage, Terrell and I lived a long distance from our families. We spent Thanksgiving Day with another couple in our church, mainly because I didn’t know how to cook a turkey. I was already homesick, but nothing could have prepared me for the way the wife treated her husband in front of us. With every insult, she joked and laughed. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and I determined I wouldn’t disrespect my husband in front of others.
I could fill a page telling you all the things respect isn’t, but I’d rather give you tangible ways to show your husband the respect he craves (and in return it will create a desire for him to love you fully).
- Pray for your man. Let him overhear his name on your lips as you ask God to help your husband be the leader of your home.
- Listen to him. Don’t decide for him. Give your husband a chance to share his heart.
- Praise and compliment him in front of others, especially children and family. Correcting or attacking him in public destroys respect. Watch your tongue.
- Expect great things from your husband. Encourage him as often as you can.
- Tell him you respect him. Text it, write it in a letter, or whisper it in his ear. Your man needs to hear your affirming words.
2. Husbands want trust.
I’m a self-admitted type-A control freak. Thankfully, Jesus is working on me. I like control. I like for things to go my way. I like clean rooms and orderly behavior. All of this is laughable since God often puts me in circumstances I can’t control. My husband and I noticed early in our marriage that this is an area of discord between us. My need for control stems from my lack of trust.
Ten years into our marriage, Terrell broke my trust. As we healed and tried to move on, he wanted me to trust him again, but I was terrified of being hurt. I learned during that season that my trust belongs to Christ. He’s the only One who will never let me down. Terrell isn’t perfect, and we both let each other down, but we cling to 1 Corinthians 13:7, which affirms, “[Love] believes all things.” You can build trust in your marriage, too.
- Trust is a reaction to love. It’s a by-product of and key to a healthy marriage.
- “There is no fear in love” It may be difficult for you to trust because you’re afraid, but “Do not fear” is a command mentioned repeatedly throughout the Bible.
- The illusion of control is just that — an illusion. You don’t control your life, your circumstances, or your children’s choices. You shouldn’t try to control your husband’s either. Instead, replace control with trust.
- Alter expectations. You’re married to a human. He will let you down. Put your faith in God, and He will restore your trust in your spouse.
- Trust comes through forgiveness. If you hold something against your husband, forgive him. You need to forgive yourself, too.
3. Husbands want peace.
When I asked Terrell what made him feel loved, he said peace. I was confused. How could I give him what so many seek? He laughed and explained, “No, peace as in quiet.” Well, considering the crazy dinner and arguing kids by whom we were surrounded, I put that on my wish list, too.
I swallowed guilt. Some days when Terrell walks in from an exhausting 12-hour day, I unleash every woe and trifle on him before he has a chance to kiss me hello. I’ve been holding down the fort with complaining kids and muddy pets, and I see him as a reprieve. My husband is awesome at home where he handles school projects and bedtime prayers. I have no room for complaint.
And I know my husband wasn’t only referring to our chaotic family time. He was referring to the battles, often not worth fighting, I pick with him and our children. (I’m a passionate control freak, remember?)
Although I can’t guarantee quiet, I know I can offer him a little more peace. So can you.
- Pray for peace in your home and in your lives.
- Greet each other after a long day of work. Stop what you’re doing to give him your full attention for at least a minute.
- Give your mate five minutes of peace to unwind and adjust to the change of hats.
- Get your children involved. I recently sat my kids down and told them their dad needs five minutes to unwind when he gets home.
- Before unloading your list of items to discuss, ask your spouse for an appropriate time to talk.
4. Husbands want intimacy.
When I entered that marriage classroom so many years ago, I didn’t understand man’s physical need for sex.
I got the CliffsNotes version after some hard lessons. Since then, I’ve learned that my husband not only wants sex, he has a physical need for it that only I can meet. It’s the way God created men, and if wives constantly deny husbands, it creates havoc in every area of marriage.
We often hear jokes about men and sex, and our culture certainly makes light of the sacred covenant that God intended for marriage. But it’s at the root of so many marriage struggles.
Terrell often says that sex is a reset button for him. It’s that moment in life when everything is OK. He feels respected, he feels trusted, and he’s at complete peace with God and me.
So, though sex is just one facet of marriage, it can shift the health of your union when it’s not made a consistent priority.
- Read Shaunti Feldhahn’s book For Women Only (Multnomah).
- Acknowledge your husband’s physical need for intimacy, not just his want.
- Don’t give up on your sex life. If intimacy is an area of struggle in your marriage, seek the help of a trusted Christian counselor.
- Protect your home and marriage from lust and pornography. It’s rampant. Be vigilant against this enemy.
- Kevin Leman’s adage that “sex begins in the kitchen” is true. There’s nothing hotter than treating each other well all day long, which will greatly improve intimacy.
Article previously posted at http://www.lifeway.com