We all know that encouraging our spouse is beneficial. We can lift each other up, boost each others moods, make the weight of the day a little lighter. And ladies, have you ever had that moment when you put extra effort into your appearance for an evening out and your date doesn’t seem to notice? Wouldn’t a “Wow, you look beautiful!” change your world at that moment?
Well today I want to give you all some things to think about and ponder with me. Maybe there are some areas that you haven’t thought about as a prime candidate for encouragement. We’ll also check out a couple verses that are great to help us unlock some of the ways we can encourage and that act as great reminders to do so.
First of all, I am approaching this subject from the viewpoint of MARRIAGE. This material may be super helpful for lots of people and areas, but the focus is on a romantic husband-wife relationship. So for that reason, let’s review a what really makes that relationship tick and work right from a Biblical perspective.
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”[c] 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:31-33 (NLT)
Now, I would highly recommend you go ahead and read the rest of this passage, specifically Ephesians 5:21-33. But for now we are going to focus in on the love and respect aspect. The man is commanded to love his wife as he loves himself, and the woman is commanded to respect her husband. So this would mean that God designed men to respond to respect, and for women to respond to love. If that’s the case, we just got a huge tip on how to best encourage and lift up our spouse.
Guys? Reaffirm your love for your wife. Tell her how much you love her, Do and say loving things. Things that show you cherish her and she is precious to you.
What is this kind of love? The greek word used is agapatō. Which when referring to a person means “to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.” And it is to be done in the manner that you would “agapatō” your self. The word’s root form, agape, is consistently translated love, but not the romantic love (eros) or brotherly love (phileo).
“The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love…Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13.” – “What is agape love?” by GotQuestions.org
This love is the love with which Christ loved the church. It is sacrificial and not dependent on the other persons actions. Yes, we are both to love each other this way, but it is a foundational responsibility for the man, and a… almost language with which to effectively communicate his devotion to his spouse. Your wife is designed to respond to that kind of love.
Girls? Reaffirm your respect for your husband. This gets a little more awkard because it may be weird to just say, “I respect you.”
If you look at the Websters Definition of “Respect” you will find this:
- a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
- a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way
- a particular way of thinking about or looking at something
The Greek word used is phobētai. Forms of the root of this word (phobeomai) are usually translated elsewhere as either to fear, to be awestruck, to revere, and to marvel. (Fear is the most common Biblical translation, with a reverent fear being frequent. This does not mean we are to fear our husbands in our English definition of fear, but rather that we are to have a reverent awe that takes our husbands seriously. Sounds similar to how we are to “Fear God” with a sense of respect. Which makes sense since marriage is a picture of Christ, the groom, and the church, his bride.)
So, we could rephrase this to: admire your husband, and treat him like he is good, valuable, important, to be taken seriously. Listen to him. That makes a little more sense, right? And just like with the guys, yes, this is supposed to go both ways, but it is a foundational responsibility for the woman, and a specific way to communicate your affection and devotion to your spouse. Your husband is designed to respond to that kind of respect.
Now, we could cut this article short and just say, “Guys, make sure your wife knows you love her. Think about ways to make her feel and experience your love. And girls, make sure your husband knows you respect him. Think about ways to make him feel and experience your respect.” But personally I am a huge fan of practical applications. So get out of your head for a moment with me and let’s think about how we can actually do this. Suggestions are organized by areas of life in which you can practice your agape love and your phobētai respect. As a heads up, everything in these categories could apply to either spouse, however I have attempted to categorize them.
I hope that you know that I write this not from a place of accomplishment, but of encouragement. I am preaching to the choir here folks! I suck at a ton of these things, but I am striving daily to be better at them. One more tip before we dive in: why not begin by sitting down with your hubby or wifey, and asking them about how to make them feel these things.
Ask your spouse:
- What are 3 things I could do to make you feel more loved/respected?
- What is something I could stop doing, because it makes you feel unloved/disrespected?
- What is something you wish I did more often because it makes you feel so loved/respected?
Practical Ways to Love Your Wife
Women need constant reminders that you really do love them, that you are there, that you aren’t leaving, and that what you say is really true, not just a bunch of words. They want to be your princess, that most precious thing that you pay special attention to because it captivates you.
- Reassure her that you will always love her. Do this often and do this verbally.
- Make sure that you take time to get to know exactly who she is, so she knows for sure that she is the one you love, exactly the way that she is.
- Lead her. Take the first step toward God in every situation. Be a man who seeks after God in a way that she can follow, and…
- Let her know what you think! Share your feelings and thoughts with her.
- Hold her. Sometimes women just need to be held. (Don’t get me wrong though, guys need this too!)
- Surprise her. Surprises let her know that you love her so much that you were thinking about her in advance.
- Text her throughout the day if you can, just to remind her that she matters and is on your mind.
- Tell her what your favourite part of her body is. Show your appreciation.
- Verbally notice her. It’s one thing not to notice your wife’s new haircut. It’s another thing to notice it and not say anything. If you really think your wife is beautiful, you need to be telling her when you notice that she is. If you look at her and think, “Wow, I like how she did her make up today!” Let her know. If you think, “Those pants make her butt look good.” Please tell her, haha!
- Listen to her! Pay attention and don’t zone out. Show her that her words matter to you.
- Don’t ignore or invalidate her feelings. She probably has a lot more of them to deal with than you, but that doesn’t mean she’s making them up. Don’t act like she is. Calmly walk through them with her.
- Do that special thing that makes her feel loved. One woman may swoon when you arrive home from work with flowers, another may think, “Oh, that’s nice, but I really wish he’d do the dishes after dinner once in a while…” while another may respond best to a hand-written note. Learn what her definition of romance is, and try a few different things until you start to see a pattern. (For this I recommend that you both take the Love Language Test.)
- Be chivalrous! Carry in the groceries, open her car door, don’t let her get the door at a restaurant.
- Don’t stop dating her. Take her out and remind her that you are still after her heart every day.
Do whatever you can to let her know she is your precious, protected, appreciated girl. Remind her that she is your prize! Make sure she knows you are there for her always.
“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.” – Proverbs 31:10
Practical Ways to Respect Your Husband
Men need to know that they are useful, needed, and respect. They want to know that they are your hero and that they are taking good care of you. They need to be reminded that you are proud of them, that you appreciate them, and that they are doing a good job carrying out their role.
- Be his biggest cheerleader! Never stop encouraging your husband!
- Do your very best not to nag or complain! When you have an issue try to frame it in teamwork. Avoid saying, “You did __, and that’s not okay.” Go for, “Hey, can we talk about ___, because sometimes it makes me feel like ___.” Use love if you must bring up something like this. Avoid arguments if you can. This is such a serious topic that God’s word says it is better to live in the desert or the corner of a roof than with a nagging wife. Check out these verses:
“It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” – Proverbs 21:19 (NLT)
“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.” – Proverbs 27:15 (NLT)
“Better to live on a corner of the room than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” – Proverbs 21:9 (NIV)
- Make sure that your husband knows how proud of him you are. Tell him verbally and often.
- Remind him that you are grateful for ___ anything that he does to serve God or be a good husband to you. Come up with new things to be thankful for. Tell him, “Thank you that I never worry when you are away from me that your eyes or heart will be unfaithful. You are so loyal to me.” or “Thank you for being such a man of God, I love it that you cherish your quiet time.” or “You are such a hard worker! You are consistent and always show up for work on time! I feel so honoured to have you!” or “You do such a good job taking care of our family!”
- Do little things to make his work load easier, to show him that the responsibilities that are his to care for, are also your concern. You are his helper. This could mean making him lunch the night before work so he doesn’t have to worry about it the next morning. It may mean taking a gas can and filling up the lawn mower so he can take care of the yard without worrying about that. Give him a shoulder rub after a hard days work. Look for the little things that make his tasks easier.
- Take care of yourself. Show him that he is still worth getting dressed up for. By all means, that doesn’t mean he can’t see you without makeup or that you should obsess over your appearance, but why not get dressed up like your going on a fancy date, just for a night at home with him, to show him that he’s still worth that to you?
- Brag on him! You will not give him a big head, the world beats down men quite enough on it’s own. You are his personal cheerleader, and you should be making a point of talking well of him any chance you get. Don’t just do this when he’s not around either! When you’re having dinner with your family, say something like, “___ always does such a good job taking care of the house! He fixed that drawer that wouldn’t come out for me yesterday and it makes life so much easier!” Etc. You get the idea.
- Be excited to share your body with him. If you’re not up for it one night, make sure you clarify why so he doesn’t feel like it’s a personal rejection. When you are intimate, be verbal here too! Send him a text the next morning letting him know what a great lover he is!
- Make sure he knows that you are listening. Avoid interrupting, and let him know that you heard him.
- Accept his leadership. If you’re unsure, voice your opinion, but if he still want’s to make that decision, let him know that you trust his leadership and decision and that you have his back! If you’d like a personal example… Zach wanted to buy a truck a year or so ago. He found one on Craigslist and thought we should buy it before winter. I didn’t think we really needed one but told him if he thought we did, I would be behind him. Lo and behold, my car clonked out and stopped running only a couple months later and we such a rough winter that the truck was the only vehicle that could make it down our driveway for weeks at a time!
Do whatever you can to let him know what a great job he is doing! Show how appreciated he is, speak well of him, and build him up! Make sure he knows you are behind him 100% and you support him!
Well ladies and gentlemen, what about you? Do you have any success stories about things you have done that went over really well and made all the difference to your spouse? Please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your ideas!
With much love and grace (which I feel I need more and more of the longer I write this article… it’s a little “self-convicting” haha),
P.S. Zach, I love you so much! Thank you for loving me even through me failures at treating you with the respect you deserve. You are the best and truly my greatest gift from God!