What My Wife Needs

What My Wife Needs

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33

I’d been married for a few years when I read a book* detailing the different needs that men and women have in marriage. If you’d have asked me previously, I’d have said that I understood this, but reading that book was the first time I actually thought about how my wife’s marriage requirements were different than my own. This was radical to me.

Up to that point, whenever I saw her in need, I tried to meet that need in a way that I would want it met. This led to frustration on both sides because I always tried to give her what I would want, not what she needed. As it turned out, sometimes, after a bad day, she didn’t need physical intimacy. She just needed me to listen. I learned that buying her a gift for no particular reason and cleaning the bathroom were the ways that I could show my love for her – weird to me, but love to her.

In today’s passage, Paul spoke to this truth – husbands and wives need different things. He said that men must love their wives and wives must respect their husbands. There have been whole books written on these specific commands (love and respect), and perhaps this is simply a moral command from God, but I think Paul also understood the different requirements that men and women have in marriage.

Our problem is that we are so self-centered that even when we try to do something for our spouses, we do it in a way that we would want it done. I can speak mostly for men, when I say that using sex as a comfort is more than a little self-serving. Yes, that may be what we would want after a bad day, but that doesn’t mean that it’s what our wives need.

Many marriages have been frustrated by a lack of understanding of this principle. When our needs aren’t being met, we usually respond by stop meeting the other’s needs. Paradoxically, when we feel our needs aren’t being met, the solution is usually to look to our spouse’s needs first.

So, I learned my wife’s love languages. I thought about it. I read about it. I asked her. Simply knowing isn’t enough though. Love isn’t only a feeling, but rather an action to be expressed. This isn’t always natural. I’m still selfish, wanting my needs to be met first. If I want a happy, healthy, loving marriage though, then daily, I must consider what my wife needs – even when that means picking up a toilet brush and cleaning the bathroom.


* For anyone interested, that book was His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley

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