We all know that great marriages don't just happen on their own or by accident. They take work and intentional cultivation - by both parties involved! At the end of the day, we can't control what our husbands put in, but there are plenty of ways that we can step up to the plate to make sure our husband's feel loved, pursued, cherished, valued and respected, and these are just a few!
1. Pray for him
In all my years of marriage there is nothing that I've found to be more powerful, more impactful and more transformational than prayer. I've gone through many different seasons in my marriage - seasons where I've been disciplined about praying for my husband daily and seasons where I've let my prayerfulness run dry. I can tell you from experience that during the seasons of being intentional about both lifting my husband up in prayer regularly and praying WITH him regularly we've experienced the most incredible life (and heart) change.
One of my favorite things about prayer is that oftentimes we approach it hoping that God will change our circumstances (which He can and sometimes He does). But, more often I have found that when I humble myself before God and offer up prayers on behalf of my husband God ends up changing my heart, which then becomes a catalyst for change in my husband's heart. Amazing, right? Check out one of my favorite prayer resources for marriage, The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.
2. Creatively affirm him
My husband has always had a strong need to be communicated love through verbal and nonverbal words of affirmation. They are a kind of life blood to him, and I've always enjoyed speaking life into him by reminding him of how amazing he is. But, amidst the busyness of life it can be easy to fall out of practice in affirming our husbands and worse.....if we don't keep the creative juices flowing, it can start to feel robotic and bland to both parties.
In the earlier days of marriage and babies when my hubby worked evenings, one of my favorite things to do for him was write an encouraging or loving note in dry erase marker on our bathroom mirror when I would get up in the morning (since I woke early with the babies). It was a daily ritual that I know we both looked forward to and I love that it began my day with thinking of my husband in a positive light, with a heart to love and serve him well. I also know that these words of encouragement, love and affirmation went a long way in keeping his spirits high and making him feel loved and cared for.
3. Let him know you're thinking about him
If you're home all day with the kids or working hard at your job, how good would it make you feel to get a little text message or email from your guy letting you know he was thinking of you? Amazing, right?! Our men are no different. They love knowing that they are cared for and thought of, so any chance you get, notice and seize opportunities to let your husband know you thought of him. If you think something nice, say it! If you think of a way to bless him, do it! It could be as small as sending a text message with a few little heart emojis or something bigger like filling his tank up with gas, or packing him a yummy lunch with a special note. The sky is the limit - just let him know you think of him, often!
4. Share your gratitude with him
At the end of the day, husbands want to know that their wives are happy, content and fulfilled with their lives. It can be a heavy burden to carry when they think we aren't satisfied with the lives we're living. Getting into a regular practice of sharing gratitude with your hubby can make a huge difference in his heart, mind and soul - it's like a kind of fuel that can keep him energized and sustained. Anytime your husband does something you're grateful for, let him know! Anytime you think of something you're grateful for about him, tell him! And, be sure to tell him about all the things you're thankful for that don't involve him. Gratitude is infectious and creates powerful perspective shifts. It's the gift that keeps on giving, so make sure to share it with your man.
5. Ask his opinion - and then follow it!
Something I recently learned is that women often have a bad habit of asking for their husband's opinions only to make decisions in opposition of their opinions - which can actually communicate disrespect to them. What?! Mind blown, right?? But if you stop and think about it, it's kind of true. How would it feel if your husband asked you which shirt you liked better, then he chose the opposite one from the one you chose? What about if he asked you how you would handle a tough situation at work, and then he did the opposite? It wouldn't make you feel very valued or respected by him, would it? So, there are two ways you can go with this. 1) Be incredibly careful to only ask him for his opinion when you truly want it and 2) Challenge yourself to go with his opinion when he offers it! It'll get you outside your comfort zone and it will communicate that you value and respect your husband's opinion. It's a win-win!
6. Take care of yourself
This might seem like a funny thing to include in a list of ways to pursue your husband, but hear me out. Something I've learned over the years is that when we wives and mamas prioritize taking care of ourselves everything else in our lives is better. How much do you think your husband would like being married to a chronically stressed out, overwhelmed, stretched thin, unhealthy, overtired, irritable wife? Would you like being married to a man like that? Ummmm......NO THANKS. My husband has taught me that there is nothing sexier than a woman who takes pride in caring for herself well so that she can show up every day as her best self, ready to do great work and care for those around her well. So, taking that cue, let's both make a promise to start taking better care of ourselves - our husbands will notice, and appreciate our effort!
7. Take something off his plate
Sometimes it's easy to get into a bad habit of expecting our husbands to always be the ones to do kind, considerate things for us since they are the guys (chivalry, right?!) But who says chivalry is something strictly reserved for men?! My challenge to you is to start asking your husband how you could step in and take something off his plate to lighten his load. Or, better yet - think of something you can do without even having to ask him! Remember that you guys are in this life thing together and constantly look for ways that you can make your hubby's life better - then do those things! I promise it will make a huge difference and keep your marriage stronger than ever.
8. Take initiative in the bedroom
Ladies, I know sex is a big, big, intricate, complicated matter to unravel and we are all in different places with different backgrounds and circumstances we're dealing with. So, I won't try to unravel all of the ins and outs (no pun intended, ha!) of sex and intimacy in marriage. Instead, I just want to leave you with this - sex is the one thing that separates the relationship you have with your husband from the kind of relationships you have with anyone else. It's something that can produce incredible intimacy between the two of you and fulfills each of you on a level that only each other can (and should) fulfill. In a world so oversaturated with sexuality everywhere we look, it's harder than ever to keep our minds and hearts pure - as both husbands and wives. One of the best ways you can communicate love and desire for your husband is by initiating physical intimacy with him, as often as possible! And don't forget that it starts before the physical act itself. Open up conversations about hesitations, fears, exhaustion or anything else you might be dealing with surrounding the topic of sex, so that you can both work through them together, creating a deeper level of connectivity and intimacy.
9. Give him grace
Remember back when you were first getting to know your husband and you thought he had to be the most perfect man in the world? In reality, he was just the same then as he is now, your sight is just less clouded by pheromones and puppy love now that you've been at this marriage thing for awhile. In the beginning it's much easier to give grace and focus on the good because you want him. But let me ask you this - what good does it serve anyone to focus on the flaws and idiosyncrasies you see in your husband? Has that approach ever motivated him to actually change the things you don't like? I'm guessing probably not. So, next time you start to get frustrated by something he does, remember that you are not little miss perfect either and requires heaps of grace on the daily yourself.....then challenge yourself to give your husband an unending supply of grace cards to use himself. True, real love is all about grace, my friend!
10. Get to know him
This might seem like a funny thing to say about the man you've been married to for however long you've been married (hopefully you know him pretty well by this point, right?!) But, contrary to what we often assume, none of us will stay exactly the same as the day we met our spouses - honestly, that would be weird! Human beings are supposed to grow, change and evolve so we can't assume that it's enough to get to know our husband's once and then we're good for life! Something my hubby and I have loved to do ever since we were dating is play the "Question Game".....which really just means we take turns grilling each other about everything from what our current favorite song is, to what our biggest goal for the year is, to what superpower we wish we had was. You can keep it light, dive deep, or do some combination of the two, but the most important thing is to make sure you're regularly engaging in the kind of conversation that will keep your hearts connected.