June 27, 2011

Husbands: Some Assembly Required

Most marriage ceremonies speak of joining "this man and this woman" in holy matrimony. As my husband points out, you are not marrying a generic man. You are marrying this man. In A Wife and Life Manual, I emphasized that the Bible should guide a future pastor's wife. Now, I suggest that knowing your man goes hand-in-hand with knowledge of the Bible. 

Knowing this man is a life-long pursuit. I have been married 38 years, and, at times, applying the Bible to my marriage to Brad seems like trying to figure out those complicated assembly instructions that come with IKEA furniture. It is a useful exercise with a positive outcome, but it takes as much energy as learning Swedish and mechanical engineering at the same time.

Men and women are different. Volumes are written about this, but you don't understand how profound the difference is until you get married. This difference is God's design and the reason you are attracted to each other. I urge you to rejoice in this fact. Don't buy into our cultural norms that say a man is at his best when he is thinking and acting like a woman. As I have learned, "Why can't you be more like me?" is unanswerable.

Differences can be fascinating. Use observation and conversation to get to know your man. Do you remember a time when you met an interesting person from another country and asked her lots of questions about what she did and thought? You observed her style of dressing and way of speaking. Keep that type of fascination with your husband alive. Don't let your only questions be of the "Who is picking up milk after work?" genre.

Participation has value. I once heard that men relate shoulder-to-shoulder by being involved in activities while women relate face-to-face by sitting and talking. So, I work diligently at being interested in some aspect of the activities that Brad loves so that I can participate with him. I am not passionately against the use of the American League designated hitter like he is, but I do have fun watching the pierogi mascots race between innings. And, I try not to talk the whole time I am shoulder-to-shoulder.

Learning about your husband saves you stress. You may think that, as a wife, you need to excel in every way. Once you find out your husband's values and priorities, you may be pleasantly surprised that some things that you thought you really needed to do to please him are a non-issue. For instance, even though my mother taught me otherwise, I do not make our bed. (People in my congregation: This is where you gasp!) The best part... my husband does not care one bit.

"A prudent wife is from the Lord." I want to be that prudent wife by knowing my man. May these observations help you to be married to your man with prudence.


  1. I especially like the "differences can be fascinating" reminder. With two small children I'm often stuck in check-list mode.

  2. Any hints about how to do this in different stages of life?

  3. I think there is a temptation to stop learning about your man after 15 years or so of marriage. You feel comfortable together and think you know all there is to know. I have met women who finish their husband's sentences! Keep on being interested in him the way you were in the early years. You might be surprised to learn that he has changed and dislikes being sterotyped as he used to be or used to think.

    Shake things up! One way to do this is to develop new interests together. Do you always sit together in front of a DVD every Friday? Go bowling. Go bowling on a Tuesday. The familiar can be comforting, but it might extinguish romance. Are you weighed down by ministry concerns? Get out for some relationship building. Be creative if money and time are a concern. Your marriage is worth it.

  4. I've been married 24 years this year. In the last two years, I have been rediscovering my husband's dreams. When we were young, I thought I needed to help fulfill them. Now, I can just listen and cheer him on.

    Another thought: life changes us. I think my picture in my head of my husband tends to stay the same unless I work on it. Yet, we all go through the three steps of change - knowing what we are letting go of and letting go of it; fog of transition; new direction. When my husband changes and I don't rediscover him, I get stuck at the first step and we don't find new direction as a couple. I always wondered how some couples stayed focused and vibrant and some people/couples just curled up and stopped living - I think they don't do the hard work of change.

    I like Patsy's idea of shaking things up - but what I've found needs shaking up is my expectations and responses.

  5. Kim, I am so glad you brought out the part about how people change. Originally, I had that in my post, but it didn't find into my 400-word limit.
    I live in what is called "The Land of Steady Habits." What I perceive as negative change unnerves me, but I rest in the comfort that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."James 1:17. When we have that solid foundation, we don't have to fear the people and circumstances that change in this life.

  6. Well, if you want to "shake things up", I highly suggest moving to another culture; the more different the culture, the more shaking you will get. :)

    I remember the first year that my husband and I were in our new place of ministry, learning a new language and how to live in a very different culture, all we had time and energy for was curling up on the couch in front of the computer (our DVD player). We were both so drained from the stresses of life in this new place that we hardly had time for any relationship development for us.

    I think it took us a long time to realize that we were sort of stuck in a rut. After a few journeys back and forth across the pond, we began to understand that we simply weren't having those meaningful conversations that married people need to have to continue learning about each other. Sometimes we still get caught up in the business of just living in another culture and doing ministry and taking care of the family and keeping in touch with friends and family so far away, that we have to remind ourselves that we need to take care of our relationship.

    One thing that has helped me contribute to this is "continuing education" so to speak. I found myself becoming dull. I could talk for hours about my children and all that we did together, but to cultivate my relationship with my husband, I wanted to make myself more interesting. One way I did this was to simply read more, which is actually sometimes harder than it sounds, but it really helps. It doesn't even matter what you read, necessarily. Reading itself helps keep your mind more active and helps you think of different things. I also tried to resurrect some old hobbies. In other words, while I am completely content being the wife to my husband and the mother to my children, I also want to stay interesting.

    We have also found that ministry activity seems to come in spurts for us. There's a big push to get everything ready, then what you're preparing for happens, and then you have that "after" feeling. When everything is done, we make a concentrated effort to spend some time together with the kids and with each other and catch up on what's going on with each of us.

    So thanks, Patsy! I feel the urge for a date with my husband!

  7. Amen. As a possible / hopeful future husband, I agree with what this author has to say. When you marry, you are marrying an unique human being instead of a generic stereotype.

  8. Anonymous, I hope you find a woman who will love and respect you. I wouldn't trade my husband for anyone else.


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