Can you imagine a husband making a funny joke and then, at the punchline landing a solid jab to his wife’s shoulder? Of course not. It’s out of place (and perhaps domestic abuse). However, in the context of a male friendship such behavior is widely practiced and acceptable. What’s the difference? (I’m about to get profound here…) Simply, women are different then men. Husbands and wives are different. And this is a good thing, something to be celebrated.
However, it is also apparently an evasive truth. One of the most common non-spiritual, basic, counseling I give to a husband is: don’t treat your wife like a guy. Believe it or not, men seem to forget this fact about as often as we leave our dirty socks on the floor. One of the chief areas this is seen is the area of romance. Many men think that they can woo their wives by treating like men. We think that we can just snap our fingers or just jump right to physical intimacy without any regard for emotions.
Guys, this doesn’t work.
WE NEED TO KNOW THEM
Instead, what is right and what does work is understanding. Peter reminds husbands to live with their wives in an understanding (or knowledgeable) way (1 Pet. 3.7). Therefore, it is helpful to know what makes them tick. While I realize this task is virtually impossible to master it is possible to improve upon.
C.J. Mahaney once said something that really stuck with me, in reference to marital romance, “Before you touch her body, touch her heart and mind.” What is he saying? He is saying, you better not treat her like a guy! She is different. Therefore, if you know your wife, if you understand your wife, then you have got to do and say things that truly reach her heart.
Here are some suggestions.
THE KITCHEN SINK IS A PRETTY ROMANTIC PLACE
One of the ways husbands can do this is through service. I truly believe that some of the best romance in a marriage can happen at the kitchen sink. Instead of sitting around like a piece of furniture when you get home from work, husbands can go to the sink and help with the dishes or cleaning in the kitchen. As you are doing this you can talk about the day and serve by cleaning. Here you are entering into your wife’s world, listening, learning, and helping.
FACE TO FACE TIME IS INVALUABLE
Another way to learn your wife is to actually sit down and talk to her. And, talking while walking with your back turned or while checking the football score doesn’t count. I’m talking about eye to eye talking.
I should also stipulate that it is not always a good idea to talk all about yourself here. Remember you are trying to serve and learn your wife, therefore, listening and learning are good things to do. (Also be sensitive to your wife who loves you and wants to hear about you. Don’t be cryptic, nondescript, overly negative or prideful. Serve her by talking thoughtfully.)
One of the most treasured times in our evenings are when I get to sit and talk with Christie. When I get to hear her talk about her day and the various things the kids did. I am reminded of her love and sacrifice for them and she is reminded of my love for her and the children. This is a good and valuable time.
DATING THAT ENCOURAGES COMMUNICATION
Another way to learn is to go on dates with your wife. This is pretty obvious. However, a lot of guys take short cuts here. Too many guys are not thoughtful enough here. Going to movies, games, or double dates are fun but they don’t always deliver the level of communication and emotional intimacy that you may be after. If this is the extant of the dating, over the long haul, I don’t think it is going to really help the bottom line. Again, it works great for guys to hang out with one another but marriage requires a bit more thoughtful and intentional work.
BOTTOM LINE IS BEING THOUGHTFULLY INTENTIONAL
The bottom-line for guys is that we have got to be intentional in the romancing of our wives. We cannot become complacent or lazy. We cannot plateau or go backwards. It’s not an option.
One suggestion I have in addition to the above is to ask your wife how you are doing. Does she think you treat her like a guy? Does she think she is the most important person in the world to you? Does she feel like you know her? How does she rate your ability to romance her?
Listen, I don’t have this stuff all figured out. Trust me, these questions convict me too. But I know that my wife is worth it and I want her to feel and know she is loved. I trust many of you husbands can relate. Therefore, takes some time to think, chew on it, and then get to work. And if it’s helpful maybe you can punch me in the shoulder next time we bump into each other.