By Dennis Rainey
As a husband, you need to know how your wife defines romance. You need her personal dictionary that defines it. Last week I discussed her first non-negotiable for a romantically satisfying relationship—security. The next non-negotiable comes from the Song of Solomon:
Non-negotiable #2: Acceptance
You see, King Solomon knew the importance of elevating his wife’s beauty, her appearance, her dignity, her worth as his wife, and her value as a woman. As you’ll see in a moment, he carefully chose his words to communicate how beautiful she was to him. Such praise and affirmation are essential for a woman to hear. Acceptance begins with an understanding of what your wife is feeling about herself.
Does she feel good about the way she looks? Her hair? Her clothes and shoes? Her weight? Her skin tone? Her body image? Her teeth? Her overall attractiveness? Chances are good that she compares herself to the airbrushed models of perfection she sees every day. From the covers of the magazines in the checkout line to the advertisements she watches on television, your wife is constantly made to feel inferior, unworthy, and unacceptable.
Solomon recognized his bride’s need for affirmation and didn’t hesitate to go beyond mere acceptance. He lavished praise on her. He said, “I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariots” (Song of Solomon 1:9).
Now, before you try that line on your wife, keep in mind the context. The picture was of Solomon’s finest mare, most likely an Arabian beauty, a dark creature of unquestioned magnificence. That mare was the finest that money could buy. This exotic creature would have turned heads—maybe even caused a stampede because of her exquisite beauty. In other words, Solomon used poetic language to tell his wife that she was magnificent.
But that’s not all.
Solomon quickly added, “Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make for you ornaments of gold, studded with silver” (Song of Solomon 1:10–11). He not only accepted her and saw her as a woman of great beauty, but he also lavished jewelry on her. When was the last time you sprang for a new bracelet? A necklace? A ring? Like Solomon, let your wife know you esteem her greatly by giving her something extraordinary.
You don’t have Solomon’s wealth, but you do have a heart fueled by love. Just like when you dated, you can figure this out!
When Barbara and I were first married, I realized early on that she needed to be cherished for her beauty. When we started to have children (6 children in 10 years), her body began to change. She wondered if she was still physically attractive to me. I worked at praising her beauty at that stage in our marriage, but that was not all that made her praiseworthy. Her character and her heart for God were also beautiful. And now that we’ve moved into the empty nest years, I can’t coast. I understand how important it is for me to continue to praise her for the woman she’s become.
Over five decades later the truth is I think she’s spectacular! She is my friend and life partner!
In the same way, your wife longs for unconditional acceptance. She secretly hopes you’ll notice and commend her various qualities—her spiritual receptivity (teachable heart) and obedience to God, her personality, her faithfulness in raising children and making a home. Because you are the most important person in her life, your affirmation and acceptance unleash an inner beauty and a confidence that radiate.
Non-negotiable #3: Emotional connection
Marriage is a partnership that takes teamwork.
Some men fail in their partnership because they don’t make an emotional connection with their wives. Heidi, who attended one of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, writes, “My husband does nothing to help me around the house. I am just plain tired. I do all the laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, everything after working all day … oh, we’ll stay married, but I just know we could be happier.”
As a husband you do not want your wife feeling your marriage is boring and uninspired. You want her growing in love and truly connecting with you.
Did you know that when you participate in family life by sharing in some of the daily duties, you connect with your wife on an emotional level? Working together around the house or in the yard (Barbara’s other domain) is a great way to communicate your love for your wife.
Barbara is all about beauty, whether it’s inside or outside the home. It’s one of her most important values. If you want to truly connect emotionally with your wife, become a student of what she values in your family and in her domain, her home.
Another way to connect emotionally is to compliment your wife. Proverbs 16:24 offers this pointer: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (NKJV). How often do you praise your wife for what she does and who she is? Consider a few of these compliments to brighten her day:
“Dinner was great! Thank you for always making creative meals, even when you’re tired of cooking.”
“I love the way you read books to our kids. That’s so much better for them than watching TV.”
“I’m grateful that you carefully budget our paycheck each month.”
“The flowers you planted make our home so much more inviting. I appreciate your hard work.”
“I’m so grateful that you are modeling and creating a family that models God’s character and His values. You are creating a family that chooses good and not evil.”
As you work to make an emotional connection with your words and actions, go below the surface to the real issues of life. How? Start by to talking with her. Listening to her.
For some, this involves a conscious choice. Share with her, for example, what goes on at work—what you’re doing well, where you’re struggling, the people you’re working with, the people you encounter. Most women love hearing the details. You’ll also discover that she can provide wise counsel on different issues you’re facing.
And ask her to pray for you. Specifically for matters that are really important to you.
The bottom line: Welcome her into the interior issues of your life. Trust me, your wife really wants access to you and your real life.
Finally, ask your wife questions about what she is feeling, and then listen to her. One way I do this with Barbara is to ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
For example, I might ask her, “How did that exchange with our teenage son make you feel?” Making the effort to know specifics about her background, her favorite things, and her dreams all communicate to her, “I want to know you. I want to be your soul mate. I want to grow in my understanding of you.”
A favorite question that I asked Barbara was, “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in your life?” Try that question on a date night with your wife and give her time to think about her answer. You might consider sharing how you would answer the question. Here are some more questions to help you make the connection:
· What is one of your earliest childhood memories?
· What is one thing from your past that you struggle with?
· What was one of your proudest achievements before we met?
· What was your relationship with your dad like? How about your mom?
· What would you say was our best family vacation, and why?
· What is your favorite book in the Bible? Your favorite hymn? Why?
· If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?
· What dreams do you have for our children?
· What are your three greatest needs in this season of our family and marriage?
· What do you long to experience with me in our marriage?
· What do you want to accomplish after the kids are grown?
As you study your wife and learn how and when to build security, acceptance, and emotional connection into your relationship, you will become an irresistible man.
And let me make one last practical suggestion: When you come home from work, here are four of the most romantic words to say to your wife: “How can I help?”
You’ll never go wrong asking this question any time of the day or night. Those words are music to her ears because they demonstrate that you desire to connect to her world. Why not try it—and mean it—tonight?
Go for it guys.
Likewise, husbands live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as a weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. I Peter 3:7
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