For over 30 years, I’ve made myself a student of marriage, primarily for the sake of enriching my own marriage and uplifting and celebrating my own wife. I’ve carefully watched men’s interactions with the women in their lives, and sought to observe where the build ups, and the break downs, occur on a daily basis.
In the home, at work and at play, married or yet-to-be-married, it seems that men are not always the smartest branch of the species when it comes to relationships.
Our God-given drive to work, create, plan, implement, dream and provide is a gift that can get in the way of a healthy relationship if we are not both intentional and careful.
The following are a few tips on how to treat a woman that I’ve distilled from our 20 years of marriage, and from watching men relate to their ladies at any stage of pre-marriage or marriage.
I offer them humbly, as yet another man in process – the process of learning to love well for the long haul and to pass on a heritage of marital strength to our children and our family line to come.
1. Cherish her.
In my estimation, this is the most vital relational action expressed by any man to his lady. All the joy and pain that love and marriage can bring, from the man’s end, revolve around our capacity to cherish our ladies.
For some personalities, this is easier than others, as some men are by nature more sensitive and relationally aware.
For the vast majority of men, however, it seems that being relationally aware of one’s lady takes conscious effort and hourly choices to remember to cherish.
To cherish her is to continually communicate, through spoken words, gentle touches, small gifts and subtle communications that she is more important to you than any other person, business transaction, form of entertainment, professional pursuit or financial opportunity.
Every day, cause her to wake up expecting you to be cherishing her again, and understand her frustrations (and even anger) through the lens of her not getting enough cherishing activity from you.
In my estimation, this is the foundation of the man’s job in marriage. As a man who has learned to cherish most days, I can promise you that the rewards relationally far outweigh the energy you expend to express cherishing.
When children come along, this same cherishing must be attended to with even greater diligence.
2. Pursue her.
Many men find it difficult to be proactive when it comes to communication with their lady. Because we can be very focused on the next big adventure, the next big pursuit or the next big buzz of progress, we tend to expect others to pursue us “if they really need our attention.”
This will break down our intimacy, friendship and marriage over time, especially if the only time your girl is pursued is when you want to either be physical or to download pain from your day.
A woman needs to hear from you with regularity and consistency. Some of our greatest moments as a couple occur when I seem to randomly call in the middle of a busy day just to say “I love you,” and to share two minutes of banter about the day’s events thus far.
A woman needs to feel like she is a mystery worth exploring, a gift worth opening. She also wants to hear about the details of your day. You can do this through a simple regimen of frequent phone calls, notes sharing both affection and information about your activities while apart, and brief “debriefing” sessions at the end of every day.
You can also begin the day by pursuing her with a hidden love note somewhere she is sure to find it. When away, you can do this through email, or better yet, snail mail.
3. Find her.
When love and friendship blossoms into marriage, and marriage blossoms into family, life can get beautifully complicated. Relationships abound everywhere: your marriage relationship, children relationships, family relationships, work relationships and more. Sometimes as a couple you do these relationships together, and sometimes you don’t.
In the overgrowth of all the relationships that can and will occur, make sure you find her, and repeat steps 1 and 2 above. You will have to look beyond the meals and logistics of life to find her – her life may be hidden behind her duties and the family calendar, just as yours may be hidden behind your own.
She needs to be found; life can be a series of “losses of self.”
Men these days, it seems to me, are continually “finding themselves,” and redefining themselves, well into our 40s. Caught up in our own driven desire for success (however our inner child defines it), we forget to find our wives as we are too busy finding ourselves.
Men must grow up, and make decisions to stay rooted for some time in order to create a peaceful garden in which a mutually “finding” life can be shared.
My wife has been told many times that at any point, she is more important to me than “the dream.” Even if I think that dream is God’s will, or the next big step to our future, if my wife is not on board, she knows that she will always win.
I can trust God to take care of the dream, if I take care of my wife.
Remind her who she is. A woman can lose herself along the way of work and family and friendships. She will need you to champion her, elevate her, and call her forward when she wants to shrink back.
Carve out time to just relate to one another (in fact, some couples build bi-annual getaways into their calendars), and decide now that your marriage (even if you’re not married yet) is worth the planning in of “finding time.”
Other Articles In The Relationship Series
Other Helpful Resources
Books That Helped Us Start Strong
How Can I Be Sure? A Premarital Inventory (a retro cover, but the workbook was great)
The Act Of Marriage (LaHaye) (the beauty of sexual love)