Julie and I have seven children with an eighth on the way. My parents were wonderful Christians, but they did not prepare me for the tremendous difficulty and sacrifice required to raise these children and love my wife. Over the last several weeks I have realized yet again, how poorly I love my wife. I have begun to work harder at sacrificing for her and giving her what she needs. Here is some fruit of my thinking. This list applies to all husbands, but especially to those with children. I write these things as much for me as for anyone else. Some of these I am good at. Many I am still working on. These are in no particular order, but some are more important than others. And as always, there is a lot more that could be added to this list.
1. Delight in Lord’s Day Worship: This can be particularly difficult for pastors or others who have a lot of responsibility on Sunday mornings. I often find myself focused on the task, but not rejoicing in the task. Find practical ways to help your wife enjoy the Lord’s Day, especially worship. If you have a lot of young children this day can be the hardest day of the week. Recognize this and find ways to alleviate some of the burden.
2. Pray with her and for her: I am much better at the latter than the former.
3. Teach her the Bible: This can happen formally, such as through family worship or devotions with her. Or it can happen informally, as you bring to her attention how God’s Word can apply to her life. This means you must be reading the Scriptures. A good steward brings out good treasure. But you have got to put good treasure in (Matthew 13:52). One word of warning: Often when there are children around family worship becomes a way to teach them and the wife ends up being left out. Do not treat her like one of the children, but do make sure that family worship is for her as well as the young ones. Second word of warning: A lot men find it difficult to teach their wives. I am not sure why this is the case. Maybe they think their wives are more spiritual. Whatever the hump is we must get over it. As good shepherds we need to feed our wives on God’s Word.
4. Discipline Your Children: When you are around, make sure you take the lead with discipline. Do not leave all up to her. By disciplining your children faithfully when you are around, you make it easier on her when you are home and will make it easier on her when you gone.
5. Maintain Communication: It is easy to let days go by where you have not discussed the children or the home or finances or whatever else is going on your life with your wife. You should lead discussions, check in with her, call her from work and see how her day is going, etc. Do not wait for her to come to you. I am not encouraging you to micromanage. Nor do you need to have two hour discussions every night. But make sure you know what she is thinking. Keep the communication flowing and a lot of problems will be prevented.
6. Listen to Her: Husbands have a terrible time paying close attention to what their wives are saying. We are easily distracted. Give her your eyes and your mind. Shut off the TV. Close the laptop. Do not answer the phone. Send the children to read in their rooms. Give her your entire focus.
7. Be Disciplined with your Time and Money: For a woman to feel secure she has to believe that her husband is going to make good, godly decisions. Good decisions require discipline. If you throw away time and money your wife will not feel loved.
8. Recognize When She is Needy: Peter tells us to live with our wives in an understanding way (I Peter 3:7). One way we do this is understand when things are hard for her. This varies from wife to wife. It might be after a baby is born or just before the baby is born or both. It might be when there is trouble with her extended family. It might be the day she has to cart all five children to three different stores for groceries. It might be on Sunday morning. It might be at 5:00 when she has put in a long, hard day with the children and dinner still needs to be made. When she is needy there are three things to do: Protect her. Keep the world at bay so she can rest and recover. Show her compassion. Do not just tell her buck up and keep going. Help her. Jump in with joy and do what needs to be done. She needs to know that when she is weary you are going to protect her, comfort her, and help her.
9. Help her Take Care of Herself: Wives will often sacrifice their own well-being for those around them. As husbands, we must make sure our wives are cared for even as they pour themselves out. This means making sure she has time to shower and get ready for her day. It means that if she needs exercise you make sure she has the time to get it in. It means getting her the clothes she needs, the kitchen utensils she needs, the books she needs to flourish as a wife. When she expresses a need, such as, “Honey all my blouses are wearing out” you lead the way in making sure that need is met. Give her time and money to order some things online or go shopping. Often, the greatest need is rest. Wives will work themselves into the ground. Make sure she gets time to recharge. Tell her to take a bath. Give her time to read a book uninterrupted. Let her take a nap on Saturday or Sunday without being woken up.
10. Maintain a Healthy Sexual Relationship: Some of you may think this is obvious and easy. But as children enter the picture, so does nursing, late nights, diapers, extra weight (for you and her), and various other things that can dampen the sexual relationship. What comes easy early in marriage requires a more deliberate approach as you move along. I don’t like giving too many specifics with this area of our lives. But I will encourage regular sexual relations and would encourage the husband to initiate. Again, this will require more thought than it did when you had only been married six months. Is she tired? Do you both need showers? Is she nursing? Do I run the risk of older children walking in? Spontaneous sex is lot less frequent when you have several children. It can still be fun and frequent, but you must think about it more. Often a wife with several children whom she cares for throughout the day can feel ragged and tired. Lovemaking may not be the best option all the time. But show her a lot of physical affection and tell her often that she is beautiful and that you love her.