By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
I didn’t grow up dreaming of a fairy tale wedding or getting married. I was too busy dreaming of a CEO by day and a writer by night.
I thought if I got married, I would lose myself amidst the mundane of chores, kids, and housework. I was the second oldest of six kids and I didn’t want to be what my mom was. I wanted better. More.
I watched my mom lose herself in the name of sacrifice as their marriage unraveled. I vowed this would never happen to me. The fear of rejection, insecurity and abandonment solidified as my parents' marriage dissolved.
But then a quiet boy with an adventurous soul caught my attention at 15 and the rest is history. Eventually, I found myself married and wading through chores, kids, and housework with the better half of my dreams fulfilled.
After some time, though, three questions crept to the surface of consciousness day after day: How can I be a better wife and still pursue my passions? How can I be a better wife and heal from the wounds of my childhood? What kind of wife does God want me to be?
Marriage Is a Beautiful Representation of Christ and the Church
God designed marriage to be a representation of himself and his love for the church. We find this example of the book of Ephesians when the Apostle Paul perceptively shared the greater reality of marriage—that the Church of God will become one with Christ Jesus in a divine marriage. Christ as the groom, prepares his bride for the great wedding super in Ephesians 5:25-33. In other words, marriage directly symbolizes the relationship between Christ and his followers.
Consider Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their hard work. For if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up. But what will happen to the one who falls with no one to help him up? Moreover, if two lie down together, they will stay warm, but how can just one keep warm? And someone may overpower one alone, but two together can take a stand against him. And a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn apart.”
A twofold cord, as this verse implies, might be torn apart; but three strands woven or braided together would be much harder to tear apart. The reason we choose to marry, the reason God created marriage is driven by love. Love is a powerful emotion because God himself is love.
Now that we understand marriage is a reflection of God and his church, we can tackle how to be a better wife. Here are 6 ways how.
1. Make Love Not Bargains
I can’t begin to tell you how many marriages struggle because sex is withheld as punishment or a way to get even after an argument. Sex is as much a gift to women as it is to men despite the stereotype that men need sex more. Intimacy is the thread that weaves your souls together and strengthens the connection between you both.
However, that does not mean you should always be ready to attend to your husband's needs or vice versa. But neither should ever feel that they are obligated to perform when they are feeling under the weather or if you’ve had a horrible day. The best sex is always between two partners who are excited to please each other. Remember the “love” passage of the bible: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
2. Be a Wife Who Takes Care of Herself
Our bodies were made to pack on and shed the extra pounds as we birth new life. Our minds were created to ponder and treasure life and give perspective. Our arms were meant to embrace our husbands.
In the early years of motherhood, you will forget to shower or even feed yourself. That’s completely okay. But that will lead to burnout. Burnout is never good for anyone.
Remember you were a person before you became a mom. It wasn’t until I was wading through days of diapers and dishes before I cried out to God, desperate to find the old me. It was then he reminded me of the things I did that made me feel like me. I started a blog, running, and antidepressants. All three were lifesaving to my sanity, soul, and marriage.
The Bible reminds us we are dwelling places of God Almighty. He wants the best for us which is why we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Self-care is often overlooked as a wife because we tend to focus so heavily on children. In fact, your man likely fell in love with you because of the spark he saw in you when you were dating when you were doing the things you loved.
Remember, we were wives before we were mothers. We were God’s daughters with a calling before we were wives. If you aren’t finding joy, if you’re burned out, or there’s major lack, remember who you were pre-nuptials. Find a way to fit in time for you. Happy wife, happy life.
3. Tell Your Husband What You Need
Your man cannot read your mind or finish your sentences. The last thing he is expecting when he gets home from work is try and read your mind. Passive aggressiveness should never be used in marriage, ever. If you have a need, say so.
One of the biggest issues we had in our marriage early on is that I wanted more time outside of the house with him. Chris simply didn’t see it because he couldn’t wait to get home. He didn’t see that I needed a moment away from the kids and household responsibilities to just breathe and remember who we were as a couple.
It was a simple matter of talking and explaining why I felt the way I did. He admitted that he never would have seen it from my perspective had I not asked to talk to him about it. Now getting out together, daily, is our thing. We go for walks while the kids do dinner clean up. On the weekends, we grocery shop and then go on a date for sushi or coffee.
Spending time together like this wouldn’t have happened if I gave him the cold shoulder and expected him to know. The Word is filled with gentle reminders how precious communication is. Galatians 6:2 points us, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jonathan J Castellon
4. Take Time to Do what Your Husband Likes
It’s one thing to send him off on his golf or fishing adventures. It’s quite another to do it with him.
Believe it or not, they love it when you do. Men are wired for shoulder to shoulder time compared to women. We prefer face to face time but here’s the thing, shoulder to shoulder time does lead to face to face time.
For example, my husband loves to grocery shop and cook. Food is his happy place. He could easily spend three hours at his favorite wholefoods store and not realize he got lost somewhere between capers and curry sauce samples. I, however, loathe grocery shopping. But sometimes our date nights include getting groceries.
Taking time to be with while he’s doing his favorite things reminds him that you love spending time with him. It shows you enjoy his company and what he is interested in. It could be as simple as getting comfy in a lawn chair while he’s tinkering in the garage or being his cheerleader from the golf cart.
5. Be a Wife Who Doesn’t Bash on Your Man
It’s easy to let your lips fly when your guy said or did something that was completely insensitive. Before you know it, you’re finding all sorts of reasons to be upset with him. Husband-bashing affects you.
You know what they say, “You find what you look for!” If you’re always looking for the negative, you will find the negative. If you’re looking for the positive, you will find the positive. And a negative mind will never give you a positive life.
n this man-bashing culture, our husbands need us to affirm who they are more than ever. So, don’t joke that you count your husband as one of your kids, or that he babysits the kids. One of your most important roles as a wife is to be the guardian of your husband’s self-esteem.
6. Allow You're Husband to Grow and Lead
He needs a cheerleader and that happens to be you. Especially as he begins to grow into being a man, into his marriage, as a father, and as the leader of the home.
When he leads family devotions, when he prays with you, or when he makes decisions that are especially responsible, thank him. Just as you want to cheer your kids when they do something right, you need to cheer on your husband.
The words we speak have awesome power over our husbands. We were meant to be their warriors whispering God’s truths into their ears. Perhaps you’ve been married for more than 20 years, and you really think your husband can’t or won’t change. Remember that nothing is impossible with God.
The King of Heaven is not finished with your husband, and you need to believe both in God and in your husband.
Hold to the truths of Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Implementing all of these new actions and mindsets won't happen overnight, but sowing these seeds in love will inevitably grow into a deeper, more holy connection.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Heather Riggleman is an author, national speaker, former award-winning journalist and podcast co-host of the Moms Together Podcast. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 21 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and Let’s Talk About Prayer and a contributor to several books. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman, and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.