The contrasts between men and women are sometimes so striking that we often hear couples say they’re amazed that the attraction between them can be so strong. Distinctions in gender are undeniable, and in recent years researchers have discovered that men and women have different biological, psychological, and professional realities.
There is an inherent completeness when a man and woman marry. Our partner makes up for what we lack. Too often in marriage, though, the fundamental differences between men and women are overlooked and become sources of great frustration and tension. To ignore the gender gap is to risk putting your marriage on the brink of disaster.
Today, we’ll talk about three things that every husband should know about his wife. (The flip-side of that will come in a few weeks…)
A woman’s most basic needs in marriage are (1) to be cherished, (2) to be known, and (3) to be respected.
She needs to be cherished.
It’s easy for a husband to overlook this deep desire in his wife because he doesn’t feel the need to be cherished as deeply as she does. Your wife needs to know that she is number one in your life, and she needs to know it with an intentional tenderness from you. She needs to know you would choose her every time–and not because you have to, but because you want to. Every wife has an insatiable need to hear the words, “I love you,” and to know (with evidence) that you’re thinking about her during the day.
Does cherishing your wife mean you always sacrifice golf games or success at work? No. When your wife is satisfied in knowing that she takes first place in your life, she will encourage you to do the things you enjoy. It is part of the mystery of marriage: when a woman is truly, genuinely cherished, she feels free to encourage her husband’s independence.
She needs to be known.
Imagine that your wife had a hard day at work, and she tells you all about her frustrations. And you offer all sorts of advice for how to fix the situation. And she’s furious. The truth here? She’s not looking for your recommendations; she simply wants to be understood through having her feelings validated and accepted.
To meet your wife’s important need to be known, you need to actively listen to her, reflecting back to her what she is saying and feeling, and genuinely wanting to understand her. The point cannot be overemphasized: women need to have their feelings validated and accepted. They need to have you see and experience the world the way they do. Sometimes, all she needs is a listening ear, a comforting hug, and a loving statement like, “You are hurting, aren’t you?” Listen; don’t lecture.
She needs to be respected.
Just like men, women need to be respected–but that can be hard for men to understand because a wife’s reaction to disrespect is so different than their own. When a female does not feel respect, she gets insecure and loses her sense of self. It is vital that you take special care of your partner’s need for respect.
There are a number of ways to show respect to your wife. Do not try to change or manipulate her, but rather, honor her needs, wishes, values, and rights. Include her in decisions. Ask for her input. Support her in fulfilling her own dreams and aspirations. There is nothing that tears down a women’s sense of self and ruins the possibility of a happy marriage more than when a husband makes autonomous and self-centered choices. Respect says, “You are valuable to me, I support you, and you can be just who you are.” In return for this respect, a woman will be able to relax and not feel pressure to prove herself.
The differences between men and women make marriage amazing, but they must be understood and accommodated with great care. When a husband understands his wife’s needs to be cherished, known, and respected, he can then love her practically within those areas. In response, she will flourish.
Stay tuned for another post about what every wife should know about her husband. This is all adapted from our book Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, and the new and revamped version will release October 27.