25 Ways to Show Your Wife You Love Her


The key to a successful marriage is putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. Here are 25 practical suggestions gleaned from 25 years of happy marriage.

  1. Listen
    To be truly heard is the longing of every human heart, and your wife is no exception. It sounds simple, but listening can be harder than it seems with so many distractions around us and within us. Set aside some time every day to look into your wife’s eyes and really listen to what she has to say. You may be surprised at what you hear. (James 1:19, Matthew 11:15)
  2. Communicate
    Don’t make her guess what you are thinking or feeling.
  3. Sing Her Praises
    Shamelessly brag about her good qualities and quietly pray about her bad ones. Her reputation is your reputation. (Proverbs 31:28-29)
  4. Pray For Her and With Her
    Praying on your wife’s behalf not only enlists the help of the Almighty, but also puts her and her needs at the forefront of your heart and mind, right where they belong. Praying alongside your wife will strengthen your relationship like nothing else. Studies show that couples who regularly pray together stay together, enjoying a 1% divorce rate compared to the usual rate of 50% or more. (Philippians 4:6; Matthew 18:19)
  5. Value Her Individuality
    Your wife is wonderfully unique. Don’t compare her to your mom, or your ex-wife, or your old girlfriend. Your mom may make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but unfavorable comparisons won’t win you brownie points.
  6. Put the Seat Down
    Perpetually raised toilet seats are a pet peeve of wives everywhere. And while you’re at it, tidy up a bit. A little consideration goes a long way. (Philippians 2:4)
  7. Throw Your Dirty Clothes in the Hamper
    It’s likely just a few steps from wherever you are dropping them anyway. Make this a habit, and it will let your wife know your don’t consider her your personal maid.
  8. Turn Off the T.V.
    Lay aside the video games, pocket the iPhone, and shut off the computer, as well. It is staggering how many hours we waste gazing at some sort of screen instead of interacting with the real people in our lives. Consciously set limits on your tube-time, whatever form it takes. Use the time saved to invest in your marriage: take a walk with your wife or play a board game together instead. (Psalm 90:12)
  9. Loosen the Purse Strings
    We all have to keep an eye on our budget, but an occasional splurge can be well worth it. Seemingly frivolous things like flowers, jewelry, and overpriced restaurants let her know that she is more valuable to you than a number in your bank account.
  10. Practice Servant-Leadership
    All organizations have a hierarchy. It’s impossible to function without one, but being a leader isn’t the same as being a dictator. The best role model is Jesus Christ, not Joseph Stalin. Jesus washed his disciples feet and then died on their behalf. It’s a challenge to exercise authority while maintaining a spirit of humility, but that is what being a godly leader entails. (Matthew 20:28, Philippians 2:1-8; Mark 9:35)
  11. Remember that Intimacy’s a Two-Way Street
    Unfortunately, men are notoriously selfish in the bedroom, yet are dumbfounded when their wives are less than enthusiastic in this arena. Make this area of your relationship as pleasurable for her as it is for you and it will pay huge dividends. It may mean washing the dishes or helping with the kids, so that she has energy left at the end of the day. It may mean cuddling and candlelight, so that she can relax and let the worries on her mind drift away. If you aren’t sure where to begin, just ask her, and then listen. (1 Corinthians 7:3)
  12. Give Her Time to Herself
    Everyone needs an occasional break to rest and recharge, and this is especially important for a wife who is at home all day with young children. Yet it’s very easy to neglect this legitimate need unless you regularly and intentionally schedule time for it. (Luke 5:16)
  13. Set Aside Couple Time
    Soak in the tub together each evening or go on a date night once a week — whatever gets the two of you alone on a regular basis. (Genesis 2:24-25)
  14. Be Careful with Female Friendships
    We all have friends and colleagues of the opposite sex, but tread cautiously. Not all affairs are physical ones. Honoring your marriage vows means remaining faithful in thought and word as well as in deed. (Matthew 5:27-28)
  15. Use Good Hygiene
    It is amazing how meticulous guys can be prior to marriage in their attempts to impress a girl, but once they walk down the aisle, all bets are off. Clean up a little; I promise it won’t kill you.
  16. Limit the Gross Stuff
    Few women find burping and farting nearly as hilarious as the typical guy does. Good manners are always a win. (Ephesians 5:4)
  17. Be Patient
    In whatever way this applies to you and your situation, apply it. (1 Corinthians 13:4, Proverbs 14:29)
  18. Cherish Her Children
    A mother’s bond to her children runs immeasurably deep. When you invest time or energy in them, you are investing in her as well. Kindness to them counts as kindness to her. (Malachi 4:6)
  19. Choose Her Over Hobbies and Buddies
    Invariably there will come times in your relationship when you will be forced to choose between your wife and something else that you enjoy. Always choose her.
  20. Provide for Her Needs
    This is so much more than just putting food on the table. It is all-encompassing. Whether it is physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, you name it — do your best to provide. Sometimes life’s circumstances hinder us in one area, but we can compensate in another area. Often the effort is as important as the outcome. (Galatians 6:2)
  21. Dial Down the Anger
    Your caveman instincts are handy on the battlefield, but horrible for a happy home life. Every outburst or flare-up is a relationship setback. To go forward, the first step is to stop going backwards. Learn to control your temper or it will control you, your marriage, and every other aspect of your life. Just because your wife puts up with it and your co-workers tolerate it, doesn’t make your short fuse an asset. Do whatever it takes to gain victory in this all-important struggle that has haunted man since Cain slew Abel. (Ecclesiastes 7:9, Ephesians 4:31)
  22. Cut Out the Condescension
    If you have been blessed with a quick wit, you can either be the life of the party or a pain in the neck depending on the circumstances. Condescension is anger’s younger brother. It isn’t as loud or as dramatic, but it can be equally hurtful and all the more so for its subtlety. Lay off the snide remarks, the sarcasm, and the belittling. Speak to your wife in the same way that you would speak to a respected colleague. She is, after all, your partner in the most valuable investment of your life — your family.(, (Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:19)
  23. Actively Seek Your Wife’s Insights
    Value her input and give it a preferential place in your decision-making process. (Proverbs 19:20; 12:15)
  24. Learn to Forgive
    Freely forgive your wife’s past, present, and future offenses. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of every meaningful relationship. (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13)
  25. Verbally Express Your Love
    There are lots of ways to show your love, but women still like to hear it spoken.

Obviously no list is comprehensive, and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, but hopefully this one will prompt you to compile a list of your own, tailor-made for your own wife. For any women reading this blog, you may be interested to know that my wife has published a similar list entitled 25 Ways to Show Respect to Your Husband. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Also, for those who have requested printable versions of these articles, you’ll find the list for wives here and the one for husbands here, with an option to print either article in its entirety or as a one-page summary.


This post first appeared on All Truth is God’s Truth. You may also want to check out my novel:
The Prodigy Project by Doug Flanders, MD
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101 Responses

  1. I am happy to see husband and wife doing God’s work together. Thank You, May Jesus bless you.

    • This is not God’s work. This is just an article that essentially says:

      Don’t be a jerk.

      • ‘Don’t be a jerk’ covers a good chunk of God’s commandments, actually: Matthew 22:37-39: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

        Love your neighbor as yourself means don’t be a jerk. That covers your spouse as well as the person living next door (and pretty much everyone else you meet, too).

  2. http://lovinglifeathome.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/25-ways-to-communicate-respect/ was a counterpart list. Personally, I appreciate a list for each.

    Just as I mentioned on the wife-list, if some husband were to look at this list and think “That’s just ridiculous!” on some of them, fine. Go over all 25 and tell me which ones you are simply unwilling to do (whatever your reasons), and which you think would 1. Make your wife happier, and 2. You would be willing to do at least from time to time.

    If you dump five items on the list, so be it! Treat it as “20 Ways” instead of 25.

    Personally, I LOVE this list. Most of it I already do as a matter of habit, and some of it is always good to be reminded.

    Now, this is how I would use both lists. I suggests husbands start first (since I believe men ought to take the lead on being responsible for their marriages – and my counseling experience is that women like it when their man takes the lead like this). Take the list, sit down with your wife, and ask her which of these she agrees with. I expect most wives would like most of them, maybe even all of them! If it’s a stretch for you to do some of these, then ask her for one or two ideas of how you can do “better.” No promises of “from now on” or “perfectly.” Just “better.” Do not judge, critique or grade her idea. Just say “thank you.” Tell her that you won’t be doing all of them, but you’ll do what you feel you can.

    Then wives, you go over the Wife Idea List with your husband, and ask him for “his brutally honest feedback.” Why those words? Because most loving men who do not want to hurt their wives will not be honest with you if they think it will hurt you or make you angry unless you specifically ask him to. Some men who are just mean don’t care, in which case you have other issues that probably need more than a column to help with – so this is making some assumptions you have a husband who loves you.

    Same thing. Go over the list to see what he wants. Ask for one or two ideas on anything you think could be improved, and just say “thank you.” No promises of “from now on” or that things will be perfect. Just promise to “work on being better.”

    Then, husbands, SCHEDULE the time to check in and see how you’re doing. “Better, about the same, worse” are your only criteria. Maybe in a month, or, depending upon the changes, maybe the first time in a week, then month by month after that until everything is “better.” That should only take about six months.

    This also provides a reasonable time horizon for change. Often people come back from marriage retreats or seminars with a “from now on” attitude and expectation, and when it doesn’t happen, disappointment reigns. Rather, grow into it. Give it time to become a habit.

    Then follow the schedule. Make it a date for her. Kick off with “Because our marriage is so important to me, and YOU are so important to me, I want to be responsible for my part in making this great for you.” Mean it. If you do, almost every wife I’ve ever counseled (some exceptions, I admit) will want the same for you.

    Blessings, gentlemen. Go love your wives!

    • Thanks, Scot, I think you really captured the spirit of the thing. We literally just got in from renewing our vows at the same church where we were married 25 years ago today. To commemorate those 25 wonderful years and the twelve children and four grandchildren they have produced, we decided to blog 25 ideas each that we thought might point out a few of the potholes we found along the way. We had no idea it would prove to be so controversial. Whatever the case, we think that an “eat the meat, spit out the bones” approach is best, no matter what the subject!

    • Take the list, sit down with your wife, and ask her which of these she agrees with. I expect most wives would like most of them, maybe even all of them!

      Nice.

  3. I would really like to see both versions in a printable format to stick to fridge for daily reminders or in the journal for prayer time :)

  4. Does this mean that we should tape this list to the fridge with the added note that husbands should on question 9 allow wives to have a generous allowance for Starbucks and the gun shop? :o) I am drooling at the thought.

  5. Wow I’m not married yet but I’ll show this to my bf hahaha Great post :)

  6. Ok on your list of ways to respect your husband you pretty much tell woman to bow down to thier husbands and subvert themselves to their husbands. On this list you tell men to put the toilet seat down, turn off the t.v., and put their clothes in the hamper. Please… That’s insulting!

    • These are two different lists made by two different people. Mine is suggestions about how a man can show his wife that he loves and cherishes her. My wife’s is ideas about how a woman can show honor and respect to her husband. Although there is some natural overlap, they are by no means parallel. I don’t care if the toilet seat is up or down, but my wife does, so it appears on my list, not hers. The key element is that each partner is giving freely to the other in ways that are meaningful to that other partner. Nothing on either list is original or particularly profound, but sometimes it is the simple things that turn out to be the most important. If a husband has routinely spent three or four hours each evening playing video games or surfing the internet, but then decides to use that time talking with his wife, helping around the house, and playing with the kids instead, the change will definitely be dramatic.

    • you should read the book “Love & Respect – The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Biblically sound and awesome reading…it’s life changing.

    • I didn’t read “bow down to their husbands and subvert themselves to their husbands’ on the other list. Maybe you read a different list.

      On one hand, if you choose to interpret ways to show a man respect as necessarily demeaning to a woman, you will see it that way. Many do, depending upon their training, upbringing, and, in my observation, often depending mostly on the quality of a man they have (or men they have had) in their lives.

      Of course, men could easily find this list insulting as if they have to be told things like “put the toilet seat down” and have to be told things like “turn off the t.v. and pay attention to your wife.” On one hand, it might be considered demeaning that grown up men would have to be told such things – and I’ve heard it argued to my face – but when I ask very concrete questions like “so you always put the seat down and all the men you know do it, too?” they have to admit that they don’t. That’s why such simple, obvious things make the list. You’d like to think grown up men would know such things.

      As for the woman’s list, just as with men, there are some things in this post-feminist age (post-feminist in the sense that women are not at war to gain rights that are now largely self-evident), women by and large know how to stand up for themselves, take over, and demeaning men is one of the bastions of acceptable humor (just think of it as our sons being made fun of, and it’s easier to see). It’s remembering to also mix in classic poise and grace that often gets lost these days, so those things are great reminders.

      No one says you have to do it all the time. It’s a list of ideas, not a list of Federal Regulations with jail time for disobeying. If you want your man to feel more “manly” try behaving in a way that sort of requires that he step up and do the “man thing,” and if his version is wildly dysfunctional (common enough that I might even call dysfunctional “normal”), then stop. No sense just giving a fool more power – but if you at least give a guy a shot and see if he’s an immature selfish jerk (as many women seem to automatically assume) or if maybe there is this mature, responsible streak in him that can actually lead – so the wife can focus her attention on the other aspects of her life without having to do what is classically supposed to be his job.

      • I think Scot’s right about Lisa’s conception of the list on your wife’s blog. The way you were raised, your religious views, and your husband’s personality/the way he treats YOU as a wife all play in on how one might feel about the list.

        I married a man (21 years ago) who came from a loving Christian home where they prayed at every meal, went to church every Sunday, and loved the Lord. Even though his parents ended up getting divorced when he was a teenager, the seed was planted and he grew up to be a very caring and loving husband and father who loves God above all else.

        I. on the other hand, was not raised in a Christian home where we prayed at meals or went to church. My parents aren’t Athiest and I think they do believe in God, but they definitely don’t have a relationship with Jesus and it definitely reflects in their lives.

        In the beginning of my marriage, I didn’t have the same views about a woman’s role as a wife that I do now because of the way I was raised. However, I have no problem whatsoever with the woman’s list. The reason I don’t have a problem with it is because 1) I am a Christian, I love the Lord, and I try very hard to obey what is written in the bible. 2) My husband shows me the utmost respect in every aspect of our marriage/lives, so why shouldn’t I do the same for him? 3) I love my role as wife and mother just the way it was intended by God. I also love that I have someone to care/watch over me, protect me, and cherish me.

        So, as you see, there are many things that may factor into how a specific person may view that list. In my opinion it really has nothing to do with “bowing down”, and everything to do with love and respect for each other.

        I would also like to say that it sounds like Lisa may have been in a terrible relationship in the past to even consider using the word “subvert”. That would also easily explain her “take” on the list.

      • I agree with you Jennifer. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home either. I had no idea what a godly marriage looked like. Fortunately, my husband was raised in a home filled with love and respect, even tho they weren’t all “lovey-dovey” but you knew it was there. I thank God everyday that my husband is who he is. He’s my hero, my friend, the love of my life.

    • Lisa, I have that same view. I agree with you. I saw that too. It’s as if they made a list just to pacify the wives, to hush us up. A smart woman sees through it. the list that women are asked to do, have some seriously, unfair and unrealistic things. That is why women get frustrated, we put unrealistic expectations on the wife. NOT FAIR !

    • It’s religion man. Christianity says to not be heard and to be submissive. Both articles need to use this without the quoted verses and just say:

      Don’t be a jerk.

  7. Broken families and marriages are a burden on my heart. The enemy is working overtime…homes are falling apart all around us and Christian couples are not excempt; in fact, there are as many (or more?) divorces among believers as there are among unbelievers. Each year in January, I participate in a mentoring program for young wives/mothers called Apples of Gold…it’s an awesome event. Each lesson is taught by a different “mentor.” Most of the things on your list I use in my lesson. Many of our mentorees have expressed how much the lesson(s) have meant to them and their families. It can be life-changing. I also highly recommend the book “Love & Respect – The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It’s awesome…such a simple Biblical concept, but one that is often overlooked. I give the book as wedding presents and wish it was mandatory reading for engaged couples. Thank you for what you do for families. God bless you.

  8. This is a beautiful list. You and your wife are greatly blessed and a blessing to those you touch.

  9. I read your wife’s blog entry–25 ways to show respect for your husband–and she linked your article. Honestly, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by her list and thought to myself: “I can’t do this! This is ridiculous!” But when I read your list, I thought: “YES!” to EVERY. Single. One. Which made me reconsider my attitude about her list. So. Thank you for posting. This is great.

    • Wife is napping at the moment, but I want to do this with her later. The religious parts are dumb and the woman’s list needs editing to just say to not be a jerk instead of being all submissive to him.

  10. This list you have are absurd, no offense but some of these things are way out there. There’s no perfect marriage and no way of making it perfect. I’ve been married 9 years now, he farts in front me, im not always dressed up. We’re both head of the household even if he brings home the check. I just want everyone to understand, every relationship is different, as long as you’re happy with your spouse nothing else matters. Next time make the list shorter & keep the actual helpful relationship facts. Btw, I have sex when I want not when he wants & the same vice versa.

  11. One comment for husbands: “Wives submit to your husband” ought to be a terrifying and sobering verse for you. It does not just give you power, it gives you a TON of responsibility. The power bestowed by God is routinely for the sole and specific purpose of fulfilling a responsibility, and this is one of the heaviest responsibilities that can fall upon a man’s shoulders.

    Here’s a couple places we can understand this: A sports team. Imagine that your whole team is told to submit to you. That would make you the head coach. You are responsible for whether your team wins or loses. You are responsible for calling the plays. You are responsible for training. You are responsible for being up to date on the latest news, on the best training techniques, to be well-versed on your opposition. Wining and losing is on the line, and it rests on your shoulders. That’s a “light” example of what it means to be a leader.

    Let’s step it up. Military command. Being the officer in the field with a mission to carry out. Being in charge, and whether your team lives or dies rests on your shoulders. Make stupid decisions, you get everyone killed. Make stupid decisions, your mission fails, and God-only-knows what the repercussions of THAT might be. You have to know what you’re doing. You must know yourself, and you must know your enemy, and you must know your terrain, and you and your team must ALL know what to do – not even just how best to get through moments, but the big picture, the rules of engagement, and the fact that what you do here and now affects a lot more than just you, a lot more than just here, and a lot more than just now.

    If we look at it less like “Hey guy! You get to have your way!” and more like “Excuse me, sir, this responsibility falls to you” we will come to leadership of our wives and our families with much more love and a much more sober attitude in how we go about making those decisions.

    There’s this pastor’s two cents. http://www.QXChurch.org

    • If all men actually did it that way, I think almost all women would be overjoyed and very, very few would have any problem submitting to that kind of leadership – just as no sports player has any problem submitting to the will of a winning coach or any marine has a problem submitting to the orders of a winning captain.

      • Thanks again for your wonderful insights. I am amazed at how many people look at these lists in the worst possible light, a haunted house sort of light, with flickering shadows of things that are not there. It makes me wonder what is smeared on the windshield of their life, since all they can see is ugliness in something so beautiful.

      • In sports and the Military, it’s not submitting your will.

        It’s closer to a mutual respect of position. If the commander commands well, the soldier will follow him, under his own will. In-turn the commander will trust his underlings. Symbiotic stuff man.

  12. These Lists are not equal in anyway.
    Her’s is titled with respect and his is titled with love.
    Where is her respect?
    Five of his suggestions are easily the same category of “don’t be gross, clean up after yourself.”
    His list should include some of her suggestions if they want the lists to be comparable. He should include don’t interrupt, don’t nag, don’t complain, don’t correct, and honor her wishes as well.
    I know love and respect go hand in hand, but it doesn’t seem like it when hers is “how to show respect” and his isn’t.

    • Plato is said to have taken general principles and derived specifics from them. Aristotle is said to have taken the specifics of life and derived general principles from them. Our hope is that these lists will help people to do a little of both in regards to their marriages. By reading over the specific examples listed, we hope people will better see the over-arching theme of putting their spouses needs ahead of their own. Once people begin to see their spouse in that light, they can fill in the details in a way that is tailored to their own situation.

      • That response has nothing to do with my comment.
        Obviously these are not the only examples to live your marriage by. But you still have your lists written in a way where her respect for you is more important than your respect for her. Especially when hers mentions more than once that she should listen to what you say and do what you tell her to do, with no equal suggestion in your list other than valuing her “input” to YOUR decisions. Even my very Christian sister and her husband see the flaws in this.

      • I don’t think the lists were meant to be the same, nor were the lists meant to be a reflection of one another. Did you see something in this list that means it is not important to respect your wife? Did you see something in her list that said it is not important to love your husband? If so, maybe I missed it.

        I counsel couples all the time. While some men talk about whether their wives love them, we do get more comments from husbands about their wives not showing respect. Two of the biggest is how she refers to him like he’s another one of her children, and how she nags him like he’s one of the kids. While some women talk about not feeling respected, most talk about a lack of connection, a lack of intimacy (emotional, but also sometimes physical), being disregarded in all sorts of little things (like the toilet seat, and him not turning off the television or not putting down the magazine when they’re talking).

        So I see these lists played out in day-to-day marriages. The type of direction the statistically average woman needs is different, too. On a relational level, about 80% of women can put a more general principle into action. On a relationship level, it seems to be between a fifth up to half of men seem easily able to do the same – they often want more concrete examples of exactly what to do (like “put your dirty clothes in the hamper”). Maybe the general population is different, but this is what I see in my office.

        Thus, when I saw these lists appearing so different and with such different themes and approaches, I simply chalked it up to “she wrote what she felt was important to her husband from the point of view of a woman” and “he wrote what he thought was important to his wife from the point of view of a man.” Pretty simple to me.

        Something that might be helpful would be to write your own lists for your own life. I’m sure you’d have many wonderful ideas, and, frankly, could easily make a list of 50 by combining both of the lists here.

        And please don’t overlook the reciprocal items, either. Some are small (which would a typical male feeling like he is making some progress) and some are absolutely life-changingly massive (requiring a major shift in thinking and behaving on the part of SOME males), and while I would always include an easy suggestion for an easy win, I also include hard stuff that become “compass heading goals” to give the husband something to always be moving toward. I see some of those in here.

        In fact, if you were to just take a look and grab the three that would require a biggest change from most men, three things that most wives would LOVE, what would those three things be?

      • Please see my earlier response to Lisa and Scot’s response to you. We aren’t trying to create one size fits all lists. Men and women are very different on many levels and individual men and women vary even more still.

  13. Wow. What year is it?

    • 2012, but the Golden Rule is timeless!

      • God’s Word is definitely timeless and if you believe one word of it, you must believe it all. These are God’s rules, not Doug’s or anyone else’s. God gave us the directions for having a successful marriage, but you have to actually read and follow the directions! We don’t get to pick and chose which commands we’re going to follow.

      • Christ basically gave us two commands – Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and Love others as yourself. We are just trying to give some concrete examples of how to follow that second command within the context of marriage. Certainly nothing we have said is written in stone, but the underlying principles definitely are.

  14. It is amazing how, when the husband is NOT doing the things on the “love your wife” list, how OFFENSIVE the “how to respect your husband” list appears. On the other hand, if a man is prayerfully doing his best to fulfill his own wife’s needs (which may vary, mine are pretty close to the list you posted) then that list of how to respect him suddenly becomes not only doable but a privilege to follow. Sadly, men are not raised anymore to be leaders. None of this works if the man doesn’t take the FIRST STEP and love FIRST. That’s what leadership means in this context, not being the “boss”. It means being man enough to humble yourself and admit your desperate need and desire for a helpmate. THAT is respectable behavior! It is human nature to sit back and say “When you respect me, I’ll love you” and “When you love me, I’ll respect you” so God conveniently provided for that by designating whose job it is to lead. It is the man’s job to start the ball rolling and quit blaming his wife for how unhappy he is or how disrespectful she is. A Godly woman will naturally and joyfully respect a man who loves her “as Christ loves the church”. So many times the woman is quite willing (especially in my experience with Christian couples) to do ANYTHING to make things right but the man is not willing to stick his neck out and love her. A man will never FEEL respected until he respects himself. That self respect comes from knowing he is loving his wife and meeting her needs as God has commanded him to. You lead, we respond. The energy can only flow in that direction. A woman can do her part and honor God, but the relationship will still pretty much stink for both parties until the man steps up and is brave enough to love extravagantly. Not preaching to you, you obviously have the right idea. Just putting my thoughts into the discussion.

    • Great comment Tammy. I find it ironic that much of the recent “Christian Patriarchy” movement is actually driven by women. It is basically wives getting fed up and saying, “Look, you need to be a leader and here’s how you do it.” But the reality is that most men are not natural leaders, nor do they naturally love their wives in a self-sacrificing Christ-like way. If those things came naturally then there would be no need for the command in Scripture. Commands in scripture almost always run counter to our natural inclinations and underscore our need for the supernatural intervention of a loving Savior!

    • Anyone mind if this pastor gives a shout out? “AMEN!”

  15. Sadly many homes are led by women because men have no idea how to do it or they just WON’t…they’ve never seen it modeled. It’s time for godly people to step up and do some teaching on the subject. There are some really good resources that could be used. One example is “Honor Begins At Home” (for men) by Randy Alcorn and “The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer. Both of them are based on the movie “Courageous.” Our Church had separate classes for men and women this summer and it was really powerful.

  16. I, personally, do not feel that my husband should be responsible for making the decisions, no matter how big. I do appreciate that it was suggested that the Wife’s opinion should be considered, but that really doesn’t seem to place any sort of importance on actually using it to make the decision. I do agree that everyone’s marriages are different and that everyone has different situations to deal with, but I believe that in a marriage, the Husband and Wife should be considered equals, not one having more responsibility or power in the relationship over the other. I feel that it leads to more respect given to each, as well as understanding. If the responsibilities are shared equally, it is easier to understand how the other feels about things. I know views on how relationship should be handled has changed much over the last 40 years or so, but I can see benefits to the “old fashioned” way of living as well as the “modern” way. I think applying some of each to any marriage will do nothing but help to strengthen it.

    Even though I may not agree to everything that was included in both of these lists, I appreciated reading them and plan to apply much to my marriage. Thank you for the posts.

  17. Practice Servant-Leadership?
    SORRY WHAT??

    • It’s a koan.

      • What’s a koan?

        < Trish Bowman <

        Dios es bueno todo el tiempo!

      • A koan is a buddhist term for a seemingly contradictory statement that forces one to stop and think more deeply about a subject so as to bring about an even greater enlightenment. Servant-Leadership should not be a koan or an oxymoron. Leaders SHOULD serve those they lead. Servant-Leadership only appears contradictory because we have grown accustomed to those in power using that power to benefit themselves, often to the detriment of their followers.

        Plato felt that those who most desired to rule were least suited to do so because they invariably had ulterior motives. His solution was that leaders should be conscripted into service the way soldiers are drafted into the military. In a sense, the Biblical command for husbands to be leaders in the home is exactly that — men being conscripted to serve their wives and children! I’ve given the example of Christ washing his disciples feet, then dying on their behalf, but there are plenty of examples from modern times.

        I work in the healthcare industry and, although there are always exceptions, the rule is that physicians and nurses put the patient’s needs ahead of their own. The book Mountains Beyond Mountains tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard professor, who works a few months each year in the United States so he can save up enough money to spend the rest of the year in Haiti working with the poorest of the poor and sickest of the sick! A humbling and inspiring example to all of us!

        The early Christians were noted by the Romans for giving self-sacrificially to everyone in need, whether they shared the Christian faith or not, becoming the de facto welfare system for the Roman empire even as it crumbled. In that spirit, my family and I helped found a church seven and a half years ago that owns no private property, but rather encourages its members to give of their time and money to helping the needy in their own communities and around the world. We actually support more missionaries than we have members and seldom have a full house because so many people are away doing mission work themselves.

  18. I read both. This list is nice, and my husband actually does most of it. The other felt like I was supposed to lie back and think of England. Or June Cleaver.

    • My wife likes classical music and I like classic rock. She tends to be more formal and I’m a little more laid back, but our goal of encouraging husbands and wives to put their spouses needs ahead of their own is the same.

  19. I wonder what results we might get if we had women do two things: 1. Make a list of 25 things you would most like, and 2. Make a list of 25 things your husband would most like.

    Also have the men do the same, 25 they would most like and 25 they think their wives would most like.

    Then we’ll see how much overlap we have between the giving and asking, between what people think the other wants and what they say they want.

    It would also be interesting to see how the lists might vary by marital status and relationship status.

    In fact, if anyone objected, I might ask “Suppose we struck whatever you found offensive from the list, what do you think should replace it?”

    • Great suggestions as usual. It reminds me of an exercise I do with my older kids. I tell them to make a list of all the things they desire in a spouse – hard working, compassionate, loves kids, etc… Then I tell them to develop those same qualities within themselves, because that is what they truly value and also the kind of people they will ultimately attract. It would be silly to say I want to marry someone athletic and I’m going to sit here eating potato chips until they jog by. No, you go do a triathlon or join the bike club!
      I do a similar exercise myself regarding life goals. I ask myself, “If I won the lottery, how would I spend my time and money?” Then I try to figure out how to do those very same things today with the time and money I do have. If I say that I would spend more time with the kids and give money to help the homeless, then why not volunteer to work WITH the kids at Habitat for Humanity one Saturday a quarter? It achieves the same two objectives, but doesn’t cost a dime!

  20. Great list! As a wife of 20 years, I agree with each and every item, but would like to add one more: compliment her appearance! We women are almost always insecure about our looks and our bodies, but a few words from my hubs about how beautiful or (dare I say it?) sexy I look from time to time goes a long way toward building my confidence!

    • Renee, I actually had a powerful illustration of this over the weekend. As much as I think I already understand how much encouragement women often need from their men about beauty, this was a powerful story I’ll use when I teach.

      Since it was my birthday, my wife agreed to my crazy request to do a photo shoot. A lot of our “shoot” was a pause here and there as we meandered around El Paseo shops and The Gardens in Palm Desert. Thanks to this digital age, we got to look at the photos right away.

      She had to admit that some of the pictures were just gorgeous.

      Here’s an experiment to try that you can do with any camera or camera-equipped cell phone. Take a picture of someone’s whole body from eye-level. Then take another from waist level or even thigh level. The same person, the same pose, the same everything – but changing camera angles, makes them look taller, stately, lengthens the legs, lifts the chest, and more.

      You’ll notice a lot of photos of models use similar techniques, not to mention lighting, background, professional make up, professional styling, and even then, they STILL photoshop the best of the dozens of photos they take. Even the models don’t look like that!!!

      When my wife looks at herself in the mirror, she always sees herself from eye level. She sees her body “foreshortened” (which makes her feel she’s fat). Because she is often looking closely to do her makeup or hair, she’s specifically looking for what’s out of place to put it in place, what needs to be covered, what needs to be accented… basically training her “look in the mirror” to look for what’s wrong.

      When she saw some of the photos I took of her, she got a glimmer of understanding that maybe, just maybe, when I as her husband says she’s beautiful, I’m not crazy. I know of that of which I speak!

      I got a lot of great shots of her sitting casually at a table at the mall, enjoying some shopping (and some really amazing shoes she found), lounging around the condo, working out. Some of it was angles, some was capturing that smile and those eyes at just the right moment… and all of it was illuminating so she can see, finally, what I’m looking at when I tell her she is gorgeous!

      If there was a way to post images, I’d post one of them with her easy smile we took sitting outside Pottery Barn. Even with her wearing her sunglasses, you can still feel her shine even though you can’t see her eyes. (We tried some shots with her sunglasses off, but it was SO bright that she could not help but squint….).

      Now she knows what I see…. and, Renee, you can bet I’ll remember to tell her often!

    • Love the suggestion. Please consider it to be the unofficial #26!

  21. The reason why the husband’s list is about loving and the wife’s list is about respecting is because that’s what the other needs most. Women crave love and men crave respect. It doesn’t mean that men don’t also need love and women don’t also need respect, but it will mean more to men to be respected primarily and women to be loved primarily. If those needs are met, the others follow suit.

    Just because you go out of your way to respect your husband doesn’t mean you don’t get respect yourself. When someone does something nice for you, don’t you think to yourself, “Wow, that was thoughtful. I should do something like that for them in return sometime”? It will make it’s way back to you, but it’s all about being the bigger person and making the first step.

    Respecting your husband in these small ways also doesn’t mean that you’re a “slave.” To be honest, it means that you’re thoughtful and sacrificial, because you’d be thinking of his needs before your own.

    • I’ve been around smart powerful women my whole life. Usually, they are awash in respect. Their talent, intelligence, and wisdom command it. They find respect wherever they go. Their employers respect their hard work and dedication; their colleagues respect their insights and integrity; their church and charitable organization leaders respect their contributions of time and resources to the various causes; their children’s teachers and coaches respect their involvement and commitment; even their neighbors respect their polite disposition and manicured yards. Respect is all around them; but love, that is something else entirely. It is not so easy to find and often even harder to keep. For a woman to be loved by a man — passionately, deeply, with all that he is towards all that she is — is a rare thing indeed. It’s an ephemeral thing that cannot be earned the way respect can. But it’s a gift a husband can give to his wife every day of her life, and when he does it is both beautiful and magical.

  22. Very well said :) Now everyone leaving negative comments on your wife’s post just needs to come and read that!

  23. This is disgusting. If you think that a healthy relationship has a hierarchy, you must be thinking of your dog. Or your employees. Or a piece of garbage. Seriously, work on respecting your wife.

    • I don’t have a dog. She won’t allow it!

      • Good try at a cute response. Whatever, you’re happy living in the past. Have a good time with that, and have fun when your children have to go to therapy to deal with your example of a healthy marriage.

      • You can’t please everyone. It’s great that we encourage free speech. It is also curious that the same group that touts “tolerance” is the most intolerant. Not only that, also the most rude.

  24. I’d love to see a version for children. How to earn and show respect………….seems toooooo many kids these days are not schooled there, and as we all know, things are not well with many of our youngsters.

    • That is actually on my “to do” list for the near future! I may need to do a younger kids version and a teenage version, since the maturity gap would change some of the suggestions. If you or any other readers want to share ideas here, I will post them, and then compile the best 25 for each age group into a blog with a printable version for the refrigerator.

  25. loving number 12…tho i dnt stay at home wif the young ones…im working..then..im home wif the kids…make the tea etc…… but that number 12..definitly need more of that!!!

  26. Wow it’s very helpful thank you guys for sharing.

  27. This list is missing something along the 1 Corinth 7 lines…
    # 26: Husbands should “only have eyes for their wife” (and do what you can to honor this). Like you said in your vows, you promised to “forsake all others.” This goes a long way–not just in private, but also in public: when watching TV, when on a date night, on the internet, etc. Gents, whenever you not only stare at another woman in a way that not only dishonors your wife but commits “adultery” in your heart, you steal what is owed to your wife: your eyes for her as a man in a covenant with her.

    Cherishing your wife means cherishing and this means appreciating her beauty–she’s your life partner; she’s cooked your meals; she’s picked up after you; she’s got your back; she may even have your kids and raise them too. She’s amazing!

    Further, only having eyes for your wife will definitely encourage women to engage in more intimacy. She feels sexy. She feels confident. She is encouraged to wear her hair a certain way. And her heart skips a beat–and that heartbeat can end up in the bedroom.

    Finally, having eyes for your wife sends a message all women pick up: it lets her know she’s “first” before all other women. After all, she puts you ahead of all the others in every way, whether in the little things or the big things of life….

    • I touch on this in #14, but “eyes only for her” in all that entails is a good point!

    • That was the exact thing I thought was missing! I could not had said this better.

    • this is absolutely ridiculous! men are going to be attracted to other women! women are going to be attracted to other men! why???because we are humans, not robots!!! if your spouse cannot handle it if you find another person physically attractive then THEY need to work on themselves! all of this would just come naturally if people were taught to respect themselves and not that their worth lies in the opinions of their spouse. i find this utterly offensive!!! we are all God’s children and valuable in His eyes! Stop looking to someone else to define you!!!

  28. I saw your wife’s version and then read this. This actually made me appreciate my husband even more. I tend to get stuck in nit-picking (I know I shouldn’t and am working on it) but after reading this I realized that my husband works very hard to make me happy. He does all of these things and has since the day I married him.

    • You have a good man! I was looking over the list this weekend and realized I was struggling with a few of the items on the list despite the fact that I wrote the list!! Thankfully, I have a gracious wife and it sounds like your husband does too.

  29. Dr. Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs in their book, Love and Respect, encourage the person who considers themselves “most mature” to start the process of honoring their spouse. Well, my husband has definitely been the most mature, and has been doing most of this list most of our 10 year marriage, honing and adding things as the years have gone by. I will tell you – boy, is it motivating! I won’t claim to be nearly as good a spouse as my husband. However, his love and kindness toward me has definitely softened my heart over time and I am a much more respectful wife than I used to be. All that to say – this works! Great article!

    • Thanks. It really does work regardless of which spouse is the initiator. In our relationship my wife is the one who decided to be respectful even when I wasn’t loving. It didn’t take me long to catch on, and our lives have been infinitely better ever since. I like to think of it as the peaceful non-violence of Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr. applied to marriage!

  30. Every man must understand different women have different wants thus the way you express your love should go handy with how she wants to be loved and her needs!

  31. #19 is crazy. Hobbies and friends are important to ones individuality! I wouldn’t want my husband to *always* pick me.

    • I agree that friends and hobbies are important. I am NOT saying to eliminate them. I AM saying that from time to time you will be “forced” to choose between your wife and something else that is important to you. If your goal is to show your wife that you love her, you should “always” choose her. If your goal is to aggravate her, then you should “always” choose the something else. If your goal is to keep her guessing about your loyalty, then you should mix it up a little. Your BFF takes precedence over her, but so-so friends don’t. Let me give an example. You have made it five years and your anniversary falls on a Wednesday. Unbeknownst to you, your wife has arranged a surprise romantic dinner at her favorite restaurant and is hoping to discuss the possibility of starting a family in the near future. Unfortunately, Wednesday is also the night of the fantasy football league draft in the man-cave at your best friend’s house. Guy thinking says to push the anniversary celebration to Friday and enjoy the best of both worlds. Win-win. I’m saying don’t do it. Don’t even let on that you are conflicted about it! Give your draft picks to your buddy, hope for the best, and celebrate your anniversary. Then for bonus points, have your friend leave a message on your answering machine about missing you at the draft, but he respects the fact that your wife is way more important to you than football. Which, hopefully, is true!

  32. While much of your 25 ways to respect your husband and 25 ways to show your wife you love her are fundamental to any healthy relationship, I find many things quite disturbing, but they all stem from this idea that a woman is a lesser being than a man.
    Why is it that a wife’s guide is to show respect, while the husbands guide is not of the same tone or caliber. We are equals and any woman or man who does not recognize that is allowing ancient patriarchal stereotypes and practices rule. It is at the dark and dirty base of these teachings and practices that allow for cultures to treat women with disrespect, negligence and violence.
    My husband and I are equals in our very happy marriage. We earn equal pay (rare in this society and business practices), we share responsibilities around the house and yard, we cook together, we do things together and allow time apart, we are family planning and share our joys and disappointments. Our marriage has its challenges and rewards as most/all do, but we share all responsibilities and benefits.
    I realize every relationship has its own parameters and dynamics, but to suggest,let alone blatantly state, that the basic rights and roles of two individuals are not equal is hurtful to me, my (someday) children, our society and the world at large.
    You’re entitled to your opinion, just as I am entitled to mine, thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

    • Bethany, I agree with your comment. It’s good to read a comment from a woman who sounds, enlightened, strong, and confident, and who is able to observe from all sides.The husband’s list was not with as much meat and substance as the wife’s list. There seemed to be a somewhat condescending tone given in the wife’s list. I don’t know one woman who does not want respect from her husband.

      Example: Can you imagine a man dancing with another woman at a party all night, while the wife just sits there and as you all say, “Don’t nag him or complain.” Tell me why this wife would not yearn for respect.

  33. You lost me at the very first statement. Putting the needs of anyone else before your own is a recipe for resentment, if not outright disaster. The key to a successful relationship is to prioritize the needs of others after ensuring that your own are met.

    • Thank you for your insight and your honesty! The first statement is the cornerstone of the whole blog. The 25 items are merely practical examples of that first concept of “putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own.” If you disagree with that premise, then arguing over the details is pointless. Likewise, if you agree with the premise, then the details can be tailored to your own situation.

      The real question is whether or not putting others ahead of yourself is a valid approach to life in general or marriage in particular. Modern psychological theory tells us that the best approach to relationships of all types is “tit-for-tat.” Basically, “Scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” combined with “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” If you always give, people take advantage of you. If you always take, people begrudge you. Find a happy balance!

      Christianity says forget about balance. Always give, and just allow people to take advantage of you. Jesus said, “If a man asks you to walk with him for one mile, go with him two. If he strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other also.” He also said that “if someone sins against you seven times seventy,” you should forgive them. As Jesus died on the cross he cried out, “Father, forgive them!” So did Stephen, when he was stoned. So did early Christians killed in the arenas of Rome. So have countless martyrs down through the ages, even to this very day in Sudan.

      Not very balanced. Not protective of the Self and its best interests. So unusual and contrary to our instincts that I will go on record as calling it supernatural. To have that level of love for your fellow man, to be concerned for the welfare of your enemies even as they slay you, requires a strength that none of us possesses on our own. God alone can give us that kind of power.

      Now take that supernatural power, strength, and love and channel it towards your spouse. It’s the sort of thing a “to do” list can never really capture.

      • Pastor Scot here from QXChurch.org. Here’s a short version of what I teach: “Give to Givers Who Give.” When I put the needs of my wife ahead of my needs, AND my wife puts my needs ahead of her needs, we create a balance of Give & Give.

        It’s not Give & Take. It’s Give & Give. I give to her. She gives to me. She graciously accepts what I give to her. I graciously accept what she gives to me.

        Of course there are many permutations and potential pitfalls if one gives and the other takes. If you keep giving to a taker you might have fallen into a co-dependency trap and you are actually rewarding (and thus encouraging) bad behavior.

        So here’s the simple, basic lessons again: Give to Givers Who Give.

      • I agree with the Pastor Scot. I’d love to know how to change this enabling/co-dependency that I’ve created.

  34. Hey there,
    Thanks for both you and your wife for compiling these lists. Lots of good thoughts. (I did not have time to read all the comments previous- so this is not a response to comments but to the original posts.)

    Two thoughts

    1) one thing that makes the woman’s list easier to receive is if the man’s list openly states that men should also respect their wives, that it isn’t just something that women are called to. I know it is implied in your “Lose the condescending attitude” point- which is a great point, but I think a lot of women would like to hear it plainly said that it is part of loving your wife to respect her.

    The reason I mention it is that many women do not have husbands that respect them, and it is difficult to respect and admire someone like that. It is easier to make an effort, when you know it is the thing that person is exhorted to do, even if they are not following through. Does that make sense?

    2) Another thing that ignites a woman’t passion for a man is when he sees himself as a participator in the household upkeep. He is a part of keeping the household running. Not just the monetary funding of it. That means he doesn’t “help” around the house, he participates in the upkeep by doing things…. dishes, laundry etc. It seems some men think that they could do that stuff before they were married while working full time but not after- afterwards it is their wife’s responsibility. What ends up happening is the wife gets very tired and overwhelmed and can feel like everybody’s household servant. Yes, her attitude is important, but how would you like to be treated that way? My husband is awesome- we share responsibilities (yes, i do the majority of some things and most of the childcare) but this sharing gives me more time and energy for other things like ministering to those around me, and investing in my relationship with my husband and kids.

    Neither of these points are criticisms of your posts, just my added thoughts which I know you mentioned making our own lists….. you also invited dialogue….so that’s my two cents.

    • Good thoughts.

    • I agree completely with your number two Karen L. I’ve heard it said that we value what we put our time into. I have also seen that a man can think all a woman appreciates is his money. Well… It is sad that he has devalued himself to that position due to his lack of involvement in the home. If a woman tries to request more involvement then she is considered as a nag.

      It is a disservice for a man to think his only contribution to the family is going to work and earning a paycheck.
      *Granted, Providing for the family is #2 on my list, and good to the kiddos being #1.
      However, being dead weight when you’re home is a waste of a life.

  35. I read your wife’s list before yours. After reading hers, I figured yours would be even more offensive, archaic and infuriating. Surprisingly, it is not. That’s not to say that I find this list to be completely inoffensive, mind you. Putting the seat down and picking up your clothes is just common courtesy and should go without saying. Number nine implies that as the man you have some sort of right to make decisions regarding your finances and your wife should just be grateful to you when you choose to bestow upon her whatever you feel she may deserve at the time (as in: awww, my wife sure does look purty today, maybe I’ll throw her a little bedazzled bone). Number ten is completely offensive and ridiculous. Do you actually look at yourself as a leader and your wife the follower? If so, how can you possibly respect her? Maybe you don’t. I don’t see anything about respect in this post. Number twenty two is condescending in its very nature by implying that you are in a position to be condescending in the first place. Number twenty three makes the assumption that the decision making process is all yours and the little wifeypoo is just lucky that you are willing to consider her input (again, I am reminded of a dog and a bone). The rest of this post, however, is not bad…listening, encouraging, having patience, praying together, finding forgiveness in your heart and expressing love are all good things that I believe both a husband and a wife should be willing to freely give to one another to make their relationship great.

    • Something I find truly baffling is how many people equate leader/follower to somehow the leader having no respect for the follower. Depending upon my role, I am sometimes the leader and sometimes the follower. When I lead, I have tremendous respect for those I lead, and I serve them as a leader. When I follow, I feel my leaders certainly have respect for me, or I would not follow. When I lead, I take into account the mission (where applicable), the team, and the long-term big picture. I take input from those I lead, often deferring to greater insight and expertise where I know my own direct knowledge is limited. When I follow, I expect my leaders to be doing the same. When I train leaders, I teach them to do the same.

      The sort of “leadership” complained of would not qualify as leadership to me. The sort of “submission” many complain of would not qualify as submission to me, either. I wonder and am saddened at how so many people seem to see the issue – since none of us is the ultimate leader in anything, and all of us must lead somewhere and follow other-wheres. To imply that there is some sort of mandatory disrespect of those who follow certainly makes me want to make certain such a person never, ever has a leadership position in any way, shape or form where I have a say.

  36. I think women must also be careful with male friendship. Anyway, I’ll be much grateful if such information will be posted into my e-mail address. Thank you.

  37. Great list. I would put #18 much higher on the list. It could almost be FIRST on the list. It is first on my list. A man who plays with, loves on, encourages, teaches, and protects
    a woman’s child(ren) is down right sexy (regardless of his outer looks). The others are important but this one is huge.

    I also think your list for women to respect her man is great also.

    Thanks.

  38. I enjoy spending time with my husband when we are out with others. It is then, that I am reminded of why I enjoyed him in the beginning of our relationship. At home he moans, groans, and mopes around. When we go out to eat alone, we sit in silence. It is sad that I do not get the happy go lucky, fun loving attitude that is shared with others.

    I have said, you give your best to others. Those people will not be there to clean you up when you are sick, hurt, or old. Don’t I deserve your best?

  39. @Cee, wow, I loved your post on Nov 19. It was great and explained how most women feel about this. You made me and others laugh. Thanks Cee !!

  40. Please send me anything you think that would help me in being a more honorable, loving man to my wife. Thank you, JT

    • “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is excellent and several people have recommended “Love and Respect” by Eggerichs, as well. Of course, I Corinthians 13 from the Bible (the love chapter) is always a great place to start!

  41. The one that bothers me most is 18. Though the intent is good, there’s something fundamentally wrong with thinking about the children as hers exclusively. You should cherish your children because they’re your children and you love them. It’s exactly like one time in church when I heard something similar said in a lesson about marriage. The speaker recommended that husbands help their wives out by tidying up and “babysitting the children”. Excuse me?? A man does not babysit his children- he’s their father. He’s expected to be a father to them at all times.

    • Ideally what you say is true. The reality is that many families today are blended. I worded it intentionally to cover a variety of situations and because step-relationships can be a source of great strife in many modern marriages.

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