Loving AND Respecting Your Wife

Back when my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, she published a post on her blog called 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband, and I published a post on mine called 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife.

Surprisingly, I drew criticism for making LOVE the focus of my list, rather than RESPECT. This offended some of my readers, who (rightly) felt that women are every bit as entitled to respect as men.

But while I agree that women deserve respect, I do not believe they crave it. Certainly not in the same way most men do.

The thing women crave most is love.

Women DESERVE RESPECT, no question, but what they CRAVE is LOVE...

I’ve been around smart, powerful women my whole life. Usually, they are awash in respect. They find respect wherever they go.

Their talent, intelligence, and wisdom command it.

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.

Love is not so easy to find and often even harder to keep.

For a woman to be loved by a man — deeply, passionately, unconditionally, with all that he is towards all that she is — that 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.


This post is excerpted from my new book, 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife: A Handbook for Husbands, on sale now. Pick up your copy today and give your wife the LOVE she craves, as well as the RESPECT she deserves.

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What Is a Servant-Leader at Home?

3 Indispensable Characteristics of a Servant-Leader | All Truth is God's TruthAll organizations have a hierarchy. It’s impossible to function well without one. But being a leader isn’t the same as being a dictator. The best role model is Jesus Christ, not Joseph Stalin.

Although it’s a challenge to exercise authority while maintaining a spirit of humility, that is what being a godly leader entails. Jesus washed his disciples feet, then died on their behalf. Husbands are called to love their wives in the same self-sacrificing way:

  • “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26)
  • “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
  • “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant….” (Philippians 2:5-7)

The best leaders exhibit several qualities: They are transparent; they expect as much or more of themselves as of those they’re attempting to lead; and they put the good of the organization (or, in the case of a husband-leader, the good of the family) ahead of their own interests or any personal gain.

Let’s look at each of these three qualities in closer detail:

  1. First and foremost, a servant-leader is transparent.
  2. Transparency implies there are no hidden agendas. Everyone is on the same team, working toward the same goals, and those goals are clearly defined and understood. Transparency means honesty, fairness, forthrightness, and above all, accountability.

    Transparency with a spouse can be difficult. Some things are hard to talk about with anybody, let alone with someone we care about, someone of the opposite gender, someone whose admiration and respect we so deeply crave.

    A good rule of thumb is, if you’d be uncomfortable discussing it afterward with your wife, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

    Of course, personality differences can make even innocent discussions more difficult than they should be — I dreaded telling my sentimental wife when I recently traded in an old Ford truck she loved for two small economy cars, even though it made good financial sense to do so — but that isn’t what I’m talking about here.

    When it comes to being transparent with our children, that can be hard, too, but it is important that they know our weaknesses as well as our strengths, our failures as well as our victories. Because our kids share our humanity as well as our genes, their weaknesses will often mirror our own, and they’ll benefit from hearing how we’ve overcome various struggles. There is no need to go into great detail about your failings, but don’t pretend you are without faults.

    A servant-leader is quick to accept blame, apologize, and ask forgiveness whenever the situation warrants it. And he understands the importance of maintaining a clear conscience and therefore strives to behave in a way—both publicly and privately—that is honorable, dependable, and above reproach.

  3. Second, a servant-leader is not above the law.
  4. Nor does he consider himself above the law. The US Congress provides a classic example of the opposite of this principle, routinely passing bad legislation from which the lawmakers themselves are exempt.

    With a true servant-leader there is no such hypocrisy. The rules are applied equally to all. He expects as much or more of himself as of the people he leads, for he knows that as their leader, he will incur a stricter judgment.

    The father who smokes two packs a day, but warns his kids to never take up the habit? He isn’t doing himself, his children, or his health any favors.

    I may not struggle with hypocrisy in such an obvious way as this, yet I sometimes expect things of my wife and children that I am unwilling or unable to do myself:

    • I want them to hear me out, although I often interrupt.
    • I expect them to be patient and thoughtful and self-controlled, even when I haven’t been.
    • I would like for them to look their best, even if I skip shaving or look a little shabby myself.
    • I want them to control their emotions and refrain from pouting, crying, or acting moody in any way, yet sometimes I fail to control the temper that provokes such moodiness, sulkiness, and tears.

    And I do these things, despite the fact that Scripture repeatedly warns against such behavior:

    • “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
    • “[Love] does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth….” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6)
    • “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

    The take-home message? We need to be and do the things we want our wives and children to be and do. We should expect as much or more of ourselves as we do of them. We must lead by example.

  5. Third, a servant-leader thinks of others first.
  6. He puts the good of the organization ahead of his own needs or personal advantage. He leads selflessly and sacrificially. He considers the interests of others as more important than his own. (Philippians 2:3-4)

    I’ve known both styles of leaders: Those who use the organization to serve themselves, and those who use themselves to serve the organization.

    Although I’ve crossed paths with a few embezzlers over the years, embezzlement is not the only way to steal from a company. It’s just the most obvious way. Many people manipulate vacation schedules, work assignments, and tax credits to their own benefit. They are always watching out for number one, always looking for loopholes. Whatever will garner the best perks or put the most money in their pocket with the least amount of effort is what they will do, every time — whether it’s ethical or not.

    A servant-leader is the opposite. He does what is best for those he serves, even when it requires great personal sacrifice to do so. For the family man, this may mean driving mini-vans instead of sports cars, going on family vacations instead of golfing excursions, living in a modest home in suburbia instead of a high-rise apartment in the city, or getting braces for Junior instead of that new flat-screen TV.

The term “servant-leader” is what Buddhists would call a koan — a seemingly contradictory statement that forces a person to stop and think more deeply about a subject, so as to bring about an even greater enlightenment.

Yet leaders should serve those they lead. The only reason servant-leadership seems like a koan or an oxymoron to our society today is because we have grown so accustomed to leaders who abuse their power and use it to benefit themselves, often to the detriment of the people they are supposed to represent.

Plato felt that those who most desire to rule are least suited to do so, because they invariably have ulterior motives. His solution was that leaders be conscripted into service the way soldiers are drafted into the military.

In a sense, the Biblical command for husbands to be leaders in their homes is exactly that — men being conscripted by God to serve their wives and children.

Unfortunately, most men are not natural leaders, nor do they naturally love their wives in the self-sacrificing, Christ-like way God commands. If these things came naturally, there’d be no need for the associated directives 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!

Do you long for your wife to shower you with respect and admiration? Do you wish she would follow your lead without arguing or questioning your every decision?

You will never get the results you are looking for by being harsh and demanding. Even if you were to gain her cooperation, it would be given begrudgingly. That isn’t what godly servant-leadership looks like.

If you want your wife to follow your lead, then you must walk in a way that is worthy of respect. Lead in a way that inspires your family to follow.

Lead prayerfully. Lead gently. Guide them with humility, understanding, patience, faithfulness, temperance, and love.

As a husband, the responsibility falls to you for taking the lead in improving your marriage. Don’t blame your wife for your own failures in this area. You must work to earn her trust and confidence.

Prove yourself to be a man of integrity, a person who thinks things through — not a man who is shortsighted or rash or vindictive.

It is a sobering proposition to be the spiritual head of one’s home, to be held accountable before God for the spiritual health and welfare of one’s family.

We should shoulder this responsibility with an attitude of meekness. Inwardly, our focus should not be, “Alright!! I get to call the shots!” Rather, we should be thinking, “God has entrusted this responsibility to me, and I don’t want to flub it up.”

Such a heavy responsibility calls for a posture of prayer. Pray that God will enable you to relate to your wife and children as a wise servant-leader should: Love wholeheartedly. Love sacrificially. Love unconditionally. Love extravagantly. Consistently shower your wife with that brand of love, and chances are, it will eventually win her over. She’ll then happily follow you to the ends of the earth.

But what if it doesn’t? What if she won’t?

Then you’ve got to keep loving.

Love her, because God has commanded you to love her — not because of what you stand to gain from doing so. Love her and keep loving her, because you want to be obedient to Him.

He will receive the glory from your doing so. And that is the only success that will matter in the end.


This post first appeared on All Truth is God’s Truth. To read more, check out my novel:
The Prodigy Project by Doug Flanders, MD

Love Your Wife: Revisited

I commissioned my wife to do a little subway art for me this week. Here’s what she came up with:

Love Your Wife | subway art printable from http://alltruthisgodstruth.com

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it might serve as a good reminder for husbands that showing love to your wife is something you should do every day of the year — not just on special occasions.

Want to print a copy to keep? You can click on the image above to download a free printable PDF of the graphic.

You’ll find a matching “Respect Your Husband” graphic on my wife’s blog this week. Follow this link if you want to print that one.

Husband, Listen to Your Wife!

Husband, Listen to Your Wife! | All Truth is God's TruthMy father-in-law used to watch a lot of television. He was a little hard of hearing, so he usually kept the volume turned up pretty loud.

My wife’s mother would sometimes try to talk over the television to tell him something, but instead of muting the program and focusing his attention on her, Dad would just cup his ear and lean in closer to the set. Rather than tuning out the TV, he tried to tune out his wife!

Although we don’t have a television at our house, my wife still catches me “tuning out” occasionally. She’ll be in the middle of telling me a story, and I’ll be staring off into space, mentally rehashing some event or conversation from earlier in the day. Whether the distractions are internal or external, our wives can easily tell when we’re not paying attention.

Calvin Coolidge once said, “It takes a great man to be a good listener.” And do you know what? He was right.

So how can we learn to listen better? Here are five basic things husbands can do to hone their listening skills:

  • First, minimize distractions.

    Kids who are being boisterous should be made to settle down or sent to another room. Televisions and radios should be turned down or completely off. Laptops should be closed and cellphones pocketed. I normally place my phone or tablet face down beside me to physically demonstrate to my wife that she does, indeed, have my full attention.

  • Second, make eye contact.

    It may feel awkward at first, especially if you are accustomed to staring at your shoes or at the newspaper, but this is essential to letting your wife know you care about what she has to say. Look into her eyes, even if it’s hard. One of our sons had a difficult time looking people in the eye when he was younger. Even so, we insisted he do it, because we realized his habit of avoiding eye contact would cripple his ability to communicate and might even make him appear untrustworthy. With practice, he was able to overcome that unconscious quirk and is now one of the most comfortable, confident, and outgoing young men one could ever hope to meet.

  • Third, give frequent affirmation.

    Do you get what your wife is saying? Nod your head in understanding. Do you agree? Let her know that. Say positive things like, “Uh-huh” and “I see.” These things will communicate to her that you are paying attention and following her train of thought.

  • Fourth, ask questions.

    If you don’t understand something your wife has just told you, don’t pretend like you do. Instead, ask insightful, intelligent questions. This allows you clarify any ambiguities in what you think you heard her say (and it also helps her know for sure when she’s gotten her point across).

  • Fifth and finally, summarize.

    Repeat back, in a nutshell, what your wife just told you. This serves to cement what was discussed into your memory and reassures your beloved that she has truly been heard.

Although these five suggestions may seem difficult initially, they will begin to flow more naturally after you’ve gotten a little practice doing them. The best part is that, once you really begin to listen, you’ll be amazed at what interesting thoughts your wife has to share!

Praying for Your Wife from Head to Toe

Praying for Your Wife from Head to Toe

As I mentioned in 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife, praying with and for your wife is a critical component of a healthy marriage.

Here is a companion graphic to go with my wife’s Praying For Your Husband From Head to Toe. She made them both, but it made more sense to put this one on my blog than hers.

Whether you reference this prayer guide or not, I hope you will make it a habit to pray for your wife daily. If you’d like to download a free printable version of our head-to-toe plan to use as a reminder, just click on the image at right. Enjoy.

  • Pray for Her Brain:
  • Pray that God would mold her into a capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman and would keep her thoughts centered on whatever is true, lovely, right, pure, noble, and worthy of praise. (Proverbs 31:10; Philippians 4:8)

  • Pray for Her Eyes:
  • Ask God to give her eyes of compassion, so she could see others as He sees them. (Matthew 9:36; 1 Samuel 16:7b)

  • Pray for Her Ears:
  • Pray that she would listen for God’s still, small voice and would remain ever attentive to the His promptings.
    (Matthew 11:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:19)

  • Pray for Her Mouth:
  • Ask that God would fill her mouth with skillful and godly wisdom, that the law of kindness would remain on her tongue, and that she would only and always speak the truth in love . (Proverbs 31:26; Ephesians 4:15)

  • Pray for Her Heart:
  • Pray that God would fill your wife’s heart with love and respect for you and with tender patience toward your children. (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Thessalonians 2:7)

  • Pray for Her Arms:
  • Ask God to gird your wife with strength, making her arms strong and firm. Pray that He would bless the work of her hands and that she would do her work cheerfully, as unto Him. (Proverbs 31:17, 31; Colossians 3:23)

  • Pray for Her Womb:
  • Pray that God would bless the fruit of her womb by giving her children who walk in truth. (Psalm 127:3; 3 John 1:4)

  • Pray for Her Legs:
  • Ask God to strengthen and sustain your wife, so that she can walk and not faint and not tire of doing good. (Isaiah 40:31; 2 Thessalonians 3:13)

  • Pray for Her Feet:
  • Pray that her feet would be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace so that she might faithfully pursue righteousness and love. Ask God to lead her in the path of wisdom and truth and to keep her foot from stumbling. (Ephesians 6:15; Proverbs 21:21; Proverbs 4:11-12)

Special offer for Valentine's Day: Discover God's Design for Love, Sex & Marriage