Marriage Missions International

What Your Wife Needs in Marriage – Marriage Message #197

Men, have you ever asked yourself,

“‘Have I been the kind of person my wife has been able to love?’ If you have, you certainly are in the minority. And if you’ve asked your wife, ‘Have I been the kind of person you love to love?’ you are in an even greater minority. So many wives are desperately trying to understand their husbands. But many husbands don’t know what it means to open his heart and let his wife in. When a wife sees that her husband has discovered her need to know what is in his heart, and that he is genuinely concerned about becoming the kind of man that she can truly love, she will be ecstatic.” (Ken Nair from Discovering the Mind of a Woman)

After Cindy addressed “What Men Want in Marriage” last week I thought it was only fair that I (Steve) turned the tables and addressed the other side. At the outset I need to say that I don’t consider myself an expert on what wives “need” in marriage, though I’ve read a lot in an effort to learn how to be the kind of husband Cindy needs.

By no means is this going to be an exhaustive list. If anything this will only scratch the surface. But one thing I know about men is that most of us can become easily overwhelmed (flooded) by too much relationship info and we’ll withdraw if we start to feel that way, so I’ll be brief.

My goal is to give husbands a few of the key areas to begin to work on so that our wives will sense we’re willing to open our hearts to them and genuinely want to meet their deepest needs. So the following is a partial list (that I’ll expand on) derived from what women wrote to Promise Keepers a few years ago as compiled in a book by Holly Phillips called, What Does She Want From Me Anyway?

“A WOMAN NEEDS a husband willing to assume spiritual leadership of the family. This doesn’t mean a husband who quotes or twists scripture to get his wife to do what he wants.”

Sadly, many men have abused the scriptures for centuries and as a result have left a wake of badly injured wives as a result. Spiritual leadership is not memorizing the Bible or preaching a sermon. It’s understanding what the scriptures say and using them as a guide for loving (not manipulating) your wife. “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) If we spent the next year focusing just on developing those spiritual qualities it would make a radical change in how we love our wives.

Spiritual leadership also means being willing to pray with our wives and not just for them. Cindy and I know how awkward it is to start this practice and how uncomfortable it can make you feel. But we also know that this is the one spiritual leadership practice that can have the most positive and dramatic affect on your marriage.

Start simple. Maybe just by taking your wife’s hands in yours before you leave the house in the morning and praying, “Lord, thank you for this precious gift you’ve given me in _____. Bless her richly today and protect her while I’m away; in Jesus name, Amen.” (We have more articles, which you may find helpful posted in the Prayer topic of this web site.)

One woman said of her husband’s prayers for her, “When Ron prays for me, I feel as if I’m covered by a velvety blanket of protection. Even though I still face problems and setbacks, his prayers shelter me from the sharpness of the pain.” [Cindy says she feels the same way when I pray over her.]

“A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who will listen to his wife.”

I admit this doesn’t come naturally for me or most men. But that doesn’t mean we’re to be given a “pass” on it. It means we have to be willing to learn how to listen (Webster’s Dictionary says it is “to make a conscious effort to hear; attend closely”) I’ve found that if I am to truly listen (make a conscious effort) to hear Cindy I’ll have to put down what I’m reading, or turn the television off and look her in the eyes.

I like the way Ken Nair puts it. “Listening to her means to stop placing little or no value on her words. Concentrate on what she’s saying. Learn to hear what her feelings are saying —not only what her mouth is saying.”

This is another skill that takes time to develop but the payoff is tremendous in building intimacy with our wives. After 40 years of marriage I’ve found that when I take the time to connect with Cindy at this level it’s like I’ve just given her the most expensive diamond in the world. That’s how much she longs to be heard and understood.

“A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who’ll protect his wife and make her feel secure. This means more than protecting her from physical harm. It also means protecting her from emotional harm.”

I don’t believe there’s anything (short of adultery or physical violence) that’s more destructive in a marriage than a husband who belittles his wife in public. What many men consider a “harmful little joke” about their wife’s cooking, her appearance, the way she keeps house, etc. can in effect be tantamount to verbally raping her. That’s how hurtful our words can be. Proverbs 12:18 sums it up. Reckless words pierce like a sword.” And the second part of the verse sums up how we can protect our wives: “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Protecting our wives also means we’re to defend their honor and integrity to our family members. If we have parents or siblings who try to belittle our wives down it is our God given responsibility to defend them and make it absolutely clear that we will not tolerate any slander or verbal abuse against our wife. As for security, that comes when our wives know there is no one or no thing that comes before her —not our jobs, our family, friends, our hobbies, our sports, etc.

We also build security in our wives when we as men take responsibility for our thoughts and actions, especially when it comes to sexual temptation. I’m not talking about just pornography, I also mean the way we look at other women or talk about how other women look. If you want to find out how well you’re doing in this area, just ask your wife to read this part of the message and then ask if she feels secure.

“A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who is a full partner in the marriage.”

I like expressing this is by using the term, “Oneness” in marriage. This means in areas like disciplining and caring for the children, making financial or other major decisions, sharing responsibilities, we are to be in “oneness,” which is partnership. The opposite of oneness is alienation and if we as the husband don’t become full partners with our wives they will feel alienated from us, and that is not God’s plan.

I realize that there are dozens of other needs that our wives have, but I must stop here. Please know that in the For Married Men topic of this web site, you will find many articles and tips to help you better know what women need in marriage. But I’ve given you enough to begin to make a huge difference in your relationship if you will but ask God to help you to implement the areas where you have identified that you are weak. God promises us husbands in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

As always, Cindy and I pray that we will make our marriages a priority and learn what each other needs so that God will get all of the glory. We pray this has been helpful! God Bless you!

Steve and Cindy Wright

Share

Join the Discussion!

But please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.
We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.

Comments

13 Responses to “What Your Wife Needs in Marriage – Marriage Message #197”
  1. Kay says:

    (USA) You have some extremely important things to say about marriage in this post. However, one of the books you mention has been the major contributor to my brother and sister-in-law’s marriage breaking up and I have highlighted the main reason why in this book review below. I have read this book so know that Nair has some good things to say, but the bottom line of his message is extremely hurtful to a couple where either one has any basic psychological problems and won’t acknowledge that these problems might exist. His background is that of a businessman with no theological or psychological training.

    Discovering the Mind of a Woman
    by Ken Nair
    This is one of those marriage books which scores points on the big issues and loses them in the details. Nair’s central thesis is right on the money: “Christlikeness is God’s first priority for every man” (p. 6). He then takes this thesis and attempts to work it out in the dynamics of marriage. Again Nair’s broad strokes are good, since a Christlike man will make every attempt to understand his wife (1 Peter 3:7) and lead her spiritually (Ephesians 5:25-27). The Christlike husband will put his wife’s needs before his own and love her as Christ loves the church. All of this is excellent—and if this is all Nair said then we could highly recommend Discovering the Mind of a Woman. However, he says much more.

    First, Nair is very careless in his use of Scripture, often ripping verses out of context or simply creating strange interpretations (pp. 37-39, 71, 89, 112, 118, 196, 217, 220, 238). He often speaks of dying to self (pp. 14,17), a concept not taught in Scripture (he is confusing this with denying self which is something very different). The author is far too stereotypical throughout—seemingly basing most of his views on men (and women) by his own experience. He dabbles in psychobabble (pp. 148, 174) and has a faulty view of God’s leading (e.g. p. 5). This latter issue leads to the main flaws in the book. Nair believes:

    1. That God speaks through the wife to her husband (pp. 45, 49, 64, 79, 166, 176, 213, 232).

    2. If the Holy Spirit is in control of the man’s life he will be able to read his wife’s thoughts (pp. 113, 119).

    3. The husband controls his wife’s emotions and behavior. She has no choice, Nair claims, but to respond to the husband’s behavior. If he behaves sinfully then she will respond in kind—she can’t help herself (pp. 79, 84, 89, 132, 138-139, 155, 176, 241). Even weight gain is the husband’s fault (pp. 97-98).

    In addition, Nair projects a truly unfortunate and distorted understanding of the sexual relationship in marriage (chapter 13).

    Bottom line, men, by all means live Christlike. But that can be learned through Scripture and much better resources than this book. Nair presents far too many unbiblical teachings in Discovering the Mind of a Woman to be of any real profit and the distortions he presents are downright dangerous.
    reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-Teacher, Southern View Chapel, Springfield, Illinois

  2. Steve says:

    (USA)  I have been tasked with reading this book by my counselor. The problem I have is that it seems very stereotypical, meaning “most women feel this way, most men feel this way” and in a very real sense it seems my wife and I are switched. She is more logical and I am more emotional.

    So, on with my comment, I am also afraid this book will give the wife ammo as far as saying, “see, I’m supposed to be this way…” and other such things. I am very weary about reading this book. I’m trying to trust God about it, but I skipped ahead to Chapter 3 just to see the 4 misconceptions men have about women, and they don’t apply to me. I don’t feel those things towards my wife and I must admit, that is all I’ve read so far. So I guess I need to read some more, but some encouragement from those who have read it will be good.

    I did read the critique by Gary Gilley as posted above which makes my shields raise instantaneously, and I read another critique saying that Ken says if you go against his advice that it’s just your flesh trying to “bristle” against his words. I’ve heard pastors use that excuse to get their own agenda across. I’m going to read it though, scared and just trusting God.

  3. Kumera says:

    (ETHIOPIA)  I AM 32 YEARS OLD. MY EDUCATION STAUTUS IS MASTERS. I NEED MY RELIGION. IT IS PROTESTANT. I need marriage.

    • John says:

      (SUDAN)  You know, things are not always according to our plans. Our Creator plans that whenever you’ve grown up he has prepared for you some one, some where. Blessings, John

  4. Lisbet says:

    (USA)  My husband has read the entire book to me each night before we go to bed. It has transformed our marriage. We communicate better, he understands my heart much more than in the past and he has become so much more caring and tender, not just with me but the kids as well.

    The above comment by Gilly sounds like it comes from a man who just wants his wife to do her part, “respect her husband” without having to inconvenience himself to learn what it means to be Christlike to his wife. Many of his interpretations of the quotes that he takes from the book are out of context. IN NO WAY does Nair insinuate that a man can eventually “read his wife’s thought”. What it means is that a man come come to understand and know his wife so well that he can guess what she might be thinking or feeling because he has taken the time to really understand her and communicate with her. It’s similar to how I can know by the look on my husband’s face, what kind of day he has had at work. It doesn’t mean I can “read his mind”!

    This book does not give me as a wife any license to berate my husband or put him down in any way, in fact it just makes me love him more and feel more secure as he seeks to understand me and to love me with Christlike tenderness. As women we are responders, we are “relational” as Nair puts it, we reflect our husbands, just as the church we are to “reflect Christ”.

  5. Mike says:

    (USA)  I am another one who does not care for the Ken Nair book. I think there are better books out there. Love and Respect is one. 5 Love languages is another. Ken Nair’s book comes across extremely one sided. Marriage issues are hardly just that…one sided.

  6. Mia says:

    (AUSTRALIA)  I guess each book has its own revelatory truth that may have been missed in previous works. It’s when something is taken to the extreme or misapplied that the trouble starts. The reader has to use his or her judgement and not take everything at face value. I read dozens of books before I got married, attended a couple of seminars, listened to 12 cassettes (before CD’s were around!) AND got pre-marriage counselling. Yet I didn’t come across some crucial concepts until I got a hold of some recently released books. This doesn’t mean that the previous books were wrong, just somewhat incomplete.

    I have also discovered that God knows how we got to where we are and can make up for the lack of revelation because of erroneous teaching from parents, culture, church, etc. If we seek Him with all our heart, He can direct us and help us see the truth, even if our mind has accepted certain presumptions as truth.

    I find it hard to believe, though, that a book would say that a man should be able to read a woman’s mind, or that a man can control a woman’s emotions. It is like Gary Smalley’s insistence that he hasn’t found an exception to the rule that if a couple has been married for more than 2 years, the wife’s problematic behaviour is a response to something that the husband is doing wrong. Hmm, many won’t agree.

  7. Mitku says:

    (ETHIOPIA)  A friend is a mirror of life. So I need to show myself on the behalf of my wife.

  8. Aluka says:

    (Kampala) Thank you so much Steve & Cindy Wright for the messages that you send. they are very inspiring and touch messages.

    I strongly agree with you on all the issues, behaviors and practices that you have high lighted. I think most of us women/wives we have taken our husbands for granted in a sense that we think they don’t need our great contribution, care and appreciation. We think in most times that our husbands know what they are supposed to be doing and at the end of the day, when they fail, we turn to blame them. We know reminding them everything even at a certain time when he asked to be forgiven but one keeps the same thing.

    Behaviors like these have made some of the men not to be apologetic because of how we treat them, especially when they have admitted the wrong. Some wives for real, have sent off their husbands from because of over demanding not knowing there moments when they also don’t have. We failed to ask ourselves the questions, why don’t I provide for myself and yet you want to be provided for? When they come without, you quarrel for the whole day /week and even use such words like; THAT HE IS ALSO A MAN/HUSBAND YET YOU CANT MEET WOMAN’S’ NEEDS!

    Dear my own sisters, these are not the best words. Lets not forget our first LOVE that brought you together as husband and wife. You accepted for bad for worse, in rich and lack. Please, lets remember our Vows that we made before GOD. In everything and situation, remain loving and marriage will be enjoyable.

  9. Sherry says:

    (USA)  Last week you wrote an article about ‘What Your Husband Needs.’ In continuing the same mindset this week you title the article ‘What Women Need in Marriage.’ The article is most effective when reading it as what one does for another (woman), not more than one (women). I am not sure why it is different, but it shouldn’t be. The title for a man to read about his wife is, ‘What Your Woman Needs’, and that way the title steers his mindset the his wife versus a generalization of women overall!

    • Cindy Wright says:

      You are so right Sherry. I don’t know how we missed that one but thank you for pointing it out. We made the correction. Thanks so much!

  10. Martin from Mongolia says:

    For a more authoritative understanding of what women need in or out of marriage study Alison Armstrong’s work. I did and was wonderfully blessed. The stuff I have read above falls into the category of “men need to please the modern woman more”. My grand father didn’t bother with that stuff, he simply got on with the task of surviving 2 world wars and the great Depression and raising 4 children, and was respected for that and remained married to his one and only wife till the day she died. Now I live in Mongolia, where the BASICS of life still matter, where a man is respected by his family and wife because he feeds, clothes, protects, houses and loves his wife and family. Anything else comes from the pages of the women’s magazines.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      I agree Martin. I’ve heard Alison speak many times. Although she isn’t a Christian speaker, the things she speaks about concerning women and men and marriage sure lines up scripturally (at least that which I’ve heard her speak). I recommend her work. Thanks for pointing it out. We appreciate it.

Marriage Missions International