By Ashley McIlwain
He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. –Proverbs 18:22
Over the course of my life, I have held many roles. From various job titles to daughter to sister and friend. Labels such as Christian, athlete, helper, student, and graduate are all part of who I am. The list of adjectives is quite endless really, but there is one that I hold ever so near and dear to my heart. Wife.
Like most women, I was so excited to get engaged and married. Nearly every little girl dreams of her big day, Prince Charming, and very own fairytale to one degree or another. Those dreams and desires seem to be stitched into the very fiber of our being. Yet, I didn’t realize the best, most important part of those aspirations were the honored title I would hold as a wife.
Sometimes I can’t even remember what it was like before marriage. When I met and married my husband, Steve, my life took on a whole different meaning. Unified, my singular journey had become a duet of perfect harmony with this man of my dreams. Not that our journey has been without challenges or bumps, but it’s been marked by joy and fulfillment that I couldn’t have ever truly dreamt of before I got married.
What I realized once we moved past the wedding day was that I had to take my role as a wife very seriously. It wasn’t a title merely given but more earned. I say that because I desired to live up to the full potential of such a distinguished position. It was like receiving the promotion of a lifetime at my dream job and wanting to make the most of it.
Wives have such an incredible and unique opportunity. Husbands are a treasure and a gift to us, and many of them just long for us to affirm them. They want to feel valued and respected. As women, we can cultivate our men into the best they can be if we get to the heart of what it means to be a wife.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” –Genesis 2:18,22
As women, we were designed to come alongside of men and be their companions and helpers. We are our man’s support, co-pilot, listening ear, affirmation, encouragement, and cheerleader. Our job is to come beside him and respectfully and lovingly support his dreams, work, efforts, and leadership.
One thing I have discovered as a wife is that my husband longs for my support. With one word I can help give flight to his dreams or crush his spirit. More than anything, he wants and desires my approval. He wants me to be proud of him. That’s a precious treasure and huge responsibility at the same time.
It’s easy to notice and point out our husband’s shortcomings, but it’s crucial to focus not on those negatives but rather his strengths, abilities, and potential. Encourage his dreams. Affirm his efforts. Support his goals. Be his help mate; the God given helper he so desperately needs and desires.
Respect and Honor
… and the wife must respect her husband. –Ephesians 5:33
Every man has a God given desire and need to be respected. Whereas women need to feel and be loved, men require respect. Sadly, this is a concept that evades so many wives rather quickly in a marriage, and I believe it’s one of the biggest culprits for marriages falling apart.
Respect is a gift that we give our husband. It’s not something he earns, it’s something he is given because we value and appreciate who he is as a man (that we chose to marry) and the wonderful qualities and characteristics he possesses. This doesn’t mean we never address concerns or areas of growth, but how we address is it what matters. Put away the condescending, snide, demeaning, critical, and superior attitude when you approach your husband in situations because not only is this unproductive, but it’s counterproductive. Put on a gracious, patient, respectful attitude, and you will see more responsiveness and quicker, better results from your husband.
What so many women fail to realize is that belittling and disrespecting their husband will only push him farther away from her and the man she is trying to encourage him to be. And oftentimes what happens is another woman out there is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to make your man feel like one in a million. That is YOUR job and your responsibility.
No matter what the situation or circumstance, if you want to keep the line of communication open with your husband, it starts with respect. You’re husband desperately needs and longs for that … from YOU. So keep that in mind any time you are talking with, to, or about your husband.
I am my lover’s and my lover is mine. –Song of Song’s 6:3
One time my husband told me a story that literally brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. He said that he was at work and so excited about getting home. One of his colleagues noticed his excitement and inquired about why he was so thrilled. My husband’s reply was that he couldn’t wait to get home to me because it’s his favorite part of the day. As a wife, there is really no higher compliment than that.
In his book, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Mark Gungor says it this way, “A man’s home should be the one place in his life where those voices of criticism are silenced; where he is assured he is wonderful and competent.” Wives, your husband needs to feel loved, cherished, and like he is the most adored man out there. Don’t underestimate the influence of your love on him.
Many women make the mistake of insulting and nagging their husbands thinking it will motivate them to change or excellence. You are destroying your relationship and the clout you have in his life with that approach. The most effective way to boost, encourage, and cultivate greatness in your husband is to affirm, compliment, respect, and love him. Don’t miss your opportunity to love the man that loves you.
Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. –Proverbs 31:10-12
Wives cannot underestimate the importance of their role as a wife! God has empowered and equipped us to care for, love, nurture, and support our husbands in a way that no one else can. What an awesome opportunity and responsibility that requires us to be to patient, gracious, forgiving, strong yet gentle, supportive, wise, and diligent. In your heart, embrace the God-given position of honor as wife to your husband.