For a husband to protect his marriage, he must first accept that it is always in harm’s way. Marriages do not fall apart in a moment or in a day, but through the harsh erosion of time.
The other night as my wife and I crawled into bed she said, “I love being your wife.” I could not recall anything extraordinary about that day. I didn’t buy her roses. I didn’t get a raise. I didn’t do the dishes. Yet, she spontaneously declared her happiness in being married to me. As I listened to her drift off to sleep, I thought, “How did this happen?”
I have made many mistakes as a husband, but apparently, I have done some things right. Being a clueless guy, and not wanting to lose any more sleep over it, I decided I would ask her…in the morning. Here is what she told me.
1. “You take care of things I don’t want to do.”
When I heard this, I thought of times the kids vomited. How they hit everything except the toilet or garbage can; and I cleaned it up. I thought of the day she looked at me and said, “I hate managing our finances” and I took them. I remembered times I did chores that helped her get her to-do list done.
In my efforts to help her, I was doing more than just the task at hand. I was serving my wife. Let that sink in…I was serving her. I was using my strength, so she did not have to use hers. I had no idea this was protecting my marriage, but it was.
I have learned through trial and error. When I serve my wife, she feels guarded. She feels she doesn’t have to get life done all on her own.
2. “You shared your iPhone password with me.”
Years ago, when my iPhone became my third arm, I decided to let my wife have the passcode to it. Why did I do this?
My smartphone is a window into a world only I can see. I could live another life there if I wanted to.
It could be a digital life built on games, fantasy sports, or pornography. A place where I could be the hero, a sports god, and where women show me everything. In that world I could feel everything I want to feel in the real world–without all the work. The problem is it would not be real. I would be choosing fantasy over the woman sitting across from me. I would let that world have the best of me and she would get the shell of me that is leftover when I look up.
If not building a fantasy life, I could be leading a double life. I could gamble away our income. I could pretend to be someone I’m not. I could connect with people I should not. I could build two lives. A life I have with my wife, and a life I have without her. There’s only one problem. I would have to lie to keep them both going. Lying to my wife would not end well.
To avoid these landmines, I decided to have no phone secrets. I thought I was protecting myself when I did this. Turns out, I was protecting her.
3. “You like being with me.”
The first two habits I have mentioned accidentally protected my marriage. This one I intentionally developed to protect my marriage.
Several years ago, I discovered my wife’s love language. The term “love language” comes from the author, counselor, and pastor Dr. Gary Chapman. The idea is that each person has a “language” that speaks directly to their heart. The goal is to discover the language of the person you love and use it so they can experience the love you have for them.
At some point I realized my expressions of love to my wife, although sincere, were not speaking to her heart. I was communicating to her in a way that was natural to me, but it was not the right language for her. I needed to change what I was doing if she was going to experience the love I had for her. So, I did.
Learning her love language, and using it, was awkward at first, but practice has paid off. When she said, “You like being with me”, she was not talking about vacations, date nights or special events. She was talking about all the times I use her love language.
She now knows I love her because I’ve learned to communicate it in a way that speaks to her heart. I believe this one action has made the biggest difference in protecting my marriage.
I am no marriage guru. I don’t know how my marriage ranks with others, but I’ve learned it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that your wife knows you care about your marriage relationship with her. If she knows you care, you are protecting your marriage.