I heard a story of a man and his wife who were having difficulty communicating. She felt undervalued and he felt nagged. She felt that his love for her was fading, and he felt like she was getting overly needy.
Flustered, she explained, “I’m not sure you even love me any more!”.
In response he quipped, “Honey I said I loved you the day I married you and if that ever changes I’ll let you know.”
I’m not sure who said that or if it even happened, but it does reveal some truth about the communication tendencies of men and women in marriage.
Everyone is different, but still included
Yes, I know there are exceptions and communication roles may be reversed.
In fact, my parents are an excellent example of turning stereotypes on their heads. My dad is a “man’s man” in many ways but he processes everything verbally whereas my mom uses very few words. My mom loves action movies and ESPN while my pops would rather watch “The Sound of Music“. Believe me, I can tell you all about how communication styles differ from couple to couple!
Regardless of your communication style, every wife needs to be affirmed in who they are, who they are to you, and who they are to God. Communication isn’t just about words, and words are often just the beginning of dialog. However, words are extremely powerful:
From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the LORD.
I included one verse before and after the “death and life” verse because the immediate context is interesting. This text is all about a man “eating the fruit of his lips” and being “satisfied“. Even further up in the passage (not cited) it discusses the powers of argumentation, timing, wisdom, and understanding.
Here’s the really interesting part (and I suppose I could write thousands of words on this alone): after all of this discussion of argumentation etc, it brings the focus back to the heart of our words which can give either life or death.
In other terms, all logic and correctness aside, if your words give death you’ll eat death. If your words give life, you’ll eat life. Just because you’re logically correct doesn’t mean you’re morally right (but I digress…).
Enter the WIFE
In verse 22 the text makes a dramatic shift in scope. Suddenly it says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” Where did she come from??
Could it be that this passage is speaking to the communication styles of men and their implications on being married? I’m not exactly sure of the author’s intent in this whole chapter of Proverbs, but I don’t believe wives are brought in this close to the “death and life” verse by coincidence.
This verse is meant to put husbands on call – so let’s perk up our ears guys.
If you’ve thought or said any of the following, this is for you:
- “I told her I loved her back then and I’ll let her know if anything changes.“
- “I’m just not that emotionally expressive.“
- “I forget to tell her what she means to me.“
In fact, even if you’ve got the life-giving communication thing dialed, this is a reminder to all husbands to keep sharp – myself included!
Make sure you say the following phrases (in some form) to your wife in the very near future, and repeat them for the rest of your lives. You’ll encourage her and strengthen her, perhaps in ways you never anticipated.
5 Phrases every wife needs to hear often
1: “I love you”
Chances are good you’ve said this recently. If not, start saying it very often. Selena and I have a habit of saying “I love you” any time we part – when I leave for the day and/or when we get off the phone. I still love hearing it from her, and I think she feels the same. If you’re in the habit of saying this, then say it differently.
Here’s an idea: stop your wife in her tracks – whatever she’s doing – make eye-contact and say it. If you feel compelled, add a 15 second kiss in there to really surprise her!
2: “I love you the way you are”
Every human tends to start feeling insecure without validation. Christ validates the christian, but God also wants us to experience validation (not in an idolatry sense) from other humans. For the wife, her husband has a unique way of validating who she is, regardless of her appearance, achievements, or otherwise.
Remind her that she’s your ultimate standard of beauty, and you love her exactly as she is – inside and out. Take time to describe things you love about her, and draw attention to her intrinsic value as your wife and daughter of the King.
3: “I’m proud of you”
Remind your wife that you’re proud of her constantly – not necessarily for what she does, but for who she is. She is your bride – your complementing and oftentimes, better half. If you have kids together, let her know your proud of her influence on your children, and the role she plays in their lives.
Also remind her that you’re proud to call her wife and you’re proud to be called her husband.
4: “I’ll always love you, no matter what”
This is a “bankable” statement; fill up your bank with lots of these so when you hit a rough patch, you can make “withdrawal” and remind her what you said. Constantly reinforce to your bride that you’re not going anywhere, and you’re 100% sold out, committed, ’til death, no matter what. This is an affirmation that only YOU as her husband can provide.
She will flourish knowing that you’re vehemently committed to her, but she won’t automatically know unless you tell her and show her. Note: phrases 1-3 make this statement much more believable.
5: “You’re beautiful”
This goes along with #2, but must be mentioned. Don’t assume your wife always knows this. Transparent moment: Selena hasn’t felt very beautiful since she gave birth to our daughter. Moms will know, babies are wonderful but they put your body through the ringer.
I think Selena is stunning, elegant, beautiful, poised, sexy, and sweet – but she doesn’t automatically feel the same way. So I tell her, often! Sure I sound like a broken record, but the whole world is offering unhealthy and unrealistic examples of beauty every day, so as her husband I must be more vigilant.
Husbands, what if we said these phrases to our wives every day? What if we encouraged, uplifted, strengthened, and reinforced our wives with even more than just these phrases? What if our actions AND words screamed our love and devotion to our brides?
Men, our words hold the power of life and death. More than anything, let’s use our words to give life to the most important ladies in our lives.
Husbands, what phrases do you say to affirm your wife?
Wives, what has your husband done or said that made you feel confident and loved?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below!