Study Your Husband!

This post is probably more directed at the new-ish wife, but could be something all of us (including me!) need to hear from time to time. In fact, the reason this is on my mind and I'm writing about it is because it's something I've been needing to re-focus on for ME. Something that I have done well in some ways and not so good in other ways is to really study my husband.

Here are some beneficial results from really getting to know our husbands well:
  • Our efforts to show them love & kindness are more likely to hit the bullseye where they really feel it in ways that are meaningful for them
  • It is very likely that our marriages will improve.
  • We will become more kind & considerate in our daily lives, and in our homes, which (all on its own) is a good thing.
  • We will become more like Christ, as we learn to know and love and joyfully serve the people around us and meet them where they're at.
  • We can model biblical one-anothering in the context of marriage to the children and/or friends God has given us.
So what kind of areas should we focus on?
  • Are there ways I could show respect to him that I'm not currently proactive about? (i.e., what he likes for dinner, how I dress, decisions in the home, in group conversations, etc.)
  • What makes him feel relaxed? stressed? carefree? blessed? angry? lighthearted? We are blessed to live in a time filled with options for learning more about personalities, love languages, learning styles, temperaments, and more. We could all benefit from taking time to really study what makes our individual husbands "tick".
  • How can I encourage him? Though the world treats men as though they're always full of bravado and oozing with self-confidence, the truth is that most men could do with some encouragement. Kind words, a supportive spirit, and actions to assist or help will go a long way towards helping your husband feel at peace and capable in life.
  • What blesses him in the area of intimacy? (What does he really like? Are there things you could wear, say, or do that would make your times together more special or enjoyable for him? Does it knock his socks off when you initiate? Is a backrub something that would make his week?) Many men derive a lot of joy and satisfaction from physical touch shared with their wives... and as we've talked about before, even if it means we have to expand our "menu", we WANT our husbands to revel and delight in US! We can all stand to grow more aware of and sensitive to our husbands in this area.
  • What ways can we enjoy relaxing together? Does he really enjoy the quiet? Perhaps there's a hobby you can take up where you could sit quietly alongside him and just enjoy the peace and quiet at the end of a hard week. Does he like to get out together? Perhaps there's a couple you could trade off babysitting duties with so that time out together can be a priority.
We don't all have the same husbands... but we do all have the opportunity to get to know the one we have. :) So let's do it together. Any other ideas or comments? Challenging words? Stories about how this has happened over the course of your marriage? Come on-- share your thoughts about being a wife that carefully studies your husband!


sara said...

Well, I often find myself frustrated because my husband has no (or very few) preferences. He always says I look good with short hair and long hair and makeup and no makeup and dresses and pants and high heels and sneakers. He says that he just wants me to be happy. :) In the bedroom, he just likes me to be eager and giving - no preferences on the "menu" or the wardrobe or anything really. What a weird thing for me to complain about, huh? But sometimes I really want to go out of my way to please him and it is really hard to figure out how to do that.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jess,
I also live abroad and am married to a believing national in the country where we serve together. As a young wife (almost at the 1 year mark!), I value your thoughts and posts about marriage. Your posts about kids are also helpful (I'm filing them away for the not too distant future) as I play the role of "auntie" to some kids here. Thank you for the encouragement you offer and for always pointing me back to the truth of the Word. May He richly bless you! Tiffany

Jessica said...

I sort of feel the same way as Sara. I ask my husband and don't get a direct response. I suppose that it is all the more reason to be actively studying him- since he hasn't answer my questions, I need to try to figure it out based on his response.

Anonymous said...

One thing I've noticed is that wives who develop their own interests tend to have healthier marriages. Also, women appreciate being studied and "nurtured," but do men? Really? Or would they rather be the "hunters," the ones that are challenged a bit to wonder what keeps their wives happy?

I have a friend whose religion dictates no sex for the entire week of menstruation. I've heard that the tiny absence makes the husbands look forward to the end of the week with anticipation.

What I'm saying is - better to be a whole person, than a cookie cutter made-to-order wife. I'm not saying that your interests have to be outside of the household or family. But I've seen that when wives have a healthy balance of independent ideas and activities, when they're not ALWAYS available to their husbands, it actually works to keep the marriage strong.


Jessica Rae said...

When things get a little ho-hum and mundane and life just seems like we are tag-teaming a household of kids and chores, I like to think back to when we were first married or engaged and remind him about how crazy I was over him and how we couldn't wait to get married and how miraculous it is that the Lord brought us together and pretty soon...we're feeling close again.

I know that's not really about studying your husband, but it could be if you think back to the beginning and remember some of the things you used to do for him that really surprised and blessed him.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Hey, Jess. I don't presume to answer the questions your commenters posed to you, but I've been married a while and have made some mistakes, and have learned quite a bit from them.

As for Mary's comment: I don't think the issue of having your own interests fits into the context of this particular conversation, does it? Unless I missed something in the post. A wife can have her own interests, but in marriage, it certainly helps if there are at least some things (if not most), that a couple enjoys doing together. And yes, you can nurture and study your husband, just not in the same way you would a wife, since men and women really are different. To nurture simply means to loving provide what is needed. And any good wife should make it their busy to know, or "study" what makes their man tick. which brings me to the point I initially wanted to make.

For those women whose husband doesn't openly express a preference, this is a the perfect time to study your man. For example, I used to wear my hair straight most of the time. It was just easier. However, when I took the time to roll it, there is a noticeable reaction from my husband. He likes it. A lot. So now I take the time to curl my hair. And there are some days when he'll say, "I know you're tired babe, and if you want to just pull your hair up, you don't have to curl it for me. Just curl it sometimes." Which makes me want to curl it more!

All that to say that Jess makes an excellent point. Sometimes you have to study. It may take a while, but the answers will emerge.

Jess said...

Jessica Rae,
I think you make an excellent point.

And Terry,
Thanks for the great real-life example.

Here's the thing... my husband is kind of like what you're describing. Pretty easy-going, easy to please... not loaded down with complex preferences and leanings. Still, there are a few things I've learned over the course of (almost) 9 years of marriage:
*He likes variety,
*He enjoys TIME together
*He likes for me to enjoy making/doing what I offer (whether food or, ahem, other stuff).

So, I do those things.

I'm not saying it has to be rocket science. But I *AM* saying that I have seen many marriages where a wife's focus on herself, or her near-exclusive focus on her children drive severe wedges of difficulty and distance into the marriage. I have been saddened to see many marriages begin to crumble because of one member forgetting to love, respect, and pursue the other person.

Continuing to strive to know and respect your husband is a good thing; that's all I'm saying. I'm not trying to make some deep psychological observation that men are like deep wells of insight, or that we're ne'er to plumb the depths of the mystery and shadows of their elusive authentic desires... :)

I'm simply saying that we are wise when we don't lose sight of the fact that our husbands are unique individuals. We are wise when we seek to know more about the individual God has made them to be, and strive to understand more about the ways that we can love and bless our husbands.

Laura said...

Jess, I just thought of something. You know, most women do this *naturally* with their girlfriends. They remember birthdays and favorite colors and foods and drinks. They know if they like talking on the phone or if they prefer emails and texts. They buy gifts that are personal and meaningful. They know which of their friends likes to shop, which one prefers tea to coffee, which one to call for hair advice... and on and on. So really, it's not a different set of skills wives have to learn, it's just a different focus. ;)

Civilla said...

Yes, I think this is good advice. Actually, it pays to study any person that you live with, to see what pleases them, and to avoid "pushing their buttons." It is just common courtesy and love. And, it makes things easier for you in the long run. Imagine if everybody lived like this?

sara said...

Good thoughts, Jess. It's easy sometimes to think that after 11 1/2 years of marriage I know all there is to know about the man.

sara said...

Y'know I woke in the middle of the night thinking about this -

I think sometimes I (not talking about anyone else) I think I want to please my husband when I really just want to be thanked or praised. It's very easy for me to turn something like this into an opportunity to stroke my ego. I want to hear, "Wow, you look pretty!" or "What a delicious meal!" or something like that. Pride - I've got a lot of it.

Truthfully, my husband has been very plain about what he likes and I have known them but have not been faithful in seeing to even these little requests - maybe because they ARE little and are not about me and are not opportunities for my glory if you kwim. They are not things about my appearance or what I have done or anything like that.

I know what makes him happy and I think I should give him loads more of it: he likes a cheerful wife, he likes to not be asked to do anything during morning coffee, he likes to not be loaded up with a thousand chores on his only day off and occasionally he likes to sleep in. He likes backrubs and he likes to be recognized for the hard work he does (and he does work very hard). He dislikes criticism. He likes to know I'm on his side. He likes when I am content.

Thank you so much for making me think - this reflection has made me realize how good I have it and how I've been slacking in serving my husband.

Mom said...

This was an excellent post, and a lot of great responses. I have been married for 34 years (in June), and I'm still learning things about my husband. I have recently REALLY realized that it is "ok" for us to have separate interests and practice them. For instance, I have always known that, but haven't always put it to practice. We have recently started doing something that has been fun. We don't watch much tv, but we usually like different types of shows. There are a couple of shows that we make a point of watching together, but I like Designing type shows, or jewelry/crafting shows, and he likes watching Fox News and the History channel. Well, we have been exchanging time with one another and watching the other's favorite show together (maybe 30 minutes), and it has opened up new conversation, and made us realize that we can take something interesting from something we didn't think we would enjoy, and at the same time, converse with each other and have fun! That's just one small example, and something that we've been doing recently, but you are very right when you say to study your husband. You will go through many different "seasons" with your spouse, and we have been through many "seasons", and you can really learn a lot about him if you make that extra effort. And, about 3-4 years ago, we learned about our personalities and put that to practice, and it has really helped us to understand each other too. That is a very big help! The neat thing about this topic is that you never stop learning about your husband, and it can be a real blessing in your life.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there an old joke about how women always want their boyfriend or husband to notice their hair, and they never, ever do? My bad.


Jess said...

I guess that could be an old joke, but it's just not true for all women or all husbands. My husband notices my hair often. It's a big part of what initially attracted him to me. But if I was to write here and say, "take note of what your husband says about your hair and always wear it exactly like he says", not only would I be a legalist, but I would be writing something helpful to some, but completely irrelevant to other wives.

We each don't have to hone in (necessarily) on the same things, but we should listen for those things that our husbands DO notice. For me, that includes hair. For you, apparently not. :)


Anonymous said...

That's cool. I've only ever noticed that the men in my world, whether my man, my friend's, or a relative, just want long hair. Beyond that, they just don't care.