Much is being preached, taught, and written right now about the marriage relationship, and for good reason. As someone who is daily in close proximity to thousands of adults, college students, and teenagers, it's more than alarmist propaganda to say that relationships are in trouble across the board.
So instead of listing all the contributing factors that are leading to the demise of personal human relationships, I would rather offer a handful of helpful hints at how a man can lead the charge in his own home toward a more robust and loving relationship with his wife (women, you can lead, too...but my experience has been that the man sets the emotional tone of the relationship by how well or how poorly he takes initiative). Here are some simple places to start.
5 Practical Ways to Love Your Wife
1. Pay Attention - Common sense, boys. Your wife is giving you a steady stream of information, 24 hours a day, about who she is and what she needs and how she feels. Turn off your phone, watch SportsCenter later, and watch her. Listen to her. Observe her day, the things that cause her stress and the things that bring her joy and the things that frustrate her. Then use your problem solving skills to step in to her routine and offer what she needs (help with getting the kids ready, a date night to a local Thai place, or a gift certificate to her favorite store).
2. Help Out Around The House - There is much to be done in the home. The most common practical thing wives say they would appreciate from their man is a helping hand around the house. Wash the dishes. Fold the laundry. Hang up your clothes. Teach your kids how to sweep and mop and vacuum and then make them do it. Ask her to make a list of little projects around the house that she wants completed and then get to work on them. Ask her every day where she needs help. Then help her.
3. Verbally Affirm Her - Men are not known to be super-good at communicating how we feel, so this may be a bit difficult...but learn how to talk to her in positive ways with a loving tone. Affirm her as a person, as your wife, as a mom, and as a Christian. Tell her that you notice all of her hard work and that you appreciate her. Go beyond simple compliments (don't stop giving them) and affirm her character. Become more aware of who she is and all that she does. Do those things with her. Tell her that she is a great woman, over and over again. Encourage her.
4. Ask Questions and Be Quiet - My wife tells me that she will have 12 different trains of thought running through her mind at any moment, so when I ask her how she is feeling, it gives her a chance to externalize all that is going on internally. Who better for your wife to share these things with than you, her husband? Pry into her business. Get nosey. Lean forward and stare at her face when she talks. And let her talk. Resist the urge to comment, offer advice, or fix her. She's not a project, she's a person. Ask lots of questions then listen and learn.
5. Get Her Away - You may think this is for her, but it's for both of you. Nothing refreshes her soul or energizes her love for you like getting away for a few hours, overnight, or a few days with her husband. The pressure subsides. The to-do list disappears. The "re-set" button is pushed. So whether it's dinner, a movie and a long walk in the woods or an overnite excursion to the Holiday Inn in the next town, spend the money on a babysitter and plan a getaway with your wife. Make these a habit and you will both begin to look forward to them like a kid anticipates Christmas.
What works for you? What have you learned to do that has made a difference in your relationship?