The state of marriage is one which requires more virtue and constancy than any other; it is a perpetual exercise in mortification.”- St. Francis de Sales
“He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28
I married a wonderful woman. She’s beautiful, hilarious, generous, and incredibly strong. (I watched her give birth. Trust me, she’s strong.) The longer I’m married to her, the more I realize how lucky I am to have her.
But as much as I love my wife, I admit that I can still be pretty selfish in my conduct from day to day. In other words, I don’t always show my love like I should—and unless you’re already a saint, you can probably identify.
Because we are by nature self-centered, showing love to our wives takes intentional effort. It takes a daily choice to put her and her needs before our own. That said, here are 5 ways to demonstrate love to your wife in a concrete way.
1. Listen to her – Do you listen to your wife? I don’t mean hear her talking. Do you really try to understand her concerns and her perspectives? I’m going to be completely transparent here. Of all the ways to show my wife I appreciate her, I find this one of the hardest. I am by nature introverted. I love quiet time to read and reflect, and my ideal evening involves mulling a good book without interruption.
But my wife, like most women, likes to talk. She talks about the funny things the kids did, about a bill that needs to be paid, or about something her friend said. Is all of it interesting to me? Sometimes no, and all too often I find myself lapsing into grunts of acknowledgement rather than engaging in a real conversation. My wife picks up on my lack of interest of course, and it is hurtful to her.
When I pretend to listen, but I’m really distracted and uninterested, it’s incredibly selfish. I’m basically telling my wife, “That’s nice, honey, but honestly, I really don’t care.” It’s a slap in the face to this woman who labors day in and day out to make a loving home for me and our children.
Men, you and I are called to love our wives by listening to her and her concerns. If it is important to her, it should be important to us. Whatever else you want to do can wait. Pay attention to the beautiful woman you have pledged to give your life to and really care about what she has to say. This small practice can make a dramatic difference in your marriage.
2. Help her – Wives and mothers have an incredibly tough job. I always laugh at people who think my wife doesn’t work because she stays home with the kids. I’ll tell you this much—I don’t think I could do what she does. I get to come home from work. She doesn’t.
So as a husband, realize that your wife works hard. Appreciate that, but don’t stop at appreciation. Look for concrete ways you can lift the burden of caring for a home and a bunch of rowdy little humans. Vacuum, do the dishes, take out the trash, or change a diaper. Believe me, there are dozens of small ways you can love your wife in this way. Find some, and do them without being asked.
3. Watch a chick flick – How many of you look forward to watching Pride and Prejudice or Sleepless in Seattle? Yeah, me neither. But guess what, my wife likes those kind of movies, and your wife probably does too. Swallow your pride and show your wife you love her by watching something she likes for a change.
Of course, the type of entertainment doesn’t have to be a movie. It could be something like taking a walk or shopping. The point is, do something your wife likes to do as an act of love, even if you find it completely uninteresting.
4. Surprise her – Everyone likes surprises, and that includes your wife. Bring her a bunch of roses randomly. Buy her a book she’s been wanting. Bring her a box of chocolates. Take her out on a dinner date for no reason in particular.
In other words, learn what she likes most, and then surprise her with it when she least expects it. You really don’t have to wait till an anniversary to do this sort of thing!
5. Tell her you love her – Most men, except for the romantic poet types among us, aren’t into expressing their love verbally. “My wife knows I love her, why do I need to tell her?” they think. I don’t care if you’re doing everything else right, you’re wife still needs to hear that she’s loved. Tell her frequently that you love her, and tell her what you love about her. Also seek to express your love through non-sexual physical affection. It will give life to your wife to know that you that you care about her for who she is, not what she can do for you.
If you got married for what you can get out of it, you got married for the wrong reasons. Marriage isn’t about taking. It isn’t about how that person makes you feel, what they look like, or what they can do for you. No, marriage is all about loving like Christ—and that means embracing the cross.
You see, real love is all about self-giving, self-sacrifice, and self-denial. It literally means laying down your life for your wife in a thousand daily choices. As men, we are called to follow Christ by loving our wives as he loved the Church and “gave himself up for her.” Is this hard sometimes? Will it cost you? Of course. We are fallen and selfish. But get over it. Man up. Love your wife.This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at The Catholic Gentleman.