In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
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This week I decided to meld together my guest post and marriage post from the voice of my favorite human: Austin Groves. After asking him what he would consider the twenty best ways to intentionally love me, I sat, meditating over these words and why exactly they grant such a feeling of affection.
Husbands, husbands-to-be, and men who are seeking marriage. This man is wise beyond his years and has gleaned from men much wiser than he. Drink in his advice to you and my commentary.
Here’s the thing: this only nicks the surface of intentional love in a marriage. My reasons for why these are so valid are only the ideas of one wife.
Here’s the other thing: when he does these things, I get to see the Gospel picture happening in the walls of our little apartment and in the throws of our brand new marriage. It is the coolest thing and so clearly only through God’s power.
1. “Listen to her.”
And we will feel valued. In fact, I would argue that as wives, there is not a time we feel more valued than when your actions say, I love what you have to say, and I want to hear you.
2. “Tell her I love her.”
Husbands, when you do this with intention, we will not consider these words to be routine. They will be precious to us. They will be more new and exciting than the last time we heard them.
3. “Show willingness to favor her preferences.”
When you do this, husbands, we will feel appreciated.
4. “Admit my faults.”
… So we might be encouraged to do the same. For those reading who do not know this, Austin and I met by competing on the same speech and debate team–a place where a common goal is finding the best kinds of argumentation. Therefore, both our needs to be right are over and over the hardest part of this marriage. Husbands, when we see you stepping back and admitting where you are wrong, we will be reminded of where we can be better all the more.
5. “Show effort to fight my faults.”
And is this not always the next step? We would neither want to admit to something we don’t plan on changing nor have you admit to something you did not want to change. Together, we are broken, dirty, dusty sinners. Husbands, we are so grateful that we can know that together and place effort into being sanctified together.
6. “Tell her why I love her.”
And we will be charmed by you all over again.
7. “Ask her questions–her opinion matters.”
When you demonstrate that you admire our opinion, we will feel adored. As a wife whose main job in our marriage is to ensure everything around the house is done, I can often lose my sense of worth. I become bogged down, convinced that once I leave school and get a job, then I will be doing something of value. Moments like these–where you verbalize that our hearts are valuable to you–are some of the sweetest, most affirming moments of our days.
8. “Share deep sinful struggles that others might not detect.”
When you do this, we feel trusted. We are reminded that this marriage is so much more than a relationship with ‘the guys’ or even family. It is a covenant that we have entrusted to one another completely by choice. We are reminded that we share with one another because there is not a person in the world we would rather have praying for us or interceding our sins.
9. “Tell her, thank you for your effort in this marriage.”
Husbands, when you say this, we feel honored. Honored to have dusted the furniture. Honored to have cooked dinner. Honored to have brought home a paycheck. But even more so, honored to have encouraged you, to have lifted you up, to have spoken words of kindness when we really didn’t want to. We feel honored to have served you and overwhelmingly grateful for the ways you serve us.
10. “Pray with her.”
And we will feel esteemed.
11. “Encourage her in her giftings.”
And we feel revived in how we are called to the Kingdom of God.
12. “Show her a willingness to sacrifice.”
Husbands, future husbands, and men considering marriage, when you do this, we feel priceless. I can’t wait to tell Austin that this is probably my favorite. We have already been sacrificed for on a Friday-night-bloody cross. So when we hear you say that you would sacrifice for us as well, it subtly reminds us that you are seeking to love us as Christ loves the Church.
13. “Extend the benefit of the doubt.”
When you extend this grace–this grace when we say something we shouldn’t have or neglect to show grace to you–we feel credible. We feel that you know our hearts and know that we mess up sometimes. And you better bet that next time this happens, we will remember and think before we act.
14. “Ask, how can I help?”
…And our time and efforts will feel cherished.
15. “When asked to do something, respond in joy.”
Our sweet partners in marriage, when you respond in joy, so will we! Oh, how this makes for a fun, playful relationship, even when we are caught up in responsibilities.
16. “Pray for her spiritual safety.”
We will feel it in our bones. Your prayer will pour over us because our Savior is faithful to provide when we pray for His desires.
17. “Press on her heart for a deep theological understanding of Christ and how that’s changing her.”
When you press in this way, we will feel challenged. We will feel ready to grow, to build our relationship with the Lord that we might be able to share it with you. We will feel rejuvenated when discussing the implications of “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It will spark conversation that will never end because His word is eternal.
18. “Go to work thinking about her over my job.”
And we will know that our individual identities do not lie within a workplace, but our workplaces are valued in providing for our marriage. I know few better ways to help one another feel important than this.
19. “Affirm her in Christ, challenge her outside of Christ.”
It’s hard to hear reproof–especially from someone whom you love so dearly. However, it is necessary for sanctification. I may respond poorly at first. I may push back on being challenged when I am acting outside of Him at first, but when you press on me with truth and love, I will be better trained in righteousness.
20. “Most importantly, we need to love Jesus more than her, because I’m certain that it’s in those moments that she feels most loved :).”
Amen on amen on amen. Husbands, there is no one–not you or our friends or our families–that will make us feel more loved that Jesus Christ. He is it. He is the standard. He is the constant. When you love Him more than us, you will inherently become more like Him. You will be able to love us more like Him.
I pray that my relationship with Austin is absolutely nothing in comparison to his relationship with Christ.
I can’t even describe to you how clearly God’s design for us shows when he sees Jesus shining first. His heart becomes one of, I love Him so dearly that I want to be just like him in everything. He wants to listen closely. He wants to sacrifice his time and resources. He wants to challenge and encourage me and love me so intentionally that I cannot imagine being loved more by any human being on the face of this earth.