By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
In years past, roles within a marriage and family were clearly defined. Women were expected to run a household and raise their children. While these aspects are still an integral part of a marriage, women are taking on other roles, such as working outside the home and ministering in their churches. Yet, in many homes, a wife is still expected to complete tasks and be their children's main caregiver. Although roles are changing, husbands can demonstrate their support in significant ways. Here are five ways a husband can be supportive of his wife:
1. Pray with Her
The most important area you can support your wife is in prayer. As a husband, it is necessary for you to take the lead in praying with—and for—your family. Families are under spiritual warfare now more than ever. Marriages are crumbling, divorce rates are skyrocketing, and children are in despair. But it is hard to be mad at someone when you're praying with them. Sharing prayer requests deepens the intimate bond between you and your wife. It helps you to know what's on your heart and also helps her to know she is not alone. Furthermore, as you pray for requests together, you demonstrate that you identify her needs and desires and are actively seeking to meet them.
2. Honor Her
Doctor Henry Cloud, the author of the book Boundaries, encouraged husbands on his radio show not to view a wife's criticism as personal judgment. Instead, see it for what it really is: an expression of a need. Husbands must understand that when a wife is frustrated, underneath that frustration is an emotional need that's gone unmet. When you cease to take her frustration as a personal criticism and start seeing it as an expression of her needs, you can ask the Lord how you best can meet it. Even if you don't fully understand what she is expressing, ask the Lord to reveal it to you.
Marriage is a sacred covenant honored by God. His will is to see all marriages flourish and thrive—not merely survive. You vowed to love, honor, and cherish your wife on your wedding day. But if she constantly feels you are dismissing her, you are not living up to your vows. Furthermore, as she becomes more discontent, this will create more distance in your relationship. Satan will capitalize on this, and it will become fertile ground for Satan to tempt you in ways that may eventually destroy your marriage. Although you are not responsible for meeting every one of your wife's needs, striving to understand her better and resolve issues accordingly demonstrates how much you honor your relationship. If you find you're having difficulty understanding her needs, seek the help of a professional to help you process and communicate in healthy ways. This will increase your communication and, ultimately, the intimacy within your marriage bond.
3. Take an Equal Role in the Chores
When a husband tells the wife he's going to help her around the house, he implies that it's her primary role and that he is merely assisting her. But if both parties are working outside the home, it's only fair that both have a hand in cleaning the house when they come home. It is unfair for the wife to have to do the work of several people. This minimizes her value and can make her feel like a maid rather than a wife. For every hour of work that she does cleaning and cooking, match it. If she cleans one bathroom, offer to take another bathroom to clean. If she cleans the kitchen, offer to clean the living room. For rooms you both use, clean up after yourself and take the initiative to take care of them. Take turns completing bedtime routines for your children and other chores such as bathing, feeding them, and caring for them when they are sick. By doing so, you demonstrate being a good steward of the home—and people—God has entrusted to your care.
4. Submit to Each Other
Ephesians 5:21-24 says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
Some churches overuse this passage to describe what a healthy marriage relationship should look like. They often focus on wives submitting to their husbands as husbands assume their role as the head of the house. They often neglect verse 21, which says, "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
It is important to note that while wives should submit to their husbands, husbands can also submit to their wives. If a husband is honoring his role in the marriage, which is to give himself up for her, she should feel that she's being put first in every situation. Therefore, it would be easy for her to submit to her husband when conflict or a situation arises, resulting in an impasse. If a husband is giving himself up for his wife as Christ gave himself up for the church, it will be easy for him to submit to her when he knows she is right. In the same way, a wife will find it easy to submit to a husband who puts her first in every situation. This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Ephesian church regarding how husbands and wives should relate to each other.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Ippei Naoi
5. Be the Bad Cop
In relationships, opposites attract. A man with a laid-back attitude might be attracted to a woman who is not afraid to take charge and be proactive in situations. Similarly, a man who takes charge and is proactive in every situation might be attracted to a more submissive woman. In a family dynamic, especially one in which parents are raising children, it is important that at least one parent correct bad behavior and instill good, moral values within their children. This sometimes makes one parent the "bad cop" in kids' eyes as they receive unfavorable punishment. If a wife is home raising her children all day, it easily puts her in this position. However, by becoming the bad cop, she can take solace in knowing she can trust you to do the hard things in situations that warrant corrective behavior. Children are more apt to respect their parents if the husband is the one they know falls through on consequences and is firm in his boundaries.
The key to a good marriage is not only good communication but also mutual trust and respect. When those aspects are missing, marriages are in jeopardy of becoming an unhealthy environment in which to raise children. By supporting your wife in these ways, you create an atmosphere where your wife can trust you to make good decisions and biblically lead the home.