Let me begin by saying clearly, the end-all-be-all of a marriage is not having an attractive wife. I do not believe you will be able to read this post and walk away with that conclusion. The goal of marriage is to experience more of God’s love for the church through the delight that a husband and wife take in one another (Eph. 5:32). Attractiveness is but one of those delights.
In this post, I want to examine seven ways that a husband can delights in the beauty of his wife for a lifetime.
1. Treat her with honor.
There is a simple relational principle; we find appealing those we honor and unappealing those we dishonor. This principle is, in my opinion, more powerful than its inverse; we honor those we find appealing and dishonor those we find unappealing. The more you honor your wife in day-to-day communications (i.e., your sense of humor, conflict, how you speak of her to others, your private thoughts of her, etc…) the ever more attractive she will become in your eyes.
2. Limit stress by…
… living within your time limits. All forms of stress are physically taxing and accelerate our physical deterioration. When you are not content to live within your 168 hour week, you will not have the time to continue to know the-person-of-your-wife so you will over-rely upon the appearance of the-body-of-your-wife as the basis of your delight; the same body you are taxing through additional stress.
… living within your financial limits. Being overdrawn financially leads to more conflict and more time apart. Both of these factors make it harder to treat one another with honor (see point #1).
… allowing time to steward your bodies and interests. Caring for our bodies and developing our interests require time. Fit bodies and people developing their interests are more attractive (physically, intellectually, and emotionally) than people who are neglecting these areas.
3. Rehearse her virtues.
You are going to repeat something in your mind many times over the course of the day. Let it be those things that you find attractive (physically, character, skills, etc…) about your wife. If you repeat those things that are disappointing or not according to your preferences, or if you neglect to think about your wife until you are in her presence, your sense of attraction to her will fade.
4. Remember the score-board principle.
Many marriage materials say, “Don’t keep a score board.” I agree with this in principle, but know we all do it anyway. So, if you keep score, do so with a realization of your scoring bias. You know 100% of the kind actions or thoughts you have towards your wife. You only know a very small percentage of your wife’s kindnesses towards you. I often say to my wife, “Thank you for all the things I don’t have to think about.” That means I have no idea of everything I should be appreciating. That also means that if on my score board, I’m not radically winning, then I am really losing. So, if I feel like I am doing more than she is, then things might be about where they should be.
5. Invest in your family.
“Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:21).” If you invest in your work or your hobby more than your marriage, don’t expect to delight in your wife. You need to put as much creative energy into your family as you do any other area of your life. Start with this question, “If I had a daughter, how would I want her husband to invest in her and my grandkids?” And then ask, “Why am I willing for my wife to have to settle for less than I want for my daughter?”
6. Stay humble.
If you think less of your wife than you should, it’s probably because you think more of yourself than you should. We live in a culture where, too often, the “social capital” of men increases with age and for women it decreases. That is but one way the Fall has corrupted our culture. If you find yourself wondering if you could “do better,” then you have significantly lost your bearings and need some mature Christian men to help you ground yourself in personal humility and relational honor.
7. Allow your definition of beauty to mature with her.
Too often we take Proverbs 31:30 to be a chick-verse in a woman’s chapter of the Bible, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting (NIV).” Men need to accept this too. If your definition of beauty does not mature as you age, then you’ll live a life of regret (not to mention, you’ll start to be creepy). When you got married, beauty changed from an abstract concept to a concrete face, body, voice, smile, etc… Protect your wife by allowing your definition of beauty to mature as she does.
This post goes on the list of things that aren’t complicated, but are hard. Most of the things on this list share one thing in common – they require dying to self in order to love God and love others well.
Chances are you were not blown away by any of the practical advice in this post. That should be both encouraging and discouraging. It is encouraging to know that the most relationally inept person can love well. It is discouraging to realize that most often our only excuse for not loving well is pure neglect of relational basics.
This should call our attention again to our need for the gospel in order to have a satisfying marriage. Our marriages deteriorate not because marriage is complex, but because we are selfish and self-centered. Even when we want to be selfless to love well those we care about, we fall short.
In order to love well, we need something that can motivate us to die to ourselves without simultaneously causing us to cave in on ourselves through self-pity or martyrdom. There is only one person (Jesus Christ) with one message (the gospel) who can accomplish these twin tasks. The more we rely on what Christ did for us and treasure the gospel until we emulate it, the more naturally we will treat others as God has treated us.
If this is an area you want to grow, I would invite you to attend one or more of the upcoming Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminars. Dates, times, location, and RSVP are provided at this link.
If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Marriage” post which address other facets of this subject.