9 Ways to Defuse a Disagreement

"Abandon a quarrel before it breaks out." | 9 Ways to Defuse a Disagreement (http://lovinglifeathome)My father was one of the friendliest, most gregarious men I’ve ever met. He loved people — but he also loved a spirited debate. Mom always said Dad would argue with a fence post.

My mother was decidedly not fond of fiery discussions. She has always detested conflict of any sort. Dad would often tease Mom, trying to get a rise out of her, but she would not be baited. He might as well have been arguing with that famed fencepost, for all the luck he had in drawing his wife into an argument.

By nature, I tend to take after my father, but by conscious effort, I try to follow my mother’s example.

Scripture says it would be better to live in a desert or in the corner of a roof than in a house with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. (Proverbs 21:19; 25:14) My mother’s willingness to “abandon a quarrel before it breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14) made our home a more pleasant and peaceful place to live — for all of us.

Of course, you may not always see eye-to-eye with your husband. When there are areas of disagreement or concerns that need to be discussed, take care to do so in a calm, cool, collected, and consistently respectful way.

Communicating respect to your husband does not necessitate keeping all your thoughts to yourself. It does not mean going along with his every whim, even when serious reservations exist.

Showing respect is not about suppressing your feelings; it’s really more about the tone with which those feelings are expressed.

A disrespectful tone communicates, “Listen, you idiot, let me set you straight on this matter, because it’s obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Of course, we would (hopefully) never actually say such a thing, but our husbands will sometimes hear these words in our tone, even when we don’t utter them outright.

A respectful tone, by contrast, first hears the other person out. It always gives thoughtful consideration to what is being said, even if the speaker isn’t able to articulate his ideas as easily as you yourself might be able to do so. A respectful tone validates the other person by saying, “I see your point,” before continuing, “but have you considered…?”

Many times, our husbands do things in a different way than we would do them, but that doesn’t mean their way is wrong. Go with the flow for as long as possible, then when an issue arises that you really feel strongly about, you will have stored up some goodwill by not having contradicted the two or three dozen choices he’s made prior to the current one. It is easy for our husbands to grow weary and lose patience when we argue and second-guess each and every decision they make.

As for preventing difficult discussions from escalating into angry arguments, follow these guidelines to keep tempers from flaring:

  1. Practice Attentive Listening
  2. Pay attention to what your spouse is trying to say to you. Hear him out. Don’t just pretend to be listening while you mentally rehearse what you plan to say next.

    “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” – Proverbs 18:13

  3. Demonstrate Genuine Love
  4. If you will focus on all the reasons you love this person instead of on the things that irritate you about him, you will be much less likely to say something you later regret.

    “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” – Proverbs 10:12

  5. Maintain Calm Voices
  6. Don’t allow the pitch to creep up in your conversation. Maintain a gracious, soft-spoken demeanor at all times.

    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

  7. Use Word Pictures
  8. Well thought-out word pictures and analogies are a great way to communicate a concern without being abrasive and accusatory.

    “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11

  9. Keep Sweet Speech
  10. Let your words be filled with kindness and seasoned with grace; do not resort to name calling or exaggerated accusations.

    “Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” – Proverbs 16:21

  11. Exercise Patient Understanding
  12. Try to see the situation from your spouse’s point of view. Be empathetic. Put yourself in his shoes to better appreciate his perspective.

    “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” – Proverbs 14:29

  13. Remain Cool-Headed
  14. Weigh your words carefully, always and only speaking the truth in love. Don’t be rash.

    “A hot-tempered person stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.” – Proverbs 15:18

  15. Show Sincere Humility
  16. Rid your tone (and your heart) of all pride and condescension, neither of which serve any purpose but to stir up strife and discord.

    “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

  17. Express Earnest Repentance
  18. Show appropriate, unfeigned remorse over any wrongdoing. Apologize for offensive things you have said or done without excusing your actions or casting blame on your spouse.

    “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” – Revelation 3:19

Through her example, my mother taught me that I don’t always have to have the last word; I don’t need to drive home my point; I’m under no obligation to convince others I’m right.

It takes two to argue. Isn’t it liberating to know that? It takes two — and you don’t have to be one of them.

This post is excerpted from my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband. For more marriage encouragement, connect with me on Facebook.

A Plea for Perseverance

Your Most Telling Declarations of Love Aren't Made on Valentine's | A Plea for Perseverance from Loving Life at HomeWhen I was in high school I dated a boy who would go all-out for Valentine’s Day: balloon bouquets, long-stemmed red roses, boxes of chocolates, candlelight dinners.

Every day for the week, some grand new token of his affection would be delivered to my doorstep.

But then, Valentine’s would be over, and that would be that.

Two years older and away at college, he would go entire semesters without so much as a phone call or a post card. The stark contrast gave me a little bit of a jaded view toward all things cupid.

In my mind, Valentine’s Day is just window dressing. It’s a public display that may or may not accurately represent what is truly stored up in one’s heart.

Our most telling declarations of love aren’t made on February 14th — they are made in the days and weeks and months that follow.

When my husband brings home heart-shaped candy boxes and fancy flowers this time of year, I know that it’s (at least partially) because he knows the nurses at the hospital are going to quiz him about what he got me.

But when he brings me hot tea when I’m sick? Or starts a load of laundry for me when I’m busy? Or runs my bathwater when I’m tired? Or makes a list at work of things he wants to tell me when he gets home? He’s not doing any of that for show. Nobody will ever ask him about it. He does those things purely because he loves me and takes pleasure in demonstrating that fact in practical, everyday ways.

I love that about him.

Wives can be just as guilty as men of pouring so much thought and energy into a single day that little is left over for later.

If you enjoyed an extra-special evening of romance with your husband on the 14th, terrific. But don’t expect that single interlude to carry him over until next Valentine’s Day — or even until next week.

Sometimes when a wife breaks out the candles, perfume, background music, and lacey negligees, she’s tempted afterward to think, Wow! I really outdid myself tonight! That should tide my husband over for at least a week or two!

Meanwhile, her husband is thinking, Wow! That was great! We need to do that more often. How about tomorrow?

Wives want to serve sporadic samplings of gourmet delicacies, when most husbands would be far more satisfied with a steady diet of meat and potatoes.

So… this is a plea for perseverance. Did you kindle some sparks this weekend? Fan them into a flame, then keep it burning all year long.

Love and Respect – Subway Art Printables

25 Ways to Communicate Respect | free printable Subway Art from http://lovinglifeathome.comI’ve been pondering what to get my husband this year for Valentine’s Day, as it’s only a week away.

In years past, I’ve written him poems, like this or this. And once I stitched him a silk-embroidered bed pillow, which has been broadcasting the same secret message for more than a decade now.

But just as I was starting to feel stumped for ideas, Doug made it super-easy on me.

“Valentine’s is coming up,” he reminded me earlier this week. “I thought it might be good for you to turn our Love and Respect lists into some sort of graphic we could post for the occasion.”

I told him I thought that was a great idea and got right to work on it. The next day, I presented him with two pieces of subway art: the one pictured here on communicating respect and another (which you can find on his blog) on expressing love.

Incidentally, Doug’s been making good progress on the book version of 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife, which should be available sometime this spring. The parts I’ve read so far are terrific! You can expect more detailed posts from him on related topics as he continues to work on that, so you may want to subscribe to his blog if you don’t already follow it.

Meanwhile, if you’ve not yet registered for our Valentine’s Day Romance and Respect Book Bundle Giveaway, you only have a week left to do so. Sign up here for a chance to win a copy of Heidi St. John’s Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance and my 25 Ways to Communicate Respect.

Great Advice for Busy Wives

Great Advice for Busy Wives | a book review and giveaway from Loving Life at HomeI’ve been seeing advertisements for Heidi St. John’s book, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance, for years now.

From the first time I spotted that adorable picture of Heidi on the cover, I knew it was a book I would enjoy. But being the busy homeschool mom that I am, I didn’t get around to ordering a copy until a couple of weeks ago.

Once it arrived, I blazed through it quickly. It’s a fast read, but chock full of godly wisdom and practical advice for busy wives at every age and stage of life (whether they’re homeschooling moms or not).

In it, I found such jewels as this:

“…the best mothering is borne out of an overflow of a strong, committed marriage. Loving your husband is a choice. Seeing him as God’s gift to you is a powerful thing. Every day that you share with the husband of your youth is a day that you can choose to love him with the kind of passion that God meant for you to enjoy.”

And this (which is applicable not only to homeschooling, but to any other job or extra-curricular involvement, as well):

“Remember, your calendar will reflect your priorities. Most busy homeschool moms don’t choose curriculum with their husbands in mind. But I’m here to tell you that if your curriculum leaves you cold and exhausted at the end of the day, it’s time to find a curriculum that is more suited to helping you put the priority on your marriage.”

And also this:

“To ignore the sexual needs of your husband or to reject his advances is to tear at the fabric of who you are as a couple. Don’t be fooled into thinking sex doesn’t matter. It does. Neglect this part of your marriage and you will suffer devastating results.”

At the same time, Heidi offers hope, even for marriages that seem irreparably lost. I love the analogy she uses of Jesus speaking life back into the dead body of Jarius’s 12-year-old daughter (Matthew 9:18-26). Just as Christ quickened that beloved child and restored her to health, He can breathe life and warmth and beauty back into a desperate, dead, or dying marriage.

Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your HusbandI am so convinced you will be blessed by this book that I’ve decided to give a copy away for Valentine’s Day. And because romance goes hand-in-hand with respect, I’m also including a copy of my new book (25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband) in the giveaway. Enter here for your chance to win:

DISCLOSURE: This is NOT a sponsored post. Although it does contain affiliate links, it was written without Heidi St. John’s knowledge or consent, and the books offered in this giveaway were not donated for that purpose, but have been bought and paid for by me.

Turn Your Thinking Around

Have you bought into society’s low view of marriage? It’s time to turn your thinking around. Read through the following statements from top to bottom, then bottom to top. Which better reflects what you believe? (Personally, I believe this is one instance that backward thinking makes the best sense).

It's Time to Turn Your Thinking Around : Re-examining What We Believe about Marriage | Loving Life at Home

What Society Teaches about Marriage:
(read top to bottom)

Modern day marriages don’t last
That is why
You should only look out for #1
It is foolish to think
You can live happily ever after
By giving your all
To build up your man
Take whatever measures are necessary
To maintain your autonomy
Don’t worry about trying
To give 110%
Always remember instead
That marriage is a 50-50 proposition
Don’t think for a minute
Your husband will respond in kind
If you treat him with respect
That’s a lie
Being a submissive wife makes you a doormat
I don’t believe
Marriage is worth the sacrifice

What Christianity Teaches about Marriage:
(read bottom to top)

“Turn Your Thinking Around: Time to Reconsider What We’ve Been Taught about Marriage”
Copyright Jennifer Flanders, 2014. First published on Loving Life at Home

Happy Thanksgiving {Book Giveaway}

Since my new book was released last week, I decided to make a printable coupon collection to go along with it. I thought it might be something wives might enjoy slipping into their husband’s Christmas stocking — and something their husbands would be happy to receive.

A free printable collection of coupons for a wife to present to her husband | from

My own husband got a sneak peek at the coupon book I was assembling for him last night, however, and insisted I post it today. “It will be a great little Thanksgiving gift for your readers,” he told me, “and it will put their husbands in a really thankful mood, too.

So, here it is. Click on the image above to download. After printing, you’ll just need to cut the coupons apart, put them in numerical order, and staple the stack together on the edge.

As an added bonus, I am also sponsoring a Rafflecopter giveaway. (Click on the link to enter.) The winner will receive eight copies of 25 Ways to Communicate Respect.

A book to discuss with your married friends -- enter to win 8 copies, and you can easily do just that!

Why eight copies to one winner? Because the book lends itself so well to discussion. The post that inspired the book received over 1000 comments in sixteen weeks. That tells me that communicating respect is a topic women care about. (It’s certainly a topic men care about!)

I would have happily gone on discussing it, too, but my husband asked me to close the comments last December, so I did. But I still had more to say on the topic, which is how that original short post morphed into a full-length book–a book that I hope many wives will read and take to heart.

Offering multiple copies in this giveaway is my way of encouraging the winner to share it with her friends, so that they can discuss what they learn and hold one another accountable in applying it to their lives and marriages.

Is Your Husband a Problem Solver?

Does your husband like to fix things? Here are 3 things you can do next time he supplies answers when you're looking for sympathy...Are you married to a man who likes to fix things? Do you get perturbed when you look to your husband for sympathy, and he insists on offering answers, instead?

It’s tempting, when you’re upset, to interpret this hasty rush to a solution as evidence that your husband doesn’t really understand the situation, doesn’t fully appreciate the distress it has caused you, can’t adequately feel your pain. You may even think that his no-nonsense approach to the matter is just an attempt to shut you up, because he’s tired of hearing you bellyache.

I’ve entertained such thoughts myself in the past, and still have a hard time believing they aren’t at least partially true.

Yet, according to a growing body of scientific evidence, our husbands respond the way they do simply because that is how their brains are wired. (If you’d like to read all the fascinating details regarding this research, I highly recommend Louann Brizendine’s The Male Brain.)

Studies have now confirmed what we’ve all long suspected: Men and women think very differently.

A man can’t understand why his wife would waste valuable time complaining about something he could easily fix in just a few minutes. And a woman is equally perplexed, because her husband seems incapable of listening without taking on an advisory role.

Often, all we really want is a little sympathy.

We need to realize, however, that this is a husband’s way of sympathizing. Mentally searching for a solution is his way of communicating his concern, of proving that he cares, and of expressing heartfelt empathy in the way that comes most naturally to him.

Even so, it grates on us. So what’s a beleaguered wife to do?

If you want to avoid the conflict that sometimes springs from your spouse’s different method of thinking about and dealing with problems, then you really have only three options:

  1. Stop complaining
  2. Warn him ahead of time if all you want is a hug or a prayer or a shoulder to cry on
  3. Listen to his counsel and accept his advice

The first option — stop complaining — is just a good rule of thumb in general. Nobody likes to be around a whiner or complainer, and the more positive we can remain towards our life and circumstances, the better off we’ll be. Nevertheless, there are times when difficult situations must be addressed and discussed. So what, then?

The second option — letting your spouse know up front that you just want him to listen without offering advice — may (theoretically) help from your point of view, but it will probably feel like torture to your husband.

Consider how you would react if the tables were turned: Imagine your husband comes home complaining of feeling famished. You offer him a snack, try to cook him some dinner, point him to the pantry, propose going out to eat, but your every suggestion is met with fierce resistance. Not only that, but your spouse accuses you of being insensitive for even attempting to come up with a solution.

“Why do you always have to fix things?” he might ask in exasperation. “I haven’t eaten all day! I’m starting to feel faint! Can’t you see how upset I am? I don’t need advice; I need sympathy. I just want to know that you’re on my side — that you understand!”

Wouldn’t it feel a little disingenuous to merely pat your husband on the back in such a situation and tell him that you’re sorry he’s having such a hard time?

Well, that’s exactly how our husbands feel, too, when we put such constraints on them and attempt to dictate their emotional responses.

In the same way that you’d feel compelled to let your hungry husband know there’s hot bread in the oven, your husband feels obligated to share his best answer to whatever problem is troubling you.

And that brings us to the third option — you can listen to your husband’s counsel and accept his advice. Don’t automatically pooh-pooh his suggestions, like the woman in this video:

He’s offering you a fresh perspective, a different vantage point, so hear him out, then do your best to implement his most reasonable recommendations.

Believe me, I know this is easier said than done. I do not like change in general, so my knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion that we do something differently is to argue in favor of the status quo.

This usually backfires.

That’s because, in God’s great providence, I married a man who embraces change with hearty enthusiasm. You might even say he likes change for change’s sake, although life with me has tempered that tendency somewhat. (Isn’t it wonderful how God balances extremes in personalities by uniting them in holy matrimony?)

I’ve learned not to complain about trivial matters, because I know my doing so will trigger my husband’s problem-solving circuits, which will inevitably lead to some sort of change that feels (to me) like more of a hassle than whatever matter I was grousing about to begin with.

Unfortunately, this does not get me completely off the hook in the advice department, because sometimes my spouse will simply see something he thinks is not working as well as it should and will make suggestions based on that observation.

My husband is very smart, extremely attentive to detail, and amazingly adept at “thinking outside the box.” So why wouldn’t I want to immediately adopt whatever measure he’s proposing?

My inborn aversion to change is only part of the problem. If I’m honest, I must admit the rest of it stems from my pride.

The Bible tells us, “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10, NLT)

Ouch! Isn’t that verse convicting? What makes me resistant to my husband’s advice? What makes me want to argue about the best course of action? The Bible says it’s my pride. “Where there is strife, there is pride,” is how the NIV translates it.

Whenever strife and arguments and contention exist, we can be certain pride is somehow involved.

It boils down to this: I want my way. I’m convinced my way is better. Is it better? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ll never know unless I hear my husband out. It is arrogant and stubborn and foolish for me to cling to my own way without even bothering to consider his ideas about a given matter.

His ideas are almost always reasonable. It would be fair to say that many of his ideas border on brilliant. We both know this, so it’s insulting and hurtful to him when I blithely discount or dismiss his suggestions.

Taking my husband’s advice does not mean I’m incapable of thinking through problems or coming up with solutions on my own. It just means I’m willing to consider his perspective and give his way a try.

Why not do the same at your house?

Don’t fight against the way God wired your husband’s brain to work. Next time you face a problem, ask for his advice. Then take it.

Doing so does not mean you’re weak. It means you’re smart.

Give Him a Gift More Precious than Gold

"Your reputation is in the hands of others.... You can't control that. The only thing you can control is your character."I am something of a legend at the hospital where my husband serves as Chief of Staff. Whenever he introduces me to anybody from work, I always hear the same thing:

“It’s so nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Flanders. Your husband talks about you all the time. I feel like I’ve known you for years!”

But the me they think they know is not the one who wakes up with morning breath or burns dinner to a crisp or leaves clothes in the washer so long they sour or has to hire a repairman to tell her that the reason the icemaker isn’t working is because somebody turned it off.

Not even close.

My husband’s colleagues are only familiar with the Wonder Woman version of me — the one who runs marathons and writes books and tutors calculus and sings like an angel and never sleeps.

Keep in mind, very few of these people know me except through what my spouse has told them. If he were inclined to focus on the negative instead of on the positive, their perception of me might be radically skewed (and their esteem for him would probably plummet, as well).

So my question is this: How does your husband’s reputation fare among your friends? When you are out with the girls or gabbing with coworkers, do you build him up or run him down?

What you say reflects on you as much as it does him.

The Bible tells us, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)

Your husband is at your mercy. You know him more intimately than anybody else on the planet. How will you use that knowledge? Will you choose to be a crown or a curse to him?

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Scripture warns us. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:21-22)

Fitting, the juxtaposition of those two verses, don’t you think? Part of what makes a woman a good wife and a crown to her husband is her ability to measure her words, to guard her tongue, to let it be governed by the law of kindness, and to use it to speak words of life:

  • “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Proverbs 21:23)
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
  • “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
  • “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3)

Whether or not you appreciate the fact, your husband’s reputation is of paramount importance to him. Guys would rather feel unloved than disrespected. For ages, men even fought duels for the sake of their honor. They would sooner suffer death than have their name besmirched.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)

Your husband’s good name is your good name, as well (and vice versa), so guard it carefully.Honor him in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Protect his reputation. Don’t let minor irritations or disagreements at home tempt you to badmouth him in public.

Conduct yourself in such a way that others will have no trouble understanding why your husband married you in the first place.

What Shall I Wear?

Keeping Him Captivated | http://lovinglifeathome.comWhen I first published 25 Ways to Communicate Respect over a year ago, I was astounded to see how many women took offense at my suggestion that a wife should dress in a way her husband finds attractive.

In my mind, there were points on the list that were far more controversial than this one — I expected those might draw some criticism — but I never imagined #17 would provoke the ire of so many readers.

No, I’m not trying to reduce women to the sum of their physical attributes, as some falsely accuse. I concede that a woman’s worth is based on infinitely more than what she looks like.

But to say that our appearance does not matter most is not to imply that it does not matter at all.

Men are visual creatures. Putting a wedding ring on their finger does not negate that fact.

Many of us went to great lengths to look good before we got married. We combed and curled and coiffed our hair. We slicked on lip-gloss and crimped our eyelashes and primped in front of the mirror for hours on end.

Why? Because we wanted to look our best. We were trying to attract our guy’s attention. We were willing to do whatever it took to snag a husband and make him our own.

Is it fair, then, for us to pull a bait-and-switch after the wedding? Promising an attractive, put-together wife, but delivering curlers and cold cream? Why do we seem to think that once we marry, we can stop trying?

There may be little chance that I’ll ever be mistaken for a trophy wife, but do I really want to present myself in a way that removes all doubt? After all, the Bible does say that a virtuous wife is a crown to her husband. (Proverbs 12:4) Isn’t a crown a little bit like a trophy?

I want my man to be proud to show me off in public. Don’t you? Don’t you want to keep your husband captivated?

Then dress the part.

I’m not saying you have to wear things that you detest or find uncomfortable, nor do you need to clean your house in a cocktail dress and stiletto heels or shop for groceries in revealing negligees, but I do think you should take care of your appearance and dress in a way that pleases the man you married.

Women in the work force often adhere to very strict standards of dress, whether written or unwritten. You don’t see many female executives showing up at the office in their bathrobes and slippers, do you? Lots of women — including waitresses, nurses, police officers, surgeons, and even Supreme Court justices — must wear prescribed uniforms to work every day.

So why all the resistance about looking good on the home front? There is nothing demeaning about a woman wearing clothes her husband finds flattering and pretty. This is not oppressive. It’s not objectification.

It is simply something a wife chooses to do because she loves her man and values his opinions. It’s the same reason she pays attention to her health and hygiene and tries to get adequate rest and exercise — not only because she respects husband, but because she respects herself and wants to look and feel her best.

  • She wants to look her best in public

    because she understands that when she goes out into the community, she is not only representing herself, but her husband and family, as well.

  • She wants to look her best at home

    because she knows that looking good and feeling comfortable does not have to be an either-or proposition. (And she can really rock an apron).

  • She wants to look her best in private

    because that’s when it’s especially easy to please her guy. (Just because an outfit is not modest enough to wear in public or in front of the kids does not mean you can never wear it at all. Lock the bedroom door and slip into something just for your husband. Do this regularly enough, and he won’t care what you wear to clean out the garage.)

Of course, looking your best encompasses much more than what clothes you put on your body.
Our appearance is more than our apparel.

Scripture tells us our “adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but it [should] be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

So our carriage also comes into play. Our attitudes and behavior speak volumes, revealing not only what we think of ourselves, but also how we regard everyone around us.

Including our husbands.

“What attracts men to women is their femininity,” writes Dr. Laura Schlessinger in The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, “and femininity isn’t only about appearance, it’s also about behaviors. Looking womanly and behaving sweetly and flirtatiously are gifts wives give to their husbands. This gift communicates that the husband is seen as a man, not just a fix-it guy, the bread-winner, or the sperm donor.”

That’s a good reminder.

Sprucing up for your husband and treating him like a man is not only good for him and good for your marriage — it’s good for you, as well. Doesn’t it make you feel strong and confident and desirable when you flash your husband a knowing smile and his heart gives a little flutter in response?

You captivated his attention before marriage. Why not make the effort to turn his head again?

Fostering Friendship with your Husband

"Life is better with your best friend. That's why I married mine." - unknown
The day I first met my husband, we spent three hours so totally absorbed in conversation that we were oblivious to all else. A casual observer might have assumed we were just talking, but Doug was actually and actively sweeping me off my feet at the time.

“So… I heard you don’t date,” he said to me on our second meeting.

He’d heard right, although this was more a statement of fact than a matter of principle. At our small Christian college, everyone who knew me knew that I wanted to get married, have a lot of children, and homeschool them all — and there wasn’t exactly a glut of guys vying for the chance to make that dream come true. The few who had ventured to ask me out had been summarily turned down (or scared off) once it became apparent that we didn’t share the same vision or values.

But this guy was different. My life goals neither deterred nor intimidated him, but seemed rather to pique his interest.

“I don’t date either,” he continued. (By this he meant that he’d given up dating the minute he met me.) “So… how will we spend time together?”

He then proceeded to offer a slew of suggestions: Could we eat together in the cafeteria? Yes. Could we study together at the library? Yes. Could we go to church together on Sundays? Yes. Could we attend concerts, banquets, and other campus events together? Yes. Yes. And yes, again.

We’ve been virtually inseparable ever since. While we never did call it dating, we spent as many of our waking hours together as possible, then married a year later, so we could spend our resting hours together, as well.

Whether a couple is just starting out or has been married for years, togetherness is of vital importance for the nurture and health of their friendship. How can you truly know another person unless you spend time in his presence?

Written letters, phone calls, texts, Skype, Twitter, Facebook — these are all great ways to stay connected when separation is unavoidable, but they can’t hold a candle to communicating face to face with your beloved in the living, breathing flesh.

Some couples assume togetherness will be the status quo after marriage. They expect that if two people live under the same roof, they’ll no longer have to work at coordinating schedules and carving out time for one another. That sort of thing just happens automatically, doesn’t it?

Or does it?

That might be true for the time a couple is on their honeymoon trip, but as soon as they get back home and return to school or work, life’s other obligations and responsibilities will begin conspiring to distract their attention, steal their time, and dampen their intimacy. Unless husband and wife are both careful to protect, preserve, and cherish their time together, it will slowly be eroded away and their friendship will suffer as a result.

To keep that from happening, you must be intentional about the time you spend with your spouse. Don’t let outside activities infringe upon your time together as a couple. You may have no choice but to be apart during working hours, but limit extra-curricular activities that segregate you from one another too frequently.

Need some practical ways to foster friendship with your beloved?

  • Set time aside daily to connect with your husband.

    This might be over coffee in the morning before children are up and work duties call, or maybe over a warm bath before you turn in at night. Either way, use the time as an opportunity to discuss the day’s events and your thoughts concerning them, to relate funny or interesting things that happened while your were apart, to summarize the day’s accomplishments, to share any concerns, needs, or prayer requests, and to pray about them together.

  • Jealously guard your family time in the evenings.

    As much as possible, say no to evening activities that take you and your husband in separate directions. An occasional board meeting or girls night out may be fine, but if your family if fragmented every night of the week for months on end, it will completely undermine all sense of togetherness.

  • Make the master bedroom a private retreat.

    If you haven’t installed a pick-proof lock on your bedroom door, please do not wait another day to do so. This will afford you and your husband instant privacy whenever you want or need it, which is especially important once children join the family.

  • Take an active interest in your husband’s hobbies.

    Learn what you can about his favorite sports and pastimes, then join him as a fan and cheerleader or an active participant.

Life really is better when you’re married to your best friend, but any friendship flounders when you fail to invest adequate time and energy in it. What are your favorite ways to foster friendship with your husband?