(Rated M for “Mature”)
The average man is often too consumed with pleasing himself and meeting his own needs in the marriage relationship. The Bible says in Ephesians 5 that we should love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. That is selfless love! That is giving to meet one’s needs without regard to whether you get what you want out of the deal.
It is true that our Creator designed sex. He created us to be sexual beings. It brings no more pleasure to God that Christians have a cold, boring marriage bed, than it would bring pleasure to Da Vinci to put the Mona Lisa in a dark closet or bring pleasure to John Bunyan to have his classicPilgrim’s Progress in a box of never-read books in your garage. Sinners are having too much sex, and Christians not enough! Immodest body-worshipers are consumed with how their body looks, and Christians don’t give enough thought to it! Sinners are consumed with pleasing their lovers, and Christians could care less. Sinners are consumed with nude images of strangers, but Christian couples turn off the lights before sex. What’s wrong with this? It is not God’s will.
The sexual promiscuity we find in society is a counterfeit of a godly authentic. Christians should avoid the devil’s counterfeits by abstaining from lust and immodesty, but we should not avoid the potential of our sexuality within the will of God. It’d be foolish to be so worried about counterfeit money that we never used the real thing. Likewise, it is foolish and displeasing to God that so many of us fear the devil’s counterfeit of sex that we rest content with marriages without intimacy. As a physician and a marriage counselor, I am shocked to discover how many marriages lack sexual satisfaction. That’s not virtuous. Asceticism or fasting from pleasures is appropriate for periods of time, but only with mutual consent and only temporarily. According to the Scriptures, to avoid sexual pleasures apart from temporary fasting and prayer may lead to sin (I Cor. 7:5). As the book of Song of Solomon shows us, intimacy between husband and wife is wholesome and mutually gratifying. That’s God’s will for our marriages.
I Corinthians 7:34-35: “But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife…. she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”
To not care about pleasing your spouse with the things of the world is unbiblical and contrary to the will of God. The Bible does not tell us to care for the things of the world in order that we may please ourselves, but rather, in order that we may please our spouse. Most marital discord and dissatisfaction results from being consumed with getting our own needs met and not meeting the needs of our spouse.
In order to please my wife, I’ve got to know what pleases her, and that requires study. Besides sin, the greatest enemy of Christian marriages is laziness. Men are astute students of sports, hunting, successful business models, etc. But when it comes to one of the most important things in our lives – our marriages – we cease trying and leave everything to chance. We don’t study our wife’s needs and desires. God doesn’t care if I’m a Big 10 expert or a bass fishing expert or a stock market expert. But I must be an Elizabeth Johnston expert! I must care for the things of the world in order that I may please her.
Ephesians 5:28-29: “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.”
Let’s be like Christ, and stop worrying about our rights and needs and begin to consume ourselves with meeting the needs of our spouse. You will find that God, in His infinite wisdom, has so wired the male-female connections that the quickest way to get your own cup filled is to meet your wife’s needs until her cup runneth over! (What do you have to lose? It’s not like many of you are getting much good sex anyway!)
Let me preface this by making sure that you understand that I am not arguing for men to become effeminate homemakers. I believe in the biblical model of men as leaders and providers and women as homemakers and child-bearers. However, if a husband wants to make his wife’s job pleasant and enjoyable, he will make a significant effort in studying his wife and pleasing her.
There are several things that you men can do to rock your wife’s world!
1. Clean up your mess!
I was raised a slob. You would not believe how messy our house was. I was the oldest of five boys, and we destroyed every home in which we ever lived! In the last home we lived in when I was in high school, the kitchen sink, full of last year’s dirty dishes, basically rotted through the floor of the trailer from unrepaired sink leaks. The residue that collected on the oven made it a fire hazard, so we cooked in the microwave. We ate off of paper plates in front of the television. The closet beside the washing machine was filled with outgrown clothes from the past several years, mildewed and rat-nibbled until mildew spores protruded from the closet whenever the door was accidentally cracked. At least, after a while, the clothes stopped falling out when the door was opened; they hardened in their crumpled state, firmed by the waste of unsmashed insects and uncaught rodents.
I’ve seen filthy habits and filthy homes contribute to divorce! It is a bad testimony to unbelievers. The Bible says that the early church broke bread from house to house; I’ve seen filthy homes prevent such invitations and hinder church fellowship. That is not God’s will. Jesus taught that if a man can’t be faithful in little things, how can he be faithful in grand things. If you can’t clean up your bedroom, how can God trust you to clean up your kids’ lives, purify a church body, cleanse a government of corruption, or to transform a Muslim kingdom into a Christian one! Come on! If we’re going to dream, why not dream big! Pick up those dirty socks with some vision!
Although my cleanliness did improve when I set out on my own in college, I was not quite prepared to “care for the things of the world how I may please my wife.” The things my wife loved about me didn’t make up for the loathsome turn off of my messiness! It’s a lesson learned the hard way, but well worth the learning. Men – clean up your mess! You will find it quite rewarding in the end. (Get your mind out of the gutter!)
2. Clean up your wife’s mess (and your kids’ messes)!
If you want your wife to go above and beyond the call of duty in meeting your needs, then you need to go above and beyond the call of duty! When she’s not looking, clean those black marks off of the stove. My wife just loves that! (Although, I did have to take one of the grates off of the stove for her to notice it.)[i]
Actually, it was my mess on the stove. When cracking some egg shells on the frying pan, some of the egg whites leaked onto the stove. But the point is well-made. Cleaning up messes that she wouldn’t expect you to clean up has a dramatic affect on your wife’s libido!
When the kids make a mess of their room, preside over their cleaning it up. When they’ve spread their toys over the lawn or the driveway, gather them up. There are so many things your wife does that you may not notice. When you take it upon yourself to serve your wife by cleaning up messes as you find them, you are loving your wife as Christ loved the church.
Lead by service, as Jesus taught when he washed the feet of his disciples. Our church had a foot washing during our New Year’s Eve service. It is a strong illustration of Christ’s example to serve one another in love. (My seven-year-old son, after washing an elderly man’s feet, said, “Those sure were stinky feet, but I prayed for him real hard.”) Your wife may not need her feet washed, but she may need her car washed, the kitchen cleaned when she’s not feeling well, a thoughtful massage, or a manicure while you watch the kids. The greatest among us will be the servant of others.
3. Stop expecting sex after romantic words and intimate touch!
As an engaged man committing to save kissing and intimate touch for marriage, I was committed to letting my words of endearment to my fiancé be the culmination of all intimacy. I was committed to obey Christ first, and as long as I was remaining physically abstinent, words of affection came easy. They were pre-meditated and well-framed, letters were lengthy and flowery – all of it designed to show my soon-to-be-wife how much I loved and appreciated her. The aim was never sexual satisfaction, because we were waiting for marriage to kiss and have sex!
But as a married man, words of affection without sex do not come as naturally. After all, once you’ve been to the summit, why settle for lesser hills? But we men must remember that what was important to us when we were engaged, and what is not as important to us now, will always be important to our wives.
Women don’t warm to the idea that their husband is only smooth-talking them because he wants a sexual release. She doesn’t like to be treated like an outlet. She wants to be cherished and treated to romance without regard to whether her husband is personally gratified by the conclusion of the encounter.
I know that sometimes you won’t feel like it, men. But don’t you want your wife to have sex with you even if she doesn’t feel like it? Well, do unto others what you would have them do unto you. We have to do things we don’t feel like doing all the time. You have to just accept that you’re going to have to tell your wife how lovely she looks and the many ways that she is wonderful and irreplaceable without feeling like it. You may not feel like being romantic unless you have thoughts of sex; those thoughts energize your sexuality. But you have to try to be selfless. You’ve got to care for the things of the world how you may please your wife, not yourself. That takes practice to perfect. But it is an art that is well-worth the perfecting. Speak the words that melt her body, give her the touch she dreams of having, serve her needs in the way in which she does not expect, and do it all without any expectations of an exciting conclusion, and your wife will transform right before your eyes!
And if she’s the rare woman that doesn’t respond to such treatment, then at least you didn’t defy your expectations, for you weren’t doing it for yourself anyway, right? “As Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” Give yourself for her.
4. Turn off the TV, get off the computer, get out of that hunting stand, and read a story to the kids, then “whessle” with them.
Nothing provokes me to want to read to my kids more than my wife’s admonition, “It turns me on when you read to the kids!” This occasional reminder sets me on a marathon of book-reading unlike anything you’ve ever seen!
When my six-year-old begs with his characteristic lisp, “Let’s whessle!”, my wife settles down on the couch to watch with a huge smile on her face, as if she’s about to watch her favorite movie of all time!
There’s something ingrained within a woman’s psyche that prompts her to appreciate a man who enjoys his children. On Fridays, which is my day off work, I often take my seven kids to breakfast and let my wife sleep in. You would not believe the comments of admiration I receive from other women as they see me with my seven kids, eleven years and younger, at Bob Evans or at Wal-Mart. Women just love that!
You, my friend, can take advantage of that ingrained hard-wiring and make your wife hot about you! Wrestle with your kids or grandkids! Read them a story or make up one! Play with them in the yard! Have a checkers competition! Stop doing your own thing and enjoy your kids. They’re the only hobbies that you can take to heaven with you. They’ll enjoy you much more than anything you could ever buy them or give them – and your wife will enjoy that more than you know!
5. Have family devotions. Read the Bible, sing, and pray with them.
Even sinful women are attracted to men that are spiritual leaders. I have known sinful women who developed an admiration for their husband when they began to take the initiative and read the Bible to their children, or expressed a desire to pray with their wife. A man who disciples his kids fits the mold of a woman’s dreams just like a hand fits into a custom-sized glove. It’s just the way God designed it.
For so many years, I squandered our evenings doing my own thing. I tried to be the leader by leading poorly, spurning my wife’s prayers and petitions to have family devotions. Even if I was debating theology online, studying the Bible, writing articles, or reading books, I was still being a poor steward of my wife and children. Thanks to the influence of my good friend, Cal Zastrow, I repented of my selfishness and committed to disciple my wife and children. We still go through periods when we are so busy that our devotions lack, but for the most part, we have regular times where we sing, read the Bible, and get on our knees and pray together. This is the most important part of our day.
Your first obligation, my friend, is to your family. You are their pastor, their protector, their chief educator, and their provider. God has given you a great responsibility in the management of their souls. We must not be like the “unprofitable servant” who squandered that which God entrusted to him and was condemned for it.
I Timothy 5:8: “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
Being a hell-bound infidel’s bad enough, but to be worse than that is pretty horrible. If a man didn’t provide food or clothing for his wife and children, we’d all agree that the man is worse than an infidel! But what your children and your wife need more than food, more than shelter, and more than clothing, is the Word of God. You, my fellow father and husband, are obligated by God to teach it to them. According to Deuteronomy 6, it should be the most important thing you do all day long! You don’t have to be eloquent or a seminary graduate to teach God’s Word to your family.
The Bible says that a man is not fit to lead thechurch of God unless his house is in order. Regardless of how gifted a speaker he is, or how many souls get saved when he preaches, or how many miracles he can do in Jesus’ name, if his children are out of God’s order, he’s not fit to lead! Your home is your first priority to God!
The high priest Eli was removed from his position for the sins he tolerated in his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. When those boys later died for their sins, the Bible says in I Samuel 4 that Eli fell down, broke his neck, and died, and his daughter-in-law went into premature labor and delivered Ichabod, which is a name that means “the glory is departed.” Disciple your children, fathers, or you will grieve at the end of all your successes and your wife will pay homage to you with a posterity of Ichabods.
But if you disciple your children in the ways of the Lord, your wife will honor you for it. Don’t work and live for the entertainment of the weekend, my friend. Teach your children and your wife the Word of God – that is the most important and best part of your day! Live for that!
6. Keep your promises.
When you say, “Just a minute” don’t make it two. When you tell her you’ll fix something in the house by the weekend, it becomes the most important thing to do by the weekend. You can’t start a fire with wet wood. In the same way, you can’t kindle romance in your wife when you don’t keep your word.
The Bible says that a good name is better than great riches. When you don’t keep your word, your name loses its value. Jesus said, “Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.” That means when you say, “Yes I’ll do it today” then do it today! If you say, “No I won’t do that anymore” then don’t do it anymore! Keep your word! Your wife can’t appreciate you when you don’t keep your promises any more than a stock broker can appreciate a stock that’s dropped to zero. She might be intimate with you out of duty, just like she’ll cook the meals and do the dishes out of duty, and you might get your moment of ecstasy, but even animals can do that. Make her feel special by treating her with kindness and virtue, and your wet wood will soon dry out!
7. Don’t criticize her.
As a physician, I’ve seen some wives that desperately needed some pretty stern reproof. But it wasn’t in the best interests of the man or the marriage for the husband to be the one to give it to her. I consent to all the passages about rebuking and receiving rebuke, but let’s be real. If you want a wife who will melt in your arms and meet your needs with joy, then you have to cater to her ears. You can’t speak whatever words come into your mind. You have to bestow favor upon her with carefully crafted sentences. Try it, just for one week. Speak no criticizing words. Only praise. Only admiration. Only appreciation. Let her bad habits go unchecked and her criticism unrequited and you’ll find it a small price to pay for the hefty reward.
The Bible says that your words should minister grace to the hearer, and edify, or build them up. Some people cannot receive reproofs at certain times. It ministers nothing but grief to them. Or, perhaps they’re just not mature enough to receive it. There were times when Jesus was ministering that He told his listeners that they couldn’t handle what He was prepared to say. It’s okay to withhold reproof. You can give your reproof and correction to your wife, knowing it won’t be received, and you’ll ice your wife until she loathes the thought of you. Or, you can give her what she can handle and build her up with your words. The moment when your words meet her ears can be the best part of her day – or the worst. The choice is yours. If you speak praise and adoration, she may be more susceptible to your words of correction, and you may find yourself giving it more gently after she’s launched you into orbit with her sacrifice of praise!
Tell your wife’s that you love a picture she’s bought, and she just might buy a nice frame for it. Admire her, and she just might decorate.
8. Take care of your body!
Caring for the world that we may please our mate includes caring for that body that’s she’s going to be sleeping next to every night. One may not appreciate a beautiful, productive garden until they have one. In the same way, your wife may not appreciate a handsomely groomed man until she has one. If you were to ask a married woman if she would like to see her husband have a more attractive body, she would probably say “No” (unlike her husband). Nevertheless, if the man makes significant progress toward having a more slim and fit body, his wife’s appreciation may even take her by surprise! How a man looks says a lot about how he cares for his wife, for he is to cherish his wife as his own flesh.
Most people don’t realize it, but it is a scientific fact that being more than thirty pounds overweight shortens your life as much as smoking two packs a day! It shortens your life an average of seven years! Even just being ten pounds overweight shortens your life by as much as three years! Every pound you are over your ideal body weight increases your risk of diabetes by 3%. The risk of heart disease and even some types of cancers goes up with your weight.[ii] God wants you to be a good steward of the health God has given you, and you can’t do that if you’re obese. It shows a lack of self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit, and is a bad testimony.
When I was about ten years old, I drew a picture of Jesus on the cross. I was quite proud of it until my pastor told me that it was unbiblical.
“Why?” I asked.
"Because you made Jesus fat!”
Upon consideration, I guess I did draw Jesus a little wide in the mid-section. However, I protested, “How do you know that Jesus wasn’t overweight?” (I expected my pastor to succumb to this argument, given that he was a hundred pounds overweight.)
But he responded, “How could someone who fasted forty days be obese?”
Good point. Jesus taught that those who loved Him would fast. If you find a fat man, you find a man who either doesn’t love Christ, or who doesn’t have the fruit of the Spirit, or who for whatever reason looks like he doesn’t love Christ or doesn’t have the fruits of the Spirit. If you find a fat husband, you find someone who doesn’t sufficiently care for the things of the world how he may please his mate. If someone spurns the promptings of the Holy Spirit for the urges of the flesh, they show their first love.
Many of us need to repent of the lack of self-control that will shorten our lives and which has negatively affected our romance and intimacy with our mate. And don’t get all offended – you know I’m telling you the truth. Just bend over and take your spanking and make those changes you know you need to make. Get on a diet and exercise program, and for God’s sake, turn the light back on![iii]
9. Date night!
Get a babysitter. Find out what pleases your mate. Take her out to enjoy herself. Focus on her. Talk to her. Hold her hand and go for a walk. Make a tape of her favorite songs, dim the lights, and dance with her.
Oh, and take it from someone who learned the hard way, don’t take her out on a date in the canoe and make her row while you fish. (Or fish’ll be the only thing you catch.)
Many of you have read through my list of ways to bless your wife and thought that you could never love your wife in such a selfless way. If it is true that you can’t, then the God who created you wouldn’t have commanded it of you. You can because God commands you to, and if you don’t it is because you won’t, not because you can’t. The best thing you can do for your marriage is give your wife a holy husband who will love her selflessly. That begins when you repent of your sin. There’s no excuse for sin. There’s no excuse for abandoning our Creator for the lies of the devil.
In the Garden of Eden, the devil offered Adam another alternative. He offered him a counterfeit happiness. And he took it. And sin and death entered the world.
"The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
“He that soweth to the flesh shall reap corruption.” (Galatians 6:8)
“If you live after the flesh, ye shall die. But if you through the Spirit you do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.” (Romans 8)
"Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:28-30)
The church is full of unlacerated hands and unplucked eyes, unforsaken sin that’s been offered as an alternative to sex-less marriages. Don’t take of that forbidden fruit. The path of the adulteress leads to hell.
If there is sexual sin in your life, you must repent. Pluck out the eye if you must, if that’s the cost of avoiding hell. You must do whatever is necessary to forsake your sin and trust in Christ to be forgiven. Do it now!
1. Song of Solomon tape series, by Tommy Nelson
2. Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans
3. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
[i] When you clean the black spots off of the stove, do not, under any circumstance, use a drill bit or sandpaper. Any romantic inclination your wife will receive from your thoughtfulness and hard work will be dramatically undermined if you scrape the paint off the stove in the process.
[ii] To graph your weight and height to discover your ideal body weight, seewww.mayerhorensten.com/bodyMassIndex.php. Google “obesity” and “risk” and learn more about the health risk of being overweight.
[iii] http://exercise.about.com/cs/weightloss/a/howtoloseweight.htm. There are many other helpful websites on ways to lose weight, firm your abs, and transform your gluteus maximus to gluteus minimus!