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Marriage
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Communicating for a Better Marriage: Part 2 - Husbands and Love Talk

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In part 1, we acknowledged the different communication styles men and women have because of how they were uniquely created. Not wrong, but definitely different! Then we focused on the wives and how they could incorporate the six concepts of C.H.A.I.R.S.—Conquest, Hierarchy, Authority, Insight, Relationship, and Sexuality—into their communication with their husband, learning to speak his language of Respect Talk. In return, I believe the goodwilled wife who consistently and genuinely makes these attempts to touch her husband at the core of who he is as a man will energize him to talk to her more.

Guys, now it’s your turn!

Every wife I have met (given she is in love with her husband) would agree that she feels most energized in her marriage when her husband seeks to be close with her, open with her, understanding of her, peacemaking with her, loyal to her, and esteeming of her. I refer to these as C.O.U.P.L.E. Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty, and Esteem. Any conversation around how he can improve in any of these dimensions will be welcomed by her second to none.   

If a husband wishes to know what issues pulsate in his wife’s heart as preeminent, there is no list that can improve on the following. I invite every husband to read through these slowly and to ask himself if his wife would respond to these. I predict he will recognize that she'd greet most of these with open arms.   

Of course, no husband will do all of these, nor do any of these entirely or always to her satisfaction. But if we have no target in front of us as husbands, we will have no aim. We will be like a sailor in the middle of the sea without a rudder. But when we know the target and are not rudderless, we can make it to shore. The following information, listed in my book Love & Respect, takes you to the shore of your wife's heart.    

Closeness  

  • You are conscious of God's call to leave father and mother and cleave to your wife.  
  • You are aware that cleaving is more than sex but an emotional, face-to-face closeness.  
  • You are affectionate (hug her, hold her hand, etc.) without sexual intentions.  
  • You go for a walk or jog . . . anything that results in togetherness.  
  • You make it a priority to spend time with her.  
  • You seek her out . . . set up a date night . . . eat by candlelight.  
  • You let her know you enjoy discussing things with her and getting her insights.  
  • After lovemaking, you lie close with your arm around her and share feelings.  
  • You are with her alone so you can focus on each other and laugh together.  

 Openness  

  • You take steps when upset to prevent yourself from closing off to her in anger.  
  • You can say, "I am not embittered against my wife."  
  • You give her a report when she asks about your day and difficulties.  
  • You are not fearful to ask her opinion and what she thinks and feels.  
  • Your face shows you are open to talking—relaxed body language, good eye contact.  
  • You pray with her about issues that matter to both of you.  
  • You give her your full attention when talking about issues deep in her heart.  
  • You include her on serious concerns that affect your future together.  

Understanding  

  • You understand and accept God created her as a woman and different from you.  
  • You listen and can repeat back what she said.  
  • You avoid trying to “fix her problems” unless she specifically asks for a solution.  
  • You avoid dismissing her feelings, no matter how illogical they might seem.  
  • You avoid interrupting her when she’s trying to tell you how she feels.  
  • You cut her some slack during her monthly cycle.  
  • You see something that needs to be done and do it without a lot of hassle.  
  • You express appreciation for all she does: “Honey, I could never do your job.”  

Peacemaking  

  • You believe before God you are to be one with your wife and do nothing to divide you.  
  • You let her vent her frustrations and hurts and don’t get angry and close her off.  
  • You admit you are wrong and apologize, saying, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”  
  • You understand her natural desire to negotiate and you meet her halfway.  
  • You keep your relationship updated, resolving issues and not saying “Forget it!”  
  • You forgive her for any wrongs she confesses.  
  • You avoid nursing bitterness and reassure her of your love.  
  • You pray with her after a hurtful time.  

Loyalty  

  • You have made a covenant with her and with God to be faithful in the marriage.  
  • You speak highly of her in front of others.  
  • You avoid criticizing or correcting her in front of the children or others.  
  • You avoid looking lustfully at other women.  
  • You include her in social gatherings when others may leave their spouse at home.  
  • You call and let her know your plans.  
  • You keep your commitments.  
  • You are involved in things important to her.  

 Esteem  

  • You honor her as an equal with you before God.  
  • You give her encouragement and praise with kindness and enthusiasm.  
  • You open the door for her.  
  • You notice something different about her hair or clothes.  
  • You are physically affectionate with her in public.  
  • You value her opinion in the gray areas as not wrong but just different and valid.  
  • You choose family outings over “guy things.”  
  • You make her feel first in importance.  

Just as I encouraged the wives with speaking Respect Talk, these concepts are not something to be tackled overnight. Learning Love Talk is going to be more difficult than learning Spanish in high school, guys! This is definitely going to be a long-term commitment. ¿Comprenden?

And even if she hasn’t been making the attempt to energize you with Respect Talk, you are to still make every attempt to touch your wife at the core of her heart with Love Talk. One is not conditional on the other. A husband is to love his wife (including with Love Talk) regardless, as unto Christ; just as a wife is to respect her husband (including with Respect Talk) regardless, as unto Christ.

But again, if you believe in your spouse’s goodwill, as I do, then you can be confident that when you genuinely and consistently speak your spouse’s language, you are very likely to soon see their attempt to speak your language as well.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. When was a time when you felt the most connected to your spouse? How did communication play a role in that connection? Would your spouse agree? How do you know?
  2. Have you noticed the communication differences between your spouse and your same-sex friends? Have you ever imposed judgment on your spouse for his or her differences? How so?
  3. Emerson wrote that most of the women he has met have said they feel most energized in their marriage when their husband seeks to be close with her, open with her, understanding of her, peacemaking with her, loyal to her, and esteeming of her. Has this shown true in your marriage?
  4. Husbands, what is one suggestion from each of the six concepts above that you can begin trying this week?