If you’ve read Wife School, you are familiar with the drumbeat in that book that encourages you as a wife to focus on “what you give and how you love” (not on “how you are loved or how you are given to”). But of course, there are things in your marriage that are important to you and women need to know how to wisely ask for those things. (This is the third blog in a three part series. Please read “How to Keep Affection High in Your Marriage” and also, “How to Get the Romance and Emotional Intimacy You Want in Your Marriage” before reading this. I am assuming you have read those two prior blogs as they lay foundational thought for this blog.)
As we have discussed, most men are satisfied in marriage if there is not too much emotional turmoil and they get enough sex, but women want the moon. I have previously discussed that men get very weary when their wives are discontent—when wives constantly want something different from what they now have. A wife who is always badgering her husband to change in some way (to do more for her, to give more to her) will rob her husband’s affection for her.
Therefore, women need to be intentional in what they ask for. I advise women to make a secret list of everything they want from their husbands (that he is not giving them) and then, only ask for the item or two on the top of the list (again, this is AFTER you are filling his tank with the 8 A’s). You can’t ask him to help more around the house, to quit wiping his nose with this sleeve, to spend more time with the children, to listen to you without watching Sports Center, and to quit buying expensive tools and gadgets with the money you have earmarked for a family vacation—all at the same time. Women wear men out with all these multiple “suggestions” and “corrections”. Make your list. Prioritize it. Ask for the top one or two things. (You’re in this marriage for fifty years. You’ve got time to ask for it all; just not all at once.)
This next point should be easy to understand but I messed up in this area early in my marriage, so I will list it here. Don’t ask for things that aren’t truly important. Big deal if he doesn’t plant the flowers exactly right. Big deal if he doesn’t put the pajamas on the baby exactly the way that you do it. Big deal if he didn’t tell the story exactly right to your family. You use up your “asking points” on this minutia! Ridiculous.
When you are ready to tell your husband your number one thing you want from him, don’t get all emotional. Don’t say, “You disappoint me so much here! This isn’t what I wanted in a marriage!!” Men wish they could push “re-wind” on the marriage vows when women act like that.
And don’t drop hints about how well other men do “whatever it is you want”. Don’t say, “Jack took his whole family to the coast for a week for vacation.”
The BEST way to tell your husband what you want is to catch him doing it right and then praising him. Let’s say your problem is that your husband spends too much money on himself, buying the latest tech toys, fancy cars, nice clothes, etc. When you see your husband not spend money, you praise him. “Thanks for not buying that, Honey. I know you really want that and it’s a sacrifice for you to not have it. What an awesome husband you are to be so unselfish and think about the family and our financial needs. It makes me feel loved and cared for when you sacrifice like this for our family.” Often, a wife will never have to directly tell him what he does wrong or what she wants but by praising him when he gets it right, she is teaching him. What a wise wife! How men appreciate women that protect their egos.
Sometimes, however, there is no other way to tell him except to tell him. But pick a good time and sandwich it with all the good he does. You might say, “Honey, I so appreciate how you do x and y and z. I hate to bother you with things I want, and of course, I realize you have the right to say no, but this would make me so happy. There is something that is very important to me that I’d like to ask you about. I like making you happy and I was hoping you’d listen to my request.”
Then tell him sweetly. If you tell him, and he says, “That’s stupid,” don’t go into a meltdown. A lot of men need lots of time to adjust to new ideas. In fact, expect him to react negatively. Don’t let it faze you. If he is not receptive, you say, “Well, I’d still like you to think about it and consider it. It would make me so happy.” Believe me, if you are living Wife School principles, he will think about it and he will consider it.
A woman who is massively depositing the 8 A’s WILL BE HEARD… but maybe not right away. Men want to please their wives. They enjoy pleasing their wives. But since husbands are humans, they have a hard time changing. So, expect him not to get it right away. That’s right. Expect to have to mention it again and again, but space these requests out. Don’t become a clanging cymbal.
If your husband does anything positive in the direction of what you asked, praise him. And praise him again. Let’s say you want him to spend more time with the children. When he throws little Johnny up in the air, you say, “Did you hear Johnny squeal? It made him so happy. And it made ME very happy. I love it when you pay attention to the children.” And maybe later, you could say, “I am still happy thinking about watching you play with Johnny.” Wise women learn to praise what they want repeated.
And remember, there is a tendency for everyone in a marriage to not give “The One Thing”. “The One Thing” is that thing that the other spouse really wants. For years, when my husband worked for a non-profit Christian organization and the money was tight, my husband was upset that I did not stay on the budget. Finally, we worked this out. (Well, honestly, he had to mention some inappropriate spending on my part last week, so I take that back.) But I wonder how much affection he lost for me during that time. This is normal in all marriages to have “The One Thing”. (What is “The One Thing” that you don’t give your husband? Ask him one day, when you have a lot of courage.)
Again, this is the man you were given to love and you’re on the 50 year plan. I don’t want to promise things, but honestly, when wives are adorable and focus this hard on making their husbands happy by making huge 8 A’s deposits, I have never seen a husband NOT respond. (I’m sure there are some stone-hearted/mentally unhealthy men out there, but I am just saying, I have not seen them not respond to soft, meek, humble, serving, happy, persistent wives who are trying to make their husbands happy. Men soften to sweet wives who meet their needs, although it may take years. PERSEVERE!!!)
And for some advanced training in explaining things to your husband, re-read Chapter 13 in Wife School on “word pictures”. You can’t use “word pictures” too often or it gets annoying. But wow, what a powerful way to explain to your husband something you are feeling or thinking when nothing else seems to be working.
The best Bible teaching on asking your husband for something is in the book of Esther. Notice how she wisely used prayer, fasting, timing (after two banquets), and good food (Esther was no dummy).
And lastly, and most importantly, remember that “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Pray that God will open the eyes of your husband’s heart.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue”, so learn to be wise when asking your husband for what you want. Blessings to you and your desire for a happy, godly home!