Tis the season for hustle and bustle, trees, carols, baby Jesus in mangers, lights, parties, Hanukkah menorahs, cookies, lots more cookies…
Aaaaand of course gifts.
We spend countless hours planning and seeking out those perfect gifts –the ones that perfectly epitomize our love for those special people in our lives and elicit reactions of pure, unadulterated joy.
For those of us with struggling marriages, we cling desperately to the lingering hope that during this beautiful season of renewal, somehow the right gift will rejuvenate our fading love and breathe new life into our dying marriages. We yearn for the shiny, cheerful paper and carefully arranged bows to alleviate the months of pain, angry words, and growing distance that has slowly worked its way between us and our spouses. We spend thousands of dollars in a last desperate attempt to restore love gone cold. And perhaps for a brief, glittering moment, it even appears to ring successful…
But when the wrapping paper has been recycled, the food eaten, and the lights and trees stored away for another season, the stuff that came out of those meticulously decorated boxes is just that…stuff.
We stick the gifts on a top shelf to collect dust and go back to the mundane reality of our daily lives, watching sadly while whatever temporary moments of joy we purchased fade away like a dying candle. When it’s all said and done, our relationships are still strained, our lives still chaos, and our marriages still on the brink of collapse.
Because stuff, no matter how expensive, amazing, or well-thought, doesn’t save marriages.
This year it’s time to think outside the gift-wrapped box. It’s time to give your husband the presents he wants more than books, tools, sports equipment, cars, expensive electronics, or anything else you can fit in a box or top with a bow.
In fact, it’s time to give him the four gifts he most desires – the ones he needs.
Giving your husband these four gifts can rekindle the love between you and help save your struggling marriage.
1: Respect. This is a deeply rooted need for every single man. He desperately desires for his wife to verbally express that she is proud of him. He needs her to speak in a respectful way about him on social media and in public – to him and about him – including to your children, family, and to friends. There is no quicker way to shut down your husband and create marital tension than to publicly question his manliness (yes, even in jest!) and no quicker way to create unity and love than by publicly showing him the respect he so desperately desires. A man who feels disrespected by his wife is a man who will turn bitter and cold. A man who feels respected by his wife, however, is a man who can conquer the world and then some.
2. Some slack.I know this comes as a huge surprise, but your husband isn’t perfect. Yep, that’s right. He is messed up, flawed, imperfect – just like you! He is a human being with the inborn potential for human error, selfishness, anger, pride. Demanding perfection is not only unrealistic, it’s setting your husband (and your marriage) up for failure. Giving him the grace to fall every once in a while and the assurance that you will still love and support him despite his occasional shortcomings will fill him with the confidence he needs to try new things and love you better without the pressure of constant criticism. Is he perfect? No. But he is perfectly yours.
3. Prayer. We so often neglect this incredibly important foundation of our marriages. Does it work? I absolutely believe it does when done regularly, specifically, sincerely. It is hard to hate someone for whom you are earnestly praying. It is hard to remain angry at someone for their transgressions when we remember how much grace we have received regarding our own. Whether you write out your own or use a guide such as the Just Winging It books, making prayer a daily habit will have profound effects on your marriage.
4. Sexual intimacy. Men are created as physical beings. There’s just no getting around this fact. However, sex is more than a mere physical act for your husband, it is the ultimate expression of your love for him. He needs his wife not only to have sex with them but to desire and pursue him. He doesn’t want you to begrudgingly submit but to willingly initiate and invest in intimacy with him. Being intentional in your efforts to fulfill your husband’s sexual needs will quickly transform your marriage from the inside out.
Giving your husband these four precious gifts will not be easy if you have not done it consistently in the past. It will take resolve and intentionalality, especially if your marriage is struggling and there is a growing distance between you. However, working diligently to give your husband the gifts of respect, some slack, regular prayer, and sexual intimacy will change your marriage in ways that you never imagined. Change does not happen overnight. It will take time, persistence, and patience for him to realize it is real, that you mean business, but once he does, he will be a whole new man, and you will have a whole new marriage.
This year, think outside the shiny paper and ribboned encircled box. While those gifts are thoughtful and kind, they are temporary fixes to deeper problems. This year, give your husband the four gifts he desires most and breathe new life into your dying marriage, rekindling the flickering flames of your love.
Remember, a man who feels well loved by his wife will be a man who is much more likely to love his wife well.
I love you, aviation family.
Angelia (a fellow pilot wife)
Just Winging It: Prayers for My Pilot Wife (autographed)
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