By Chris Brown
My wife, Holly, and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage soon. Thankfully, I know a little bit more about how to be a good husband than when we first walked down that maroon-carpeted aisle.
Back in the early days, I thought the words, "I love you" were the only words needed for a thriving marriage. So I said them a lot. Over time, though, I began to expand my marriage vocabulary.
I still say, “I love you, Holly” every single day.
But I’ve added a few more key phrases, too. When I say these things, I see the smile in her heart and the relief in her eyes. I know what she needs to hear to feel safe, cherished, and appreciated.
These are the top four phrases a husband can say to his wife to put action behind the words, "I love you."
1. "I thought about you today."
Your spouse wants to know that even in the middle of a stressful day at the office, during a business lunch, or on your way to meet with a client, she crossed your mind.
Sometimes it’s as simple as, "We had Chipotle for lunch and it made me think of you, because I know how much you love that place." Or, "We were in a meeting today talking about where the company needs help. I was sitting there thinking ‘Holly would know exactly what to do.’"
Letting your wife know you’re thinking about her is an easy way to communicate that she’s cherished. Not to mention the fact that, when it comes to Holly, the schoolboy part of me likes when she’s in the middle of my world.
2. "Let me watch the kids tonight. You deserve a break."
In two short sentences, you accomplish two big things. You give your wife valuable and much-needed time to herself. And you show her you respect what she does for your family.
Moms have a tough job—whether they work in the home or outside of the home. My wife is an awesome mom and she deserves my appreciation and hands-on help to lighten her load.
When I say “take a break” it lets Holly know we are a team. It is not me out there and her in here. It’s us. It’s always us. And we both need breaks.
Her night off doesn’t have to be extravagant. I take the kids to the pool after work, or send her to get her nails done while I fix PB&J sandwiches for movie night.
Giving your wife some time alone will allow her to re-energize. Often, this puts Holly in a new space mentally and she comes home an even better mom and wife all because I put a little action behind my appreciation.
3. "Can I pray for you about that?"
We’ve all heard that our wives want a listener, not a fixer. But beyond this, I also believe our wives want a leader.
Holly is a pretty strong lady. She’s independent and disciplined. That’s why it always surprises me that one of her greatest desires is for me to lead our family.
She wants me to challenge her, and to push our family to new places spiritually, professionally, and purposefully. My wife feel safe and secure in our marriage when she knows that I am fulfilling my role as our spiritual leader.
If your wife is overwhelmed by something, listen to her. Then, when she‘s done talking it through ask if you can pray for her. You might be shocked by the level of respect, trust and love that blossoms out of her heart for you. Don't be shy. Step in and lead your wife in this area. You may feel awkward and hesitant at first, but trust me, she won't care. And you'll get better at it with time.
4. "I’m turning off my phone and computer for the night."
Woah. This one will blow your wife away. Shutting down my access to the outside world tells Holly this evening is about us, our kids, our issues, our conversations, our laughter. I'm not sharing what we share in the house tonight with anyone else. I'm not looking for good material or a great picture. I just want us to be us.
No one can interrupt. My eyes will be on the person speaking or the task at hand for the rest of the night.
This kind of focus is almost unheard of, but it’s a must in today's world. Try to do this one night a week. Drop the distractions and make your family the main attraction. Watch how this small sacrifice will change your marriage.
These four small phrases revolutionized our relationship. It seems like, in marriage, the small things are the big things. Being intentional in the small things makes a path for big love. Small steps of loyalty and concern lead to lifelong commitment. Sweat the small stuff. It really does matter.
A dynamic pastor and speaker, Chris Brown joined the Dave Ramsey team in 2014 to carry the message of stewardship and intentional living to churches nationwide. Chris began his ministry in the trenches as a campus pastor, before using his previous business and real estate training to tackle numerous executive-level pastoral duties. Prior to joining the Ramsey organization Chris spent seven years leading people to Christ while growing churches in North Carolina and Florida. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @TrueStewardship or online at www.stewardship.com.
Publication date: April 13, 2015