“Have you ever tried hugging someone who was trying to kill you?!” This phrase is one of my favorite moments from the TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond. Debra, who was struggling with her monthly visitor, was educating (i.e., fighting with) her husband about how he should treat her during her special time of the month. In her hormonally driven rage, she screamed, “Have you ever thought of hugging me, you jerk?!” to which he replied, “Have you ever tried hugging someone who was trying to kill you?!”
Loving a woman well seems impossible at times, guys. I admit, it is not always easy to love us when we are grumpy, edgy, and emotional. We are quick to say, “You have to love us no matter what!” And, then we turn around and tell you that you have to earn our respect. On behalf of women everywhere, we apologize for this crazy double standard. We are not always lovable creatures – and we appreciate you loving us anyway. We are more desperate for your love than we want to admit.
Last week, we gave the ladies some tips on how to show respect to their boyfriends and husbands. This week, we are back with twenty ways to communicate love to your woman. Here you go!
- Prioritize her. As the saying goes, kids spell love T-I-M-E; and, so does the lady in your life. Even if quality time is not her love language, she appreciates your attempts to prioritize her needs and desires above your work, friends, and recreation. If you cannot find enough hours in the day to be there for her, her radar will certainly go up when you rearrange your schedule to accommodate other interests – e.g., sporting events, gaming, time with friends, etc.
- Lead Her. Do not drag her. Refuse to touch her forcefully. Resist the urge to be condescending, even when you are sure your way is better. Lead her with your confidence, your willingness to stand between her and harm’s way, and be her man – not her boy. Take responsibility, do not leave every decision to her, and show her you are someone she can trust to make mature choices.
- Be careful what you put in front of your eyes. Even if your woman never finds out, your use of pornography will have negative consequences for your relationship because it will change you. Have you ever met a man who has not, at one time or another, struggled with pornography or impure thoughts? Neither have I. It truly is every man’s battle; and, while your struggle likely has little or nothing to do with your relationship, knowing you are gazing upon other women to become physically gratified is heartbreaking and humiliating to your lady. Remember I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (ESV) Though the temptation to view inappropriate material is great, God is greater, and He has promised to help you escape if you wish to escape.
- Pursue her. Chase her. Try to win her heart consistently, even if you believe or know you already have it. Dating after marriage is even more important than dating before marriage. Men are built to conquer and, while that works out great in courtship, many men turn their energy to other pursuits after they have the girl. Though it may feel malicious, it typically is not. Men are wired to go after what they do not have – and it does not make sense to chase after something already sitting in their living rooms. What women everywhere want their men to understand is this: you may have our hearts today, but if you ignore us and cease to pursue and protect our hearts, you can easily lose us – maybe not physically, but most definitely emotionally. If you lose your woman’s heart, what do you have?
- “Thank you for…” Gratitude is a universal message of love or respect. Taking a moment to verbally appreciate all the good your woman brings into your life will encourage her immensely.
- Apologize to her. One of the toughest battles Eric and I fight within our marriage is with our pride. Saying “I’m sorry” when I believe he is more at fault than I am is tough. When Eric lays down his pride and says, “I am sorry for….” my heart swells with warmth and respect. Even if your lady comes to you with a grievance you do not believe is completely fair, you can almost always find something true in her statements (and vice versa, ladies). Be quick to ask for forgiveness and gentle when defending yourself. When possible, it is better to apologize first and defend (if necessary – and often it is not) in a separate conversation. A defense immediately following an apology negates the apology.
- Clean yourself up! Maybe you are not offended by your smell on a humid summer day after twelve hours in the hot sun, but others probably are – most of all… your woman. She wants to be close to you, but her nose simply will not allow her to snuggle up to you. We know you are dog tired, but a quick shower and shave tells your woman you care about her needs even after working hard all day. We ladies love a good smelling It is a fact! A little soap, water, and deodorant go a long way!
- Make an effort to love who she loves. When you visit her parents, attempt to connect with them. Spend time with her friends. Play with her nieces and nephews. Involve yourself in her circles, at least part of the time (as it is good to maintain some personal hobbies), and resist the urge to choose your devices over time with her loved ones. If you and she get married, these folks will be in your life for many years. Know them. Embrace them. Love them.
- Listen to her… with your face. It does not matter how many times Eric says, “I’m listening!” If he is looking at his iPad while I am sharing my heart with him, he might as well be saying, “I’m listening, but I just don’t care what you are saying.” If your lady requests your undivided attention, it is in the best interest of your relationship to turn towards her and focus on her. If you need a few minutes to finish up your task, let her know, and then focus on her completely. (And, ladies, we need to respect their need to complete their train of thought or task which they are currently doing before expecting attention.)
- Be honest with her. Some comedians like to joke about honesty in marriage. According to them, men everywhere should lie their way to a happy marriage. Such a philosophy may get laughs, but it is a harmful and unloving way to live with your woman. Though it is unwise to blurt out every waking thought you have, it is loving and kind to be honest with your sweetie. When Eric and I were first married, I was used to southern charm – and I expected it. However, I soon found out Eric does not possess the inherent Southern politeness gene; rather, he is blunt and honest. If I ask him a question, he always gives me a truthful response (and seasons it with tact whenever possible). At first, I was taken aback by his forthrightness, but as time went on, I began to value his honesty. He loved me enough to tell me if my hair needed some extra attention, if my top clashed with my pants, or if my term paper needed some extra proofing. Since he has built a foundation of honesty with me, I know I can trust him – and when he says, “You look great!” I know he means it. ~smile~
- Be gentle with her. Snuggle her, play with her hair, and treat her like she is extremely valuable to you. Using the same words, Eric can communicate love or annoyance all in the tone of voice he uses.
- Show her you think she is beautiful. A woman loves to hear her man tell her she is beautiful, even if she resists the compliment; but, a woman needs to see evidence that her man thinks she is beautiful. Eric can affirm my physical appearance every day, but if he rarely looks at me, how am I to believe him? You can show your woman you think she is beautiful by not allowing your eyes to linger on other attractive women and by looking at her intently when she is talking. You can communicate your feelings by looking at her with adoration, the way you did when you first fell for her. You can compliment her clothing choices, hair, and makeup before she asks for your opinion. We know you guys cannot interact with us this way every hour of the day; however, it means a lot to us when you find creative ways to say “you are so beautiful to me.” Add some sugar to your weekly routine, and it will fill your lady’s heart to the brim. Also, remember her beauty goes much deeper than her face, so you have a lot to work with if you look deep enough.
- Hold her hand. Especially in public. Show her you are proud to be with her and to be seen with her.
- Support her in front of others. When you are out with friends, find something supportive to say to or about your lady. Calmly defend her if you witness a confrontation. Show her and others that if they treat her unjustly, they will have to deal with you. Even the strongest woman appreciates her man having her back.
- Resist the urge to become defensive. Male and female relationships can be complicated because we communicate so differently. What a man means as a matter-of-fact, helpful statement can easily come across as an unloving, harsh jab to a woman; and, what a woman means as, a harmless observation can often be received as a disrespectful criticism by a man. If your girlfriend or wife tells you something she wants you to change about yourself, take a breath – even if the idea seems outlandish, unfair, or completely idiotic to you. If you are not able to discuss it at the moment, that is fine. Let her know you need to think about what she said and step away. If you need her to explain herself further, calmly ask; and, after reflecting, if you find some merit in what she has requested, attempt to make one or two small changes. Treating her concerns with respect most definitely communicates love – and makes her want to show you more respect.
- Put away your man card. Yes, you are the man. Indeed, the Bible does tell wives to respect their husbands. Whether you are married or dating, you may feel compelled to remind her that you are the man in the relationship. She already knows. Reminding her of this fact does not inspire her to respect you more. Good leaders do not run around saying, “I am the leader! I am the leader!” Keeping a cool head, listening to her words, and remaining steadfast to your beliefs will get you a lot farther than lecturing her on Biblical gender roles. Be the man God calls you to be.
- Find different ways to say, “Calm down,” and “You are irrational.” She may know she needs to calm down. She may even know she is behaving irrationally. What she needs is support – to know you can handle the occasional crazy. A woman’s mind is a busy and often overwhelming place with dozens of thoughts zooming around at any given time. When we react outwardly to a sea of internal stress, the last response we need is, “Calm down” or “What is your problem?!” What we long to hear in those moments (even if our porcupine exterior does not let on) is, “How can I help?” or “It makes me sad to see you struggling.” About five years ago, I had an emotional breakdown. I slammed the refrigerator door and magnets flew everywhere. What I expected was an immediate lecture from Eric about my behavior and attitude, but instead he quietly bent over and started picking up the magnets. Sometimes saying nothing but showing patience and support is the best response. Instead of fanning the flames with a condescending comment, he put out the fire and eased my pain with calm and gentle strength.
- Take up for her. Protect her. If someone speaks harshly to her, says something unkind, or embarrasses her, calmly but firmly speak up for her. Let her know you have her back and you will not stand for someone hurting her emotionally or otherwise. When a man takes up for his woman, she feels even more secure that he will protect her physical safety should tense circumstances arise.
- Go shopping. Take a deep breath. You do not have to break your piggy bank (just yet). We ladies love knowing that you guys think about us when we are not around; and, it does not have to cost much to sprinkle some gifts into the mix. Something as simple as a dessert from her favorite restaurant, a small souvenir from a business trip, or a random bouquet of flowers on a Wednesday afternoon says: I am thinking about you when I do not have to – which translates to a woman’s heart: I love you so stinkin’ much.
- Go out of your way to understand her. “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (I Peter 3:7, ESV). Sometimes, your woman will not make sense to you. Her way of looking at the world and her decisions will baffle you – that is okay. You may never be an expert in your sweetheart’s language, but you can make consistent strides to understand her better. Eric’s attempts to understand me warm my heart and make me feel like I am important to him.
Have you ever taken the time to ask your wife or girlfriend, “When do you feel the most loved?” If not, I challenge you to ask her this week. You may be amazed by what she says! When Eric and I are at odds with each other, it annoys me how deeply I need his love; but, regardless of the circumstances, I need him to love me. Sometimes I want to say, “I don’t need you,” and mean it, but I do – I do need his love.
You can make such a difference in your sweetheart’s life by choosing to show her affection regardless of how much she deserves it, or how much respect she has shown you. Your unconditional love might just change her life.
How do you show your girlfriend or wife love?