Mike Berry offers husbands hard-won advice that has kept his marriage thriving.
I was attending a wedding recently when one of the vows, “I promise to honor you,” had me thinking. After all these years (almost 16), do I still honor my wife like I did in the beginning? What does it really mean to “honor” her? How can I improve this in my marriage?
Forgive me! This is the way a writer and creative thinker attends a wedding celebration!
Most of us men, if asked on the spot, probably couldn’t repeat our entire vows verbatim, especially if we’ve been married for a long time. We may be able to repeat some of them, or borrow a few from some recent weddings we’ve attended, but the entire vows? Probably not.
That’s normal. I can remember the last words I said in mine: “As God is my witness, I give you my promise.” That statement will forever be etched in my brain. I did give her my promise on that warm afternoon, 16 years ago, and I will never go back on it.
As I watched this new couple look into one another’s eyes, that line, “Will you honor her?” got me! That’s a biggie. And much like the rest of their vows, it’s one that tends to get lost as the years pass, personal storms arise, or trials invade the home.
Husbands, here’s the big question you must ask yourself. Will you honor her? I’ve got three fingers pointing back at me as I ask this of you. If you find yourself hanging your head because you’ve lost sight, or you’re simply trying to figure out how in the world you do this, let me ease your worries—you’re not alone! We husbands tend to row in the same boat often. Marriage is a forever-long growth process. I’m growing, you’re growing, every guy who took the vow is growing! I met a man recently who’s been married 60 years. Sixty! And he admits he’s still got a lot of work to do and still fails often at this whole married thing.
That brought me a lot of comfort. But it also left me questioning. Where do we begin? How do you start honoring the love of your life if you’ve lost sight of what that means in your marriage? How do you continue to improve the ways you honor your partner if you’ve actually been OK at doing this over the years? For me, it begins with five simple, powerful steps …
I think honor begins when we choose to serve. In one of my former posts, Sex Starts In The Morning, I talked about the power of servanthood in a marriage. I believe in this big time. If you want success in your marriage, choose to put your wife’s needs above your own, always! (As she should also do with yours.) Choose to serve her. Nothing spells “honor” greater than servanthood.
Guys, lets be honest—we have a listening problem … most of the time. Factor in a game on TV, or our ultra-distracting iPhones, and we go completely dark. Our wives want to be heard. They want to know we are listening. Most of us have spent all day working amongst other adults, and many of our wives have, too. But if your bride stays at home with your children, she has not had the same interaction with adults as you have.
Put down the phone, turn off the TV, and listen.
You and I can listen, and still not be engaged. Did you know this? There’s a difference. I can hear my wife’s words and still remain uninvolved or disconnected. It’s an ongoing struggle for me.
Engagement is participation in the conversation. Nodding and saying “uh-huh,” doesn’t cut it. This is not true interaction fellas! I can call you out on this one because I’ve been guilty far too often of doing the same thing. Try this: along with your “uh-huhs” and nods, repeat what she’s saying to you so she knows she is being understood. This will force you to understand it and engage with her.
Chances are, one of the reasons she married you was that she knew you would fight for her, and stand with her, through life’s biggest battles. Somewhere in your vows, that was present. That whole “knight in shining armor” thing? It’s real! She needs a version of that, just as you need her to be strong for you and supportive in other ways. She needs a soldier who will fight for her, honor her, and stand next to her when she’s down for the count. Whether in the home or the workplace outside of the home, society pulls no punches in degrading and lowering the value of women. Be her buffer, her source of strength, her champion. And she’ll be yours.
It’s not that she can’t defend herself. She can. But it’s harder—and lonelier—to do it alone. So be ready to take her side, to stand by her side and defend her.
I’m not talking about excessive public displays of affection, like you see between love-struck couples in a mall or a park. None of us really wants to see that. What I’m talking about is actions that demonstrate the love you have for her. Hold her hand when you walk together. Make sure your children see you hug and kiss her all the time. Make sure they know that she is forever your bride and forever your love. True love is built on investment, not affection. Affection is a dividend.
How you treat your partner will affect how your children love their future spouses. Your kids will seek out partners based on what they see in you (Yikes, pressure’s on!) and follow the dynamics and patterns that you model and exemplify in your own relationship. If honor forms the core of your marriage, it will form the core of theirs, too.
So, it is a big question: “Will you honor her?” Sometimes, life gets in the way and we lose sight. Don’t beat yourself up if that’s you. Pick yourself up, fail forward, and start over. That’s what life is all about—do overs! If you need a road map, I’ve personally found the 5 ways I just shared to be a great starting point. They’ve helped me tremendously. And they can help you, too.
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