I wrote this letter for my sister Esther, and read it at her bridal shower yesterday. She gave me permission to publish it here!
December 11th, 2010
In October, you asked me what advice I could give you on how to be a good wife. I didn’t answer then, because I had no idea what to say! That, and Derek and Ben got to talking about husband stuff, and we stopped to haul that big red door into the truck.
I still didn’t know what to tell you, so I went to a man. I asked Derek. “If you were still looking for a wife, what one quality would you look for? What would a guy appreciate in a woman?”
His first response was very guyish, so I’ll skip that one. But you already know how important that “fun” side of marriage is! Keep it up, even when you don’t feel like it, and you’ll have a good marriage. It’s how Ben is hardwired to show his love for you!
Derek’s next response was “stand by him.” Loyalty. Choose Ben over everyone else! When his boss is a jerk, and his father-in-law just said something to annoy him, stand by Ben. Pick Ben over your mom or your sisters. Loyalty is easy when you and your husband stand on the same side of an issue, but stand by Ben even when you feel like fighting him. I guarantee he’ll notice your loyalty, even if he doesn’t say anything. He’ll be able to fight the world off with a woman like you! Prove your loyalty now, when you have your newlywed spats. Because no matter how many books you read, front porch talks you have, or marriage counseling sessions you go to, you will fight! You’re a sinner, he’s a sinner, and you sinners are going to knock heads.
Honor him. (Derek couldn’t pin-point just one quality. Men want it all!) Admire and praise Ben every chance you get. Even cheesy stuff like, “Oooo, honey, you have such big strong muscles!” when he opens the pickle jar for you. (You’ll be eating pickles soon, right? And yeah, you have to pretend you can’t do it yourself.) Stroke his ego! It’s okay! Flattery in a marriage is just healthy flirting. Make him feel like a man.
Don’t compare! Contentment. You guys are just starting out, so it might seem like everyone else has more. Of everything. Again, stand by your man! Tell Ben it’s okay that there isn’t extra money for a vacation, and it’s okay if you’re still in a tiny apartment. It’s okay if you have to use hand-me-down furniture, and it’s okay if “out to eat” means Taco Bell. I’m pretty sure you’d be okay with any of this, but make sure Ben knows you are! Your guy worries about providing. Let him know you really are okay, and happy.
Follow his decisions. Derek didn’t say “obey,” but that’s what he meant! Obey Ben, even if he doesn’t actually ask you too. Obey his heart. Know what he wants to do about church, kids, food, holidays, cleaning, vacation – whatever! – and then follow his spoken and unspoken wishes.
So that was four things, right off the top of a man’s head. Loyalty, honor, contentment, and obedience. I think men just want to matter to someone, to be the center of someone’s world. Your man is craving love, like we all do. So just keep on loving him! Unconditionally! Remember that love covers a multitude of sins. Love him when it’s tough. When he’s hurt you somehow, set aside your pain and love him anyway. You and Ben have something special going on, and Satan’s going to attack your marriage. See it for what it is, and don’t fall for his traps! Hold on to God, hold on to Ben, and keep on being the beautiful woman you are.