If I could tell husbands one thing, it would be: clean the kitchen.
Okay, it’s not really about cleaning the kitchen. The one piece of advice I would say is: spend the rest of your marriage growing in your understanding of what makes your wife’s heart come alive.
What that means for me is that I need to clean the kitchen.
A year into our marriage, Jenny and I were talking one day when I said, “I think women have it easy.” “Oh, really,” she said “how so?”
“Generally speaking, for a man to be happy, his wife really only needs to focus on one thing. If that is right, most everything else will be right. I just wish there was one thing I could consistently do to make you happy.”
She said, “There is. Clean the kitchen.”
For my wife, cleaning the kitchen is an act of service. When I serve her (and the family) she feels valued, supported, and a part of a team. This makes her heart come alive.
When I fail to serve her, she feels used, isolated, and overlooked. This makes her heart die.
Nearly every couple who comes to me after the wife has had an affair has one thing in common—her heart slowly died.
Men can have affairs for a variety of reasons—poor boundaries, a lack of accountability, or a failing marriage. Many men have affairs in spite of having a good marriage.
But I’m yet to see a woman have an affair for those reasons. In nearly every case, it is because her heart has slowly died and the affair happens at the end of the process, not the beginning.
While the woman is still completely responsible for her actions, men have a responsibility to engage the hearts of their wives.
- What are her hopes?
- What are her lifelong dreams?
- What makes her feel valued?
- What words mean the most to her (HINT: it’s probably not calling her “hot” on social media)?
- What are the small actions which she values the most?
- What are the day-to-day chores which are wearing her out?
Husbands do not naturally understand the hearts of their wives. There is no way for us to. In the same way that women cannot naturally know their husbands (See: If I Could Tell Wives One Thing), husbands cannot naturally understand their wives. It takes communication, a willingness to share our true feelings, and trial and error.
This is the great pursuit of marriage: learning what our spouse’s deepest needs and desires are and trying to do our part to fulfill them. Ultimately a wife is in charge of her own heart, but she deserves a partner in helping her keep it fully alive.
There are few things like a woman with a heart which is fully alive. Our world needs more of them. Far too many are beaten down, trampled on, abused, or ignored.
When a woman’s heart is fully alive, there is nothing in this world which is more beautiful.