Would it surprise you to hear me say that there is no better method for a husband to use to better energize, motivate, and influence his wife than to simply love her unconditionally?
When a wife recognizes that her husband has decided to be a man who authentically and consistently loves her no matter her response, she comes under conviction about her disrespectful reactions to him.
When a wife discerns that her husband is not loving her based on her performance, but for the woman she is deep in her heart and for who God made her to be, this convicts and softens her.
Interestingly, not only does she feel badly about her disrespectful reactions, she finds new motivation to put on a respectful attitude.
Few things affect the heart of a wife like a husband’s decision to be a loving man regardless of the conditions.
From my experience, the number one fear a woman has is that her husband will only love her as long as she meets a carnal standard he has set for her. Wives are hypersensitive to this, and most shut down in defeat. An example is when a husband buys his wife a diet book. She goes through the roof because she hears the message, “I will only love you as long as you look like a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.”
God did not hardwire women to respond to conditional love, which to a wife is not love.
On the other hand, when a husband appears loving to his wife, because he has chosen to be a loving man no matter what, she softens and wants to serve him.
Even a rebellious wife is likely to get back on track in the marriage. This is why God calls Hosea to go love Gomer his wife, who was an adulterous (Hosea 3:1). God reveals to Hosea that love wins even the heart of a rebellious woman.
If anything wins the heart of a woman, it is when a man chooses to love her no matter what because he has chosen to be a loving man no matter what.
The key is for the husband to stay the course in the face of a rebellious wife’s initial resistance.
At first, when such a wife is loved this way, it convicts her to change. When she does not want to change, she pushes back against this love. It is then the husband must not waver.
One husband told his wife that he’d wait for her to return as she left to find love with another man. Obviously, she did not respond, “Hey, thank you.” She stormed out of the house. In fact, not a few wives throw a fit when a husband demonstrates this kind of love. Why? Again, God hardwired a wife to be convicted by such love.
At this moment, though, a rebellious wife does not want to be convicted so she goes ballistic on him as she fights what she knows to be love, but a love that her current rebelliousness and sin is trying to tell her she does not want from her husband.
In the case of this husband, his words haunted her and over the next twelve months they convicted her to such an extent that she softened. His unconditional love put in her a new desire and motivation to return in humility and with respect, which she did for the next thirty years until her husband passed away.
Indeed, unconditional love affects the conditions of a wife’s heart!
The challenge for husbands is to discern what feels loving and unloving since in most instances he does not intend to be unloving so ends up misrepresenting his deepest heart as an honorable man.
But he must believe based on Ephesians 5:33 that God designed a wife to respond to love. That’s why we read the refrain in the Old Testament, “Now my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:32). Wives yearn more than anything to be loved. When she feels loved, she feels whole and fulfilled. She finds it almost impossible to resist this husband’s loving demeanor, words, and actions—given he is steady and sincere.
What about the woman who resists? Usually there is one of two reasons.
One, this man wounded her earlier, let’s say by having an affair. So, as he seeks to change course and be this loving man in obedience to God, she fears he isn’t for real and she will be devastated. Thus, she guards her heart against that hurt and is less responsive to his loving advances. But when he keeps at it, most wives soften and allow themselves to respond. As he keeps talking in loving tones, makes sure he does not look at her with hostility, and does things that feel loving to her, most wives soften. And when the husband occasionally slips and fails to be as loving as he ought to be, if he says, “I am sorry, will you forgive me?” she softens. He need not be a perfect man but one who readily and humbly confesses when he failed to be as loving as he ought to be.
The other reason a wife would resist her husband’s unconditional love is that she is the one having an affair and in her eyes her husband can do nothing right. She has to make her husband a total jerk so she can feel good about her decision to have an affair. Should a husband quit? God called Hosea to win back his adulterous wife, Gomer, by loving her. If anything can win a wife back, it is love. There is no guarantee that love will fix the marriage by winning back a wife’s heart. But that wife would have to actively resist such love. She would have to fight against the love code in her DNA. And, if she pursued love from another man but now sees it from her husband, most wives will reconsider and not a few return to the authentic and consistent love from the husband.
Husbands, you cannot motivate your wife to better respect you by withholding your love or demanding her respect. If you want to energize, influence, or even heal your hurting wife, there is no more effective cure than unconditional love.
And today is the perfect day to begin!
- Husbands, what methods outside of unconditional love have you tried to better motivate, energize, or influence your wife? How did she respond in the short-term? In the long-term?
- Wives, what methods outside of clearly expressing his unconditional love toward you has your husband used to try and motivate, energize, and influence you? How did they work in the short-term? In the long-term?
- Emerson wrote, “The number one fear a woman has is that her husband will only love her as long as she meets a carnal standard he has set for her.” Do you agree or disagree? Husbands, in what ways might you have been guilty of either intentionally or unintentionally setting a “carnal standard” for your wife? Wives, how have you responded when you have felt a carnal standard being set for you?
- Husbands, are you willing to love your wife unconditionally no matter what she has done or how she responds to your love? Would you tell her that today?