When I married my husband, Kevin, 10 years ago, I didn’t realize all it takes for a man to be a good husband. I knew Kevin was a good man. I knew he loved God. And I knew our desires for the future — family, ministry, adventure — aligned. All of that provided a great foundation for our relationship, but I had no idea the things we would experience together — three job changes, a move across the country and raising four children, including one with special needs.
As our life together unfolded, I began to see Kevin’s strengths and weaknesses — just as he saw mine. But despite everything, he was (and is) a good husband.
Scripture presents a pretty high bar when it comes to married men. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). That may sound like an impossible task, but this love is the foundation of all good husband qualities.
While there are many qualities involved with being a good husband, here are three I’ve discovered in mine:
A good husband seeks to understand his wife
From personality to love language to biological makeup (ahem, hormones), each wife is unique. Husbands ought to become students of their wife — learning what her needs are and what makes her different. The goal is to understand her.
First Peter 3:7 says, “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 may not like to think of myself as “the weaker vessel,” but I know what it feels like when my husband understands me. This is especially important in times of transition and stress, such as after the birth of a baby or a big work deadline.
Not long ago, I was feeling completely overwhelmed by everything on my plate. Kevin was putting in long hours at work, while I took up the slack at home with our four young children. I felt as if I were getting further and further behind. One night the stress I was experiencing came to a head and I broke down in tears. A few nights later, Kevin told me he had found an inexpensive rate at a nearby historical hotel and was sending me on a mini-retreat for the night.
While I appreciated the grand gesture, what meant the most to me was that my husband was seeking to understand how I was feeling and offered the refreshment I needed.
A good husband treats his wife as a gift
Proverbs 5:18 says to “rejoice in the wife of your youth” and Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” In times of relational stress, both spouses are probably not viewing each other as “a gift.” But Scripture makes it clear that a wife is a good thing that comes from God.
I’m sure we can all think of a cute, old married couple, where the husband writes his wife a daily love letter or still holds hands with her on walks. Those are the things that keep romance alive and make a woman feel cherished by her spouse.
Not long ago, I went on a short trip out of state while Kevin stayed home with the kids. When I returned home a few days later, the house was clean and the kids were happy. All evidence pointed to the fact that I was redundant. And yet, after embracing me, my husband’s first words were, “I’m so glad you’re back. I don’t think we could have held out much longer without you.”
Kevin’s admission of my importance to him and to our family was lifegiving to me. In daily life, I thrive on hearing my husband say that he values my opinion and expertise. I love when he notices how hard I’m working or the sacrifices I’m making. Every expression of gratitude goes a long way. And when I feel like I’m a gift to Kevin, I am motivated to give even more.
A good husband suffers well
While future suffering may not be a hot topic at premarital counseling, trials are inevitable. Hard circumstances, such as a job loss, health crisis or the death of a loved one can elevate stress and change the dynamic of the relationship.
As a single woman, I didn’t think about needing to marry someone who could persevere through trials. But I’ve been so thankful my husband has this trait. Research confirms that “there is a clear negative relationship between minor stress and relationship quality.” If that’s the case, just think about what “major stress” can do! In fact, the inability to cope with stress is a leading contributing factor to marital dissatisfaction.
My husband and I have had our share of stress, from dealing with a child’s medical emergency and subsequent special needs, to moving three times in three years. But as the God-ordained servant leader of our family, Kevin has endured these times of stress well, offering me support and relief along the way. Good husband qualities are reflected in Paul’s words in Ephesians to walk in “all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
Shortly after the birth of our third child, we experienced a particularly stressful season in which neither of us felt our needs were being met. Realizing stress was a major component to our relational struggles, Kevin took action, setting up a weekly date night for us. Every Tuesday we went out while a trustworthy babysitter watched our three young children. I cannot fully express how this action breathed life into our marriage and helped us to be a team again.
No husband will be perfect. But he can seek to love his wife like Christ. By seeking to understand her, choosing to cherish her, and suffering well with her, he will demonstrate that love. The good news is, God has given him all he needs to succeed at being a good husband.