Most of what you think about love is a lie. When you think of love, you likely think about romantic dinners or that warm feeling that comes over you when you used to think about her or sex. While all of that can be an important part of an intimate relationship, none of it is the stuff that builds intimacy, trust, friendship, or security. None of it is love.
Our movies, books, and songs have lied to us by teaching us that love is primarily a feeling or an experience. But love, as unsexy as it sounds, is not a feeling—it’s a choice. And it’s one you must make, not just daily, but moment by moment. Here are 11 unsexy but incredibly important ways to love your wife that have nothing to do with feelings.
1. Be patient.
We all make mistakes and the world is plenty uncaring and unflinching. Choosing to be patient when she makes a mistake or isn’t moving at the pace you’d like is one of the most powerful ways to love your wife. It shows that you value her more than perfection or schedule.
2. Be kind.
It’s easy to take your wife for granted. And being kind takes effort. It takes a willingness to think before you speak and consider the other person’s needs more than your own. It’s choosing to do what benefits her, even if it costs you something. Kindness takes intention. Love is kind.
3. Root for her.
As a husband, you are your wife’s most important cheerleader. There is plenty in life that will intimidate her and tell her she can’t or shouldn’t do what’s on her heart to do. She needs someone who is in her corner. That’s your job. Your job is not primarily to be the pragmatist or the realist. She needs you to be for her. Cheer hard.
4. Serve her.
Yes, breakfast in bed is nice, but serving your wife goes beyond gestures. Serving your wife is about working for her good. It’s choosing to orient your life in such a way as to prioritize her wants and needs over your own.
5. Honor her.
To honor your wife is to treat her as a sacred gift. Not because she always deserves it—who does?—but love doesn’t treat you as you deserve. Love treats your wife as you want to be treated. Love honors.
6. Keep a short list.
Your wife has hurt you at times. Often this has been unintentional; occasionally it’s been intentional. You’ve done the same. People are messy, broken and we often say and do things and when we look back, we regret them. We were angry or hurt or just foolish. This happens to everyone. One of the most powerful ways to love your wife is to forgive generously. Don’t hold on to past offenses. Let it go.
7. Tell her the truth.
Some of us like to keep secrets. They may not be deep, dark secrets. Perhaps we think they are mostly harmless. But secrets create barriers to intimacy. If you want to love your wife, tell her the truth.
8. Protect her.
I don’t necessarily mean physically, though of course if there are physical threats, you should protect your wife from them. However, it’s much more common that threats come in the form of harmful relationships, insulting words, accusations. Does your mom speak critically of your wife? Do you have a teenager who hurls hurtful words? Love chooses to safeguard your wife from things that could hurt her.
9. Trust her.
Love trusts. Love believes that the other is out for your good. I know this can be hard, especially when you’ve been hurt in the past. To trust is to be vulnerable. But if you can’t be vulnerable with someone, you can’t really love her. One of the best ways to love your wife is to trust that she wants good for you.
10. Look for the best.Love focuses on what is good.
It’s easy to point out your wife’s failures. But love doesn’t rejoice in failure. Love looks for the best and is sure to point it out. Love affirms and encourages. It’s not that you pretend the failures don’t happen; it’s that you don’t stew over them. Love focuses on what is good.
11. Don’t quit.
Love keeps going. Life will throw you curveballs. Your marriage will struggle at times. There will be days when you wonder if it’s worth it. But love doesn’t quit. Love keeps serving, giving, encouraging, and praying. In short, love perseveres.
Sound off: What are other ways to love your wife that aren’t dependent on feelings?
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What’s one way I show my love for you?”