My littlest one celebrated her third birthday today, and it has me feeling a bit nostalgic. Although she weaned over a year ago (and is such a big girl now!), I’m over at our family website today sharing some of my favorite things to do while breastfeeding a baby. I hope you’ll come visit me there!
The fourth of our twelve children will be leaving the nest in another couple of months, and it has my husband and me reexamining the job we have done (thus far) raising our children.
Of course, we’ve made lots of mistakes (that’s another post for another day), but by the abundant grace of God (and by following the great example that our own parents modeled for us), there are many things we’ve done right — things we want to make sure we continue to do as we train up the remaining eight children still under our care.
And so I offer you “25 Ways to Raise Capable, Confident Children.” These are in no particular order, beyond the first, which should be our starting point in every endeavor:
- Pray without Ceasing:
Parenting is one of the most demanding (and most rewarding) jobs any of us will ever do. As such, it requires an extra measure of wisdom from above, as well as strength, endurance, and consistency. Pray for yourself, but pray also for and with your children. The best parenting practices in the world will fall flat apart from God’s blessing. Pray that He will soften your children’s heart, that He’ll give them a teachable spirit, that He’ll begin this work early, and that He’ll be faithful to complete it, as He promises in His word. (Philippians 1:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Clearly Define the Rules:
Make sure your children know what you expect of them, then oblige them to obey cheerfully and completely. Well-established and consistently-enforced boundaries are both a protection and a comfort. Do not allow children to disregard the rules without consequence, or to speak to parents (or anyone else) in a disrespectful manner. Bad behavior should be penalized and good behavior should be rewarded. (Ephesians 6:1)
- Teach Them to Listen:
Everything in life comes more easily to a child who knows how to pay attention. Fortunately, listening is a skill which can be practiced from infancy — train your baby to track your voice as you call his name from one side then the other, play “Simon Says” with your toddler, insist that your energetic grade-schooler stand still and make eye contact when you are giving him instructions, call your teen by name and use a key phrase (such as, “Listen to my words…”) to communicate the fact that what you are about to say is important and should be taken to heart. (Proverbs 4:1)
- Bid Them Be Happy:
Cultivate contentment in your children, and you will all live happily ever after. No whining allowed! If you make certain your child’s whining is never rewarded, he will cease to do it. Conversely, when you give in to whining, you reward and reinforce the very behavior that drives most of us crazy and thereby encourage your kids to whine all the more. Of course, it should go without saying that we need to maintain a happy, positive attitude ourselves. The irony of an enraged parent screaming at a child, “Why can’t you just be happy?” is not lost, even on very small children.(Philippians 2:14)
- Nurture Your Marriage:
One of the most important things a father can do for his children is to love their mother, and vice versa. If you are married, do all that you can to invest in and safeguard that relationship. Let your children know that you are 100% committed to making sure your marriage lasts. Kids who are given cause to doubt that fact spend a lot of emotional and psychological energy worrying that their parents may divorce (then feeling somehow responsible when they do). This can completely undermine a child’s sense of stability and security and will often sidetrack the normal development of confidence and competency in multiple areas. (Mark 10:7-9)
- Show Them You Care:
Dr. Anthony Witham once said, “Children spell love T-I-M-E,” and it is true. Spend time with your kids, individually (use errands as an opportunity for one-on-one time) and as a group. Get excited about the things that excite or fascinate them. Take delight in their company, and let them see that delight in you eyes and your smile and your manner. Children need quality and quantity time, so give them plenty of both. There is no substitute for your intentional, fully-invested presence in the life of your child. (Isaiah 49:15)
- Put Them to Work:
Assign household chores. Give them real and increasing responsibility from as young an age as possible. Kids who do chores grow up to be more successful than those who don’t. One of the most important lessons you can teach your child is to work hard and to take pleasure in a job well done. (Colossians 3:23)
- Enjoy Them at Play:
Regularly enter into your child’s world of play. Take pleasure in relaxing with your children, especially after they’ve spent time working alongside you. Get up a rousing game of catch or tag or Spoons or Scrabble. Shoot hoops in the driveway or toss a frisbee at the park. Work a puzzle together. Teach your child how to play chess or bridge or dominoes. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
- Encourage Them to Try New Things:
Expose your children to as broad a range of experience as you are able: music, sports, travel, missions, charity, social and cultural events, etc. This will furnish them with a more well-rounded view of the world and will hopefully make it easier for them to find their place in it. Give them the freedom and the tools to pursue the things that pique their interest. Let them know that by God’s grace, they can do anything they set their minds to. (Philippians 4:13)
- Point Them to Scripture:
Let the Word of God permeate, influence, and inform every facet of family life. Read the Word of God to your children. Teach it to them diligently. Memorize it as a family. This is something that comes especially easy to children, so take advantage of that fact! Hide God’s Word in your heart. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Psalm 119:11)
- Protect Them from Harm:
Vigilantly guard your kids against harmful influences, as well as physical threats. This is fairly easy when they are little, while you still enjoy complete control over their schedules, you pick all their friends for them, and they have not yet discovered a way around those child-proof locks (a skill some kids acquire at an exasperatingly young age). This task becomes more challenging, though no less important, as children grow older and begin to make most choices themselves. Even then, parents should be aware of the company their children keep, the movies they watch, the music they listen to, and the websites they frequent — not for the purpose of micro-managing or being legalistic (that plan will backfire, for sure), but in order to discuss freely and frankly any potential hazards of which parents are aware. (Ezekiel 33:6, Proverbs 4:14-15)
- Help Them Stay Healthy:
Work to establish good habits in the areas of diet, sleep, exercise, and hygiene. Feed your children square meals, and if you want to nourish their souls as well as their bodies, preserve the family dinner hour. Use it as an opportunity to discuss and dissect the day’s events, both within your family circle and in the world at large. Teens whose families eat dinner together at least five times per week are far less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or engage in other risky behavior. They also tend to eat more fruit and vegetables then children in families who do not consistently dine together.
- Give Them Good Manners:
Common courtesy and respect are no longer as common as they ought to be. Teach your children to say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “you’re welcome,” “yes, ma’m,” and “no, sir.” Well-behaved kids are such a novelty these days. Good manners make a young person stand out in a crowd in a more memorable way than the wildest tattoo or body piercing can ever do. (1 Timothy 4:12)
- Read Them Great Books:
Read well-written and beautifully illustrated picture books aloud to your children when they are little, yes, but continue to read engaging novels, inspiring biographies, and thought-provoking non-fiction aloud, even after they grow too big for your lap. Children are never too old to be read to, so choose well and discuss at length. Sharing books together this way is the surest way to foster in your kids a lifetime love for reading, which itself opens whole new worlds of knowledge and experience to them. Thanks to public libraries, this is a practice even the poorest of families can afford.
- Equip Them to Lead:
Stress the importance of integrity, humility, self-discipline, and willingness to stand alone. Model servant-leadership, and challenge them to follow Christ’s example, who came not to be served, but to serve. Encourage them to take initiative and do things that need to be done without being asked. (Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:3-8)
- Treat Them with Understanding:
Kids are people, too! Be patient with your children and treat them with kindness. Do not be unnecessarily harsh with them, and be quick to forgive when they repent of wrongdoing. Be sympathetic. Try to remember what it was like to be in their shoes.(Ephesians 6:4, Ephesians 4:32)
- Turn Off the TV:
Set reasonable limits on screen time of any sort, including but not limited to television, computers, smart phones, tablets, and video games. It would probably be both unrealistic and impractical to attempt to eliminate all electronic media usage from our homes, but any child who spends 53 hours a week staring at a screen could probably find something more productive to do with much of that time. (Psalm 90:12)
- Inspire Good Sportsmanship:
Teach them to lose with grace and to win with humility, conscious that their natural talents and abilities are gifts from above. Stress the importance of always playing fairly and if you must err, err in favor of your opponent. Better to lose the game than to be thought a cheater. (Philippians 2:15)
- Lead Them by Example:
Model for your children the character and behavior you wish them to exhibit, but do not pretend to be perfect (or expect your children to be). Be honest about personal flaws and quick to admit mistakes, apologizing and asking your children’s forgiveness when you wrong them. (1 John 1:8-10)
- Train Them to Think:
Education is more than regurgitating facts; our kids must also learn to reason and to think through things on their own. We can ask questions of them to help the process along (Socratic method), but we must not shy away from their asking questions of us, as well. Anticipate, encourage, and answer their inquiries in a way that is intellectually honest, morally upright, scientifically accurate, and neither defensive nor overly-dramatic. And for those questions for which we have no good answer? Admit you don’t know, then pray about the matter and search for a solution together. (Jeremiah 33:3)
- Grant Them Some Space:
Beginning with letting your two-year-old choose what she wants to wear, allow your children to make their own decisions whenever possible, and be supportive of their choices. You can offer your kids guidance and encouragement without smothering and micromanaging them. But be forewarned: Their thoughts, tastes, and values may not always line up with yours 100%, which is okay. They are individuals and are entitled to have their own hopes and dreams and opinions. Parents can reserve the right to overrule younger children whenever they deem it necessary, but as your kids grow, look for ways they can express their individuality in a manner that is acceptable to both of you. (Romans 14:5)
- Bless Your Children:
Let your sons and daughters know that you are proud of them. Don’t get so focused on correcting your children when they do wrong that you forget to praise them when they do right. Our kids never outgrow the need for approval and affirmation, so give it freely. (Genesis 27:34)
- Don’t Overreact:
Whether your toddler takes a spill while learning to walk or your grade-schooler makes a C on his spelling test or your teenager makes a wrong turn while learning to drive, swallow your fears. Remember that we ALL have mishaps and we ALL make mistakes — surely this one is not the end of the world. Don’t be negligent and reckless, but don’t be hovering and over-protective either. Keep calm and carry on! Take failures in stride and don’t give in to worrying.(Philippians 4:6)
- Entrust Them to God:
Instill in your children a clear vision of what they can accomplish for God’s glory. Do your best to give them an eternal perspective. Pass them the baton. Our kids are in His hands: only by His grace do any of our efforts succeed.
- Let Them Grow Up:
Our ultimate goal is not to raise oversized children, but to raise mature, responsible adults. This will not happen overnight. Neither can you expect to cling tightly until the day your child turns 18 (or 21 or 30), and then let go all at once. It is a gradual process, like the letting out of kite string. Keep a firm hold on the end while they are younger, yes, but be willing to spool out the thread smoothly and steadily as needed. (Proverbs 22:6, Luke 16:10)
So that’s my list. Is there anything you would add? Leave off? What types of things have you found most helpful in raising capable, confident children?
Last January, I wrote about the different approach I was trying for my 2012 New Year’s resolutions. I purposed to work on one new habit at a time and allow it to become firmly established before moving on to another.
Although I never got around to blogging about my progress as planned, it’s not because the experiment didn’t work. It did. But I stayed so busy plugging away at those goals that little time was left for documenting my success.
I may not have built all twenty-four habits I was aiming for, but I achieved many of them, and made decent progress on the others, as well: I read my Bible every single day and finished it in a year. I lost 30 pounds and kept them off for six months (so far) through daily exercise and calorie tracking. I invested daily in my marriage (which really makes our whole family happy, but especially my husband). I taught two more of my children to read. I’ve gleaned and tried lots of new ideas online for projects, crafts, recipes, and organization. I remembered family birthdays in time to get cards or packages signed, sealed and delivered on or before the big day. And I tried to economize in every way I could (although other family members sometime work against me on that one ).
The key to developing any new habit is consistency.
When we chip away daily at our goals, little by little, the results add up over time. Today’s technology makes it even easier to make steady, measurable progress. Here are
seven eight online aps and resources that helped me stay consistent last year in the above mentioned areas:
- Bible Reading Calendar – I love this free one-year Bible reading plan. It gives you a variety of passages all week (history on Mondays, poetry on Wednesdays, gospels on Saturdays, etc), so that you don’t get bogged down in the book of Leviticus for a solid month. You can even sign up to receive each day’s reading delivered directly by email.
- Lose It! – This free app makes tracking calories almost effortless. It lets you scan barcodes, search for restaurant or brand name items, choose from previously eaten foods, or add recipe ingredients to create your own food. And if you, like I, tend to eat the same foods over and over, you can duplicate the calories consumed in an entire meal with a single click. The program calculates how many calories you should consume based on your current weight, age, activity level, and weight loss goals, and also keeps track of calories burned through exercise.
- TTapp – After reading how a fellow homeschooling mother of twelve lost 100+ pounds by doing TTapp, I knew I had to investigate. And am I ever so glad I did! It only takes 15 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week to see amazing results. I lost 30 pounds last year using Teresa Tapp’s Total Body Core DVD and hope to lose another 40 this year. You can see Teresa’s signature move, the “Hoe Down” on YouTube. I know it looks deceptively easy, but just do a couple of sets and see how quickly it will get your heart rate up. My little 2-year-old likes TTapping, too. She looks so adorable doing hoe downs and lunges!
- Love Your Husband on Facebook – This is a page I manage on Facebook, packed with marriage-building how-to and encouragement in the form of marriage quotes, interesting statistics, beautiful graphics, handy printables, thought-provoking polls, and links to helpful articles from across the web. We’d love for you to come join in the conversation. Just click the “Like” box in the righthand margin of this page to sign up.
- Funnix Reading – I got a free beta-copy of this program for an old computer two years ago and enjoyed immediate success with it. It is based on the same program we used for our older children (TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS), but is much more colorful and fun. When we changed computers and I had to purchase a new copy, I was pleased to see how reasonably-priced it was, but would have paid even more for it as by that time I’d seen how well it works. I even bought an extra copy for my daughter-in-law to use with my grandsons. It is easy to teach two or more children simultaneously using this program, which cuts down on my instruction time as well. Funnix gets six thumbs up from us!
- Pinterest – If you’ve never checked out this virtual pinboard, you should, if only to bookmark sites you wish to revisit or articles you’ll want to re-read. There is a wealth of information available on Pinterest. I love the fact that I can find detailed tutorials for doing just about anything I want to do on Pinterest? My girls and I have gleaned great ideas and completed countless Pinterest projects this year.
- Birthday Alarm – I’m sure there are lots of this kind of reminder service available online, but I like Birthday Alarm because it’s free and it allows me to plug in the birthdays I want to remember manually, so I don’t have to pester my friends and family with email requests to fill out forms (and don’t have to divulge anybody’s email address but my own to use the service). Reminders are sent one week, then again three days in advance of each birthday, enough advance notice to drop a card in the mail or a gift ordered and delivered. To add dates by hand, click on “Add Birthdays,” then choose “Other Options” at the bottom of the page, then scroll to the very bottom of the next page and choose “add birthdays manually.”
- Ebates – This is a free shopping portal that will pay you cash back on almost every online purchase you make. Shopping with Ebates was already a well-established habit in my own life, but I’ve been trying to train the rest of my family to use it, too. Simply go to Ebates and click through from there to the merchant you want to shop. Unfortunately, Amazon books does not participate, but just about every other store our family shops online does, including Target, Walmart, Payless Shoes, Office Depot, Eddie Bauer, 123 Inks, Home Depot, Linens ‘N Things, etc. Cash payouts are made quarterly.
And that about sums up my list of favorite apps and resources. What sorts of things have you found helpful in maintaining consistency and working toward your goals? Leave a comment below and tell us about them!
I’m all for making lists of specific goals, but sometimes general reminders are in order, as well. Try posting these objectives on a bulletin board and reviewing them daily until they become automatic responses. (For a free printable copy, click here.)
1. Smile More
2. Spend Less
3. Stay Active
4. Don’t Worry
5. Eat Smarter
6. Pray Harder
7. Hug Your Loved Ones
8. Count Your Blessings
9. Listen Before Speaking
10. Admit When You’re Wrong
Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and productive New Year. Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you’ll visit often in 2013!
For as long as I can remember, I have preferred reading non-fiction to fiction.
When frequenting libraries and bookstores in bygone years, I’d push my way past anything with a plot and head straight for the how-to section. There, I was certain to find a book on some topic that piqued my interest: art or apologetics; bread baking or bricklaying; cross-stitch or computer programing; music or manners or mathematics.
Why would anybody want to read something pretend, I wondered, when they could read something practical, instead?
Non-fiction, to my youthful mind, meant education: exercising your brain and learning something new.
Fiction meant entertainment: vegging out and being amused.
Non-fiction was worthwhile. Fiction was a waste of time.
Or so I thought.
It was not until I met and married my husband that I began to realize what a wealth of knowledge this mindset was causing me to miss, for much wisdom can be gleaned in the pages of those novels, short stories, and literary classics I had hitherto been avoiding.
There simply are some lessons in life that can be communicated more effectively through storytelling than by any other means.
Perhaps that is why Jesus taught in parables — so that his tales and the truths hidden therein would be remembered and pondered for generations to come. He understood that a well-told narrative has the power to influence others in a way simple admonition or instruction could never accomplish.
This potential — this ability to impact a reader’s life and change it for the better — is something all good fiction shares in common.
And so, thanks to my husband’s encouragement and his hearty endorsements, our entire family has chosen to incorporate a little fiction into our daily reading diet for many, many years now. And the benefits we reap from this practice are myriad:
We Gain Positive Role ModelsWho can read about the unfailing loyalty of Samwise Gamgee, the steadfast integrity of Atticus Finch, or the selfless compassion of Peeta Mellark, and not be moved? Fiction allows noble character qualities to be showcased in a way that inspires readers to cultivate the same virtues.
We Are Exposed to Negative ExamplesConversely, fiction can exaggerate loathsome qualities in a manner that makes us want to distance ourselves from even the slightest hint of such behavior. Think of the treacherous duplicity of Fernand Mondego, the all-consuming avarice of Ebenezer Scrooge, the savage brutality of Jack Merridew. Within the pages of literary classics like The Count of Monte Cristo, A Christmas Carol, and Lord of the Flies, we can learn from characters’ shortcomings and witness the far-reaching effects of their vices, without compromising our personal safety or morals in the process.
We Learn Valuable Life LessonsMothers the world over warn their children against running with scissors or other sharp objects, but reading what happens when Rubin Pritchard tries to hightail it to the river with an axe in hand will drive the lesson home like no amount of scolding could ever do. Good fiction provides a wonderful opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others and to see the laws of sowing and reaping in action.
We Enjoy Shared ExperiencesAs Katherine Mansfield has observed, “The pleasure of reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.” Our family has certainly found this to be true, which is why my husband and I both continue to read aloud to our children long after they grow too big for our laps. Sharing such stories in the quiet of an evening with a fire in the hearth is a bonding experience unrivaled by television or movies. We usually spend 30-45 minutes listening to Dad read each evening, but when the book is particularly riveting or suspenseful, the kids will beg for “just one more chapter” — then another and another. Our read-aloud record is five solid hours, from 7PM until midnight, with the children bringing water to their father between chapters so that he wouldn’t lose his voice.
We Expand our VocabularyReading has always been an effective way to augment an impoverished vocabulary, and fiction reading — with its rich language and varied descriptions — is particularly well-suited for this. With the advent of electronic readers, smart phones, and online dictionaries, it is easier than ever to look up unknown words. When reading aloud to children, it is a simple matter of pausing long enough to clarify words or phrases which may be unfamiliar. Our receptive vocabulary (the words we understand when listening or reading) is normally much larger than our productive vocabulary (the words we use in speaking and writing), but with repeated exposure, we are able to grow both lists. Reading good fiction makes the process almost effortless.
We Brush Up on our HistoryI got my first taste of historical fiction reading Bodie Thoene. I (vaguely) remember studying World War II in junior high and high school, but those classes couldn’t begin to cement in my mind the names and dates and events involved like Thoene’s Zion Covenant series did. Similarly, GA Henty has really helped history come alive for our kids. Well-written historical fiction provides a wonderful way to view past events from a fresh perspective.
We Improve Reading ComprehensionThe skill required to follow the plot of a novel from beginning to end is exactly the skill needed to perform well on the verbal portion of the SAT, ACT, GRE, etc. With rare exception, the more fiction a person reads, the easier comprehension becomes, and the better he’ll do on standardized tests. Practice, as they say, makes perfect. One of our children shared my penchant for reading non-fiction, but when at age 15, he missed passing an English Composition CLEP test by two points, his father suggested he read two chapters a day of fiction (any fiction) for six months, then retake the exam. He did, and without any other study or preparation, he passed it easily, increasing his score by a whopping 25%. His dad knew that what he needed was to get so drawn into a story that he couldn’t put it down — something not likely to happen with the technical books he’d been reading.
We Expand our HorizonsStories from or about other parts of the world can do much to broaden our outlook on life. The multi-cultural literature offered by Sonlight Curriculum has been great for helping our family see beyond our own backyard. We highly recommend the titles they carry, many of which I am convinced we would never have found on our own.
We are Spurred to ActionI remember first reading Charlotte’s Web in second grade, then swearing off bacon for years afterward. Fiction has the power to not only influence public thought and opinion, but to challenge and change our practices, as well. Consider, for instance, the public’s response to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Legend has it that when Abraham Lincoln first met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he greeted her by saying, “So you’re the little woman who started this big war!”
As you can see, time spent reading good, engaging fiction is far from wasted. Have you experienced any of these benefits from your own reading — or discovered other blessings not mentioned? Please leave a comment below and let me know. And if you know of a novel that is particularly worthwhile, I’d love to hear about that, as well!
Go To >>Life Lesson #4
Here’s a handy chart that details just a few of the myriad benefits available to couples who choose not to neglect marital intimacy. I’ve addressed these remarks to wives because (1) I am writing to women in the spirit of Titus 2:3-5 and (2) when evaluating the importance of sex in marriage, women have historically required a little more convincing then men.
It should also be noted that when sex is pursued outside the context of marriage, many of these benefits are negated or even reversed. Promiscuity and infidelity increase your susceptibility to disease, cause premature aging, erode trust and stability in marriage, and promote unhealthy attitudes towards sex and marriage in children, to name just a few.
You’ll find details on all the studies cited above (and more!) in my book, LOVE YOUR HUSBAND/ LOVE YOURSELF.
Which of the seven benefits mentioned in this infographic do you find most appealing? Most convicting?
I’m telling my age to admit it, but my first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100. Back in the early 80′s, all incoming freshmen at Dallas Baptist University were required to buy one and to take a class that would teach us to use it.
Nevertheless, it was not until I met my future husband (three years and countless computer-printed assignments later) that I learned anything about the machine’s text-wrapping capabilities. For six long semesters, I’d kept a furtive watch on the LCD display and hit “return” every time the curser got close to the right-hand side of the screen, a holdover habit from years spent using a manual typewriter.
Within days of our first meeting, however, Doug observed my unusual approach to word processing and gently informed me that, if I would just keep typing, the text would automatically bump down to the next line without my doing anything to make it happen.
That one little pointer saved me massive amounts of time, completely revolutionized the way I did homework, and contributed even further to my rapidly growing affection for the guy I’d eventually marry.
What’s more, this was but the first of innumerable things he would teach me. Subsequent lessons have ranged from the practical (how to change the oil in my car, how to serve a volleyball, how to fend off an armed attacker) to the profound (how should our faith influence our actions? what does it mean to serve God with our whole heart? how can we most effectively communicate His love to others?).
Some of these concepts are just too good to keep to myself, so I’ve decided to publish seven of my favorites in a series of posts devoted to the “Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My Husband.” You’ll find a brief synopsis of each listed below:
- Keep Your Eyes on the Ball -
You must stay focused on your goals if you ever hope to reach them.
- Laughter is Good Medicine -
A sense of humor makes good times more pleasant and bad times more bearable.
- You Can Learn a Lot by Reading Fiction -
I used to think that reading fiction was a waste of time; now I know otherwise.
- Perfectionism Is a Trap -
There are lots of areas in life where “good enough” should be good enough.
- Always Tip Your Waiter Well -
Good service deserves it; poor service will be improved by it.
- God Wants the Whole Pie -
He’ll never be satisfied with a single piece, no matter how big or promptly offered.
- It’s Only Money -
Our security rests in God, not in the numbers on our bank statement.
I hope you’ll come back to read the full post for each point (which I’ll be publishing weekly), and that you will be as richly blessed as I have by these life-changing lessons.
If you’d prefer to have these posts delivered directly to your inbox, you may sign-up for a free email subscription in the the sidebar on the right (scroll up to see it). Please do
Go to LIFE LESSON #1 >>
For any readers who may have thought it unfair for me to discuss a wife’s responsibility to show respect for her husband without mention of the husband’s obligation to love his wife, I offer this companion list for men: 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife.
It’s good stuff. My husband wrote it, but more importantly, he lives it. You’ll find the full list posted on his blog, All Truth is God’s Truth. Read it, print it, share it with your husband, but please don’t wait for him to make the first move. Your demonstrating sincere respect for him will make it easier for him to feel genuine love towards you, and vice versa.
When it comes to physical intimacy, most husbands are enthusiastic participants. But statistics show that in about 20% of marriages, it is the wife who has the stronger sex drive. A few such women have written to me looking for ways to help remedy this situation.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution, but the following few practical suggestions may help. Just remember: dealing with a disinterested spouse requires love, understanding, and more than a little PATIENCE….
P = Pray about it:
Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment as you address any underlying problems that may be adversely affecting your husband’s desire for intimacy. God alone has the power to transform this area of your marriage into everything it was meant to be, so pray earnestly that He would do so.
A = Adjust his diet:
Testosterone is the primary hormone that regulates a man’s sex drive, so you might add foods to his diet that are known to help raise testosterone levels (like salmon, avocados, and bananas) and limit foods that can interfere with testosterone production (such as fried foods, sugar and caffeine). Studies suggest that getting regular aerobic exercise can also improve testosterone levels, so consider taking a short walk around the block together while your food digests.
T = Turn in early: Schedule time earlier in the day to enjoy physical intimacy. Waiting until either or both of you are tired and exhausted is a sure recipe for frustration. Try setting time aside time before dinner, so that you are not contending with full stomachs, as well.
I = Initiate often: Pursue intimacy with your husband frequently, and try not to get your feelings hurt if/when he turns you down. This is especially important if you have consistently rejected his advances in the past. He may have developed a why-even-bother mentality and may require a little convincing that you really are serious about mending your ways.
E = Exercise good hygiene: Take care of your physical appearance. Men are visual creatures, and marriage does not alter that fact. So do your best to look your best: exercise, watch what you eat, bathe or shower regularly, style your hair, brush your teeth, dress in clean, well-fitting clothes. If your husband likes for you to wear a little makeup or perfume, then do that, as well.
N = Never belittle him: Nothing will kill a man’s sex drive faster than a nagging, disrespectful, or resentful wife. Treat him like a man, not like a child. Focus on his positive qualities and voice sincere appreciation for them. Take any negative qualities to the throne of grace and leave them there; God can do a much more effective job of improving your husband than you could ever hope to do yourself.
C = Consult a physician: Disinterest in sex is sometimes a symptom of disease or side-effect of medication. It can also be caused by “performance anxiety” — fear that things won’t work the way they are supposed to work — which often becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Encourage your husband to get a complete physical and to discuss this issue with his doctor.
E = Express non-sexual affection: You can receive many of the same oxytocin-producing benefits of sex through non-sexual touch. Hugs, kisses, hand-holding, and back-rubs aren’t a substitute, but are a great supplement until your husband is ready for more.
For more information on why cultivating an active sex life is a worthy goal for any wife, please read my book: Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself: Embracing God’s Purpose for Passion in Marriage.
- When awed by His works, we should praise Him.
- When struck by His greatness, we should worship Him.
- When encumbered by doubts, we should trust in Him.
- When ensnared by sin, we should confess to Him.
- When weary and careworn, we should lean on Him.
- When wisdom is needed, we should ask of Him.
- When brimming with joy, we should sing to Him.
- When weighed down with grief, we should cling to Him.
- When honored, we should magnify Him.
- When humbled, we should hide in Him.
- When burdened for the lost — as we all need to be — we should plead for His unfailing mercy.
- When blessed beyond measure — as each of us are — we should thank Him for His unmerited grace.
An attitude of constant prayer is a distinguishing mark of the mature Christian, which is why we are commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). I don’t know who said it, but it is definitely true: “If you only pray when you’re in trouble, you’re in trouble.”