A dead battery. Nothing can be more frustrating than jumping into your car five minutes late for work with your breakfast bar and hot java in hand, only to hear click, click, click. Then begins the ever-elusive search for a neighbor with jumper cables.
We design batteries to keep our cars running through electricity. God designed husbands to keep marriages running through initiation. When the battery loses its spark, it needs a jump. When a husband forgets or chooses not to initiate, he needs a jolt.
So the wife pulls out the jumper cables. If you’ve been married for any length of time, you’ve been jolted from passivity into taking initiative. One person quipped, “The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they are too old to do it.”
My wife knows exactly what to do. When I neglect a task long enough, she’ll finally stare at me and say, “Ok, I’ll do it.” She marches off with a huff knowing the guilt will shock me into revving up the engines. Whether a wife chooses to jumpstart the marital battery with an emotional outburst, a constant nagging, or an icy shoulder, husbands, we shouldn’t force our wives to yank out the cables.
So, how can husbands keep the battery charged? The key is taking initiative in four areas:
Stereotypically, men are not talkers. You’ve probably heard the statistics on how many words men and women have in their daily bank. By the time a husband walks in the door he has made most of his withdrawals. By contrast, a woman may still have half her quota remaining — and if she is a mom, she might not have tapped into most of her “adult words.”
In the Song of Solomon, we see a man who initiates emotionally with his wife. In chapters 1-2, he comes to sweep her off her feet, literally, and take her to their wedding day. In chapter 4, we see a newly married man talking before connecting physically with his wife. In chapters 5-6, after their first marital conflict — and men take note — he initiates reconciliation. By the time we get to chapter 7, we see a man progressed in his marriage still initiating emotionally with his wife. Over time his love for her deepens rather than dampens.
1. When was the last time you asked your wife about her dreams and aspirations?
2. Are you still romancing your wife with words and actions?
3. Who is the first to seek reconciliation — regardless of who is at fault — you or your wife?
Before a sermon series, I sent a small survey out to the ladies in our church asking what they think their greatest needs are in marriage. The list was varied, but the one item found consistently on every survey was financial security.
Wives need to know their husbands will take care of them. More than wealth, a woman desires security and a husband who practices wise stewardship. A good question to ask would be, “Honey, would you describe me as a budget-keeper or a budget-buster?”
This does not mean guys have to handle all the finances. If my wife was an accountant, I’d gladly turn over the books! Financial initiative means that a husband plays an active role in managing the finances and making sure both husband and wife are committed to the same financial plan.
1. Are you giving the Lord ten percent as a starting point? Do you and your wife talk about ways you can contribute financially to the Kingdom?
2. Are you in debt? Do you and your wife have a plan to eliminate debt?
3. Does your wife know your plan for savings, both long and short-term?
4. How will your wife be taken care of when you are gone?
With the Family
Many men use their vocation as an excuse to avoid parenting. They believe their primary role as a parent is to be a provider. In reality, parenting requires both the husband and the wife. Many counselors say the image children develop of their Heavenly Father is built upon the image of their earthly father. Therefore if a dad remains emotionally distant or acts only as a disciplinarian, his children’s view of God will take on the same visage. However, if a dad intentionally moves into the lives of his children, their image of God will be more rounded. They’ll experience the love, grace, discipline, and vision of a good father.
1. When was the last time you took your son or daughter on a “date with Dad,” to spend individual time with them?
2. Do you constantly tell your children you love them and are proud of them?
3. How are you preparing your children for the future?
4. How are you building into your children spiritually?
Paul calls husbands to initiate spiritually with their wives in Ephesians 5:25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Part of our responsibility as husbands is to present our wives as better off spiritually than when they first met us. That’s a daunting task. It may be the hardest responsibility most husbands face. However, God calls us to be the “spiritual pacesetter.” We do that by initiating spiritual conversations, seeking out ways to mutually grow, and consistently praying.
1. How would you describe the “spiritual atmosphere” of your house? Lively or lifeless?
2. Who sets the pace spiritually in the house? You or your wife?
3. Have you ever initiated prayer with your wife outside of meals?
Husbands, let’s keep the battery charged!