I'm quite certain I am not the first to wish you a happy new year, but I do want to add mine to the many others you have already received. My deep hope is that 2014 will be a year in which your marriage is strengthened to be able to weather the trials and difficulties which you will very likely face this year. I write this column each week in hopes that something you read will better equip you for the amazing challenge of marriage so that you might better receive its enormous benefits.
My thanks to longtime friend and associate Chris Hunter for his major contribution to this week's column. Chris is the regional manager of WESST here in Farmington, where he helps folks begin or improve their business ventures. He is also the local coordinator for an annual men's conference called No Regrets and it is in that capacity that I invited him to join us today.
The 2014 No Regrets Men's Conference is coming to the Four Corners on Saturday, Feb. 1. It is suitable for men of any and all faiths, but someone who is adamantly anti-Christian would likely not benefit by attending. Hosted by the men of several area churches, the conference will be broadcast live from Elmbrook Church in suburban Milwaukee to the First Baptist Church of Kirtland. This is the fourth year the conference has been brought to the Four Corners and the 20th year of the conference. More information can be found at noregrets2014fourcorners.eventbrite.com.
The format of the No Regrets conference is a smattering of top notch speakers with local discussion where men can learn from each other and help and encourage each other to be better husbands, fathers and wage earners. Some years ago, Colleen Sonderman, wife of conference founder Steve Sonderman, gave a presentation on the top 10 things wives need from their husbands. Chris was kind enough to re-listen to that message and draw out excerpts from it to share with us.
These are Not in Priority Order
1. Listen to her: It's more important than sex, gifts and solving her problems. Listening helps a woman feel loved and significant. Listening is distinctly different from hearing. Listening is active involving eye contact and appropriate engagement. Communicate back to your wife what you're hearing. Create a safe place, and please remember you don't always have to fix her or her problems. Most of the time just listening will provide her with solutions.
2. Talk to her: Your wife wants to know what's going on inside of you. It sometimes takes a lot of small talk to catch up and get to the point where the man can go a little bit deeper. Life doesn't get solved during the course of a football time out or halftime. Tell your wife how you're feeling. Be real. Be specific. Tell her your fears. You don't always have to be the strong one. Share your failures. Pride keeps us stuck. Break down the barriers of fear and shame. Be courageous.
3. Study her: Men are from Mars Women from Venus. You have to learn the language she speaks, especially her love language. Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages can be helpful.
4. Encourage her: Your wife needs encouragement on a daily base. If she's a stay-at-home mom let her know that you know she's not a "marshmallow" brain. If she works out of the home, let her know that you appreciate her work skills. Don't buy into the lie of the "super woman" who can do it all. Be your wife's greatest cheerleader.
5. Prioritize her: Your wife needs to know that she's more important to you than your job, hobby or any other pursuit including hunting, sports, the guys, etc. Too many men have a tendency to drop the pursuit once the wedding is done. Look at your schedule and see where you're spending your time. Where do your passions lie? Do you consistently make your wife your priority after God?
6. Care for her: Women are natural caregivers, but women need to be cared for in order to enable them and to feel nurtured and complete. Ask her what you can do to care for and nurture her. Help take care of the kids. Women love to see their husbands take care of the kids as they are so close to the mom's heart. This doesn't matter if its kids or grandkids.
7. Prepare her: Go slow. Be tender in preparing her sexually. It may take all day for her to get "ready." For the woman, it's not the end but the process of "getting there." The hug in the kitchen and the call during the day. These add to the sexual satisfaction for the woman.
8. Lead her: Be the spiritual leader of the family. Too often it's the woman who does the spiritual leading in the family. Women desire that men lead out in the spiritual headship. This must be servant leadership, self-sacrificial leadership. Don't leave it to the mom to lead out in spiritual upbringing of your children. You have a biblical responsibility to lead.
9. Free her: Women have a deep need to have deep relationships with other women. Make every effort to recognize this need in your wives and give her the opportunity to regularly meet with and fellowship with other women. This will help her be a much more "whole" wife.
10. Date her: Don't think this is the lowest priority item. Go out on a regular basis. Just the two of you. Getting away from the house one-on-one is so important. Go away with each other for one week each year. Hang out with each other. It's OK to have crummy furniture and carpet if the money is spent in dating your wife and taking just her with you some place every year to recharge.
Again I thank Chris Hunter for his summation of thoughts from Colleen Sonderman on what wives need most from their husbands. Please be aware that this is a generalization and not necessarily what your wife would say are her top 10 needs. Please take some time to read this with her and ask her to share what she might list.
By the way, Colleen's husband, Steve, will be my guest tomorrow on the TWOgether as ONE radio program at 6 p.m. on KLJH 107.1. Steve will join Chris and me as we discuss the No Regrets conference and ways men can better handle their most important roles of husband and father. Should you want to contact Chris, you may do so by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or the phone number to contact him during the evening is (505) 325-4900.