“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord,” and he who nourishes a wife preserves a good thing and maintains the favor of the Lord.

God allowed you to find your wife because He believed you would take good care of His precious daughter. This is why you obtain the dual blessings of having her and pleasing Him. But what happens when you don’t take good care of your wife? A man who neglects his wife makes her miserable and then she makes him miserable. As the saying goes, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” But she isn’t the only unhappy one. I believe you also anger God by betraying His confidence in trusting you with her. After all, what father is happy when his son-in-law fails to keep his darling content?

I’ve been to many weddings, and I have yet to see a woman stand at the altar promising to “love, honor, and obey so long as you both shall live” while thinking to herself, “I despise this man, and I expect this marriage to make me miserable.” Not likely. She stands there with hope, anticipation, love, admiration, and the expectation of great joy in her heart. Unfortunately, if you fail to meet her needs and fulfill her hopes, she will not stay that way. The best way to ruin a good woman is to marry her and then fail to give her what she expected to receive.

Oh, sure, perhaps she exerts a tremendous effort and manages to stay sweet and wonderful in spite of you neglecting her. Even the Bible teaches her to love you into being a better man. But to expect or demand this from her is naively optimistic and, quite frankly, unfair. There is a much better way: the Biblical way.

When we quote Ephesians 5, men often emphasize the wife’s duty to submit. Okay, fine. But the husband’s duty is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, His Bride. In thinking about the relationship between Christ and the Church, who has the greater challenge? Who does more? Who is primarily responsible for the ultimate success of the relationship? Your obligation to represent the love of Jesus in your marriage is a monumentally greater task than your wife’s obligation to represent the submission of the Church.

So, what does it take to have a great wife? Simple. Be a great lord. And what does it take to be a great lord? Equally simple. Know the needs and desires of your wife and meet them. If you don’t, she will become just the sort of wife you don’t want: nagging, withholding, bitter, and frustrated. God gave you a beautiful flower. He does not expect a dead thorn bush in return. You’d have done better to remain single than to so ruin the beautiful human rose He entrusted to you. 

That’s the simple part. It may be unpleasant to ponder, but it’s simple. Your job is to nurture, cherish, love, honor, serve, provide for, lead, impress, and protect your wife. And if you never stop doing this, the chance that she will be a great wife is very good. Yes, she retains free will and may fail on her part, but, when you do your part, it becomes much easier for her to do hers.

So how is this to be accomplished? This is where things get dicey. Willard Harley wrote a very helpful book called “His Needs, Her Needs,” in which he outlines the top needs of women. They include affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial support, and family commitment. This is all true. Gary Chapman wrote another helpful book called “The Five Love Languages,” in which he talks about giving love through gifts, quality time, words of encouragement, physical touch, and acts of service. This is also true. Gary Smalley has written books. James Dobson has written books. Ellen Kreidman has written books. And all the books in the world are helpful and at the same time not. Here’s why.