Understand his appetites, and free his body. Your husband’s two primary physical appetites are for food and sex. He will appreciate it whenever you make the effort to prepare delicious and nutritious food for him. Understand the pressure he feels sexually as a man: Men are wired to respond to visual stimulation, and must deal with seeing sexual imagery often in our society today. Your husband can’t escape it, so he must try to resist the temptation of it while fighting to remain faithful to you as God calls him to be. Your husband needs sexual release often in order to be emotionally healthy. Don’t withhold sex from him when there’s conflict between you. Instead, work on communicating with each other through sex, which will calm your husband, bond him closer to you, and motivate him to work on your marriage more. Let him know what you need him to do to help you enjoy sex with him more, and help him learn how to improve your sex life together. Do whatever you can to make yourself physically attractive, such as by taking good care of your body through exercise and eating well and dressing attractively both in public and at home. If your husband refuses to have sex with you, seek counseling to figure out how to solve the problem.

Understand his fears, and free his soul. Men greatly fear any type of disempowerment, such as disease, disability, losing a job or income, losing their families, being publicly embarrassed, or being perceived as unmanly. Your husband will try to avoid situations in which he feels foolish or must depend on others rather than on himself, and he will gravitate to situations in which he feels competent and successful. He will be afraid of sharing his feelings with you if you react negatively to his honesty (such as by criticizing him or withdrawing from him). So the next time your husband shares his feelings – no matter how shocking they are to you – don’t become upset or dismiss his concerns. Instead, be as supportive and encouraging as you can. Give your husband respect (even when he doesn’t deserve it) because God calls you to do so; the gift of unconditional respect will change the dynamic of your marriage for the better. Speak up to share your concerns whenever you need to, and don’t tolerate disrespect from your husband; let him know that you expect to be treated well. Take advantage of every opportunity to show your husband that you appreciate him, trust him, believe in him, and need him. Encourage him through kind words and actions whenever you can.

Understand how your husband relates to God and the church, and free his spirit. Realize that men want to connect with God as much as women do, but many churches don’t fuel men’s need for adventure in their relationships with God, and many don’t make men feel as valued and needed as women feel in church. Help your husband find a church you can participate in together where he can: take the risks he needs to take to grow spiritually, put his talents and skills to use helping others, and connect with a pastor he respects and friends he admires. Never criticize or belittle your husband’s spiritual life; instead, do all you can to encourage him to grow and build his confidence relating to God.

Adapted from What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You: A Guided Tour of a Man’s Body, Soul, and Spirit, copyright 2012 by David Murrow. Published by Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse.

David Murrow is the bestselling author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and director of Church for Men, which works to restore a healthy masculine spirit in churches. A sought-after expert and speaker on men's issues, he spent 20 years honing his skills as a communicator producing and writing award-winning TV documentaries, commercials, and specials. David has a degree in anthropology. He and his wife have three children and live in Chugiak, Alaska. Learn more at www.churchformen.com.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: April 19, 2013