SARALAND, Ala. (BP) -- What is the best thing you can do for your husband?
Love him. Love him. Love him.
My love does something no one else's love does:
-- My love gives my husband courage.
You know that line about the love of God, "If God is for us who can be against us?" My love for my husband can give him this empowering, courage-building truth, "If she is for me who can be against me?"
"Courage comes to the heart that is convinced they are loved," Beth Moore has said. More than we know, our men live with the nagging fear that he is not man enough. He feels evaluated, measured or stacked up against someone else. My love gives him courage for that world.
"God, let my love make him brave."
-- My love helps quiet his fears about himself.
The men we have married are surprisingly vulnerable to self-doubt and gnawing sense of inadequacy. Because success and achievement play such a vital role in a man's sense of well-being, men are prone to greater fear of failure than women. Someone in the ministry, for example, is ripe for fear of failure. He is haunted by these fears more than we can possibly know.
"God, use my love to quiet the fears that lurk in his soul."
-- My love tells him the truth.
Love is closely attached to truth in Scripture. Love wants his highest and best. "It is not good for man to be alone" is God's commentary on marriage in Genesis. It is good that we mutually speak the truth in love so we can become better people. We want this to be true of us: "She does him good and not harm." Your husband, as a leader, has few who will tell him the truth. He needs truth driven by your love.
"God, let the truth I tell him be Your truth."
-- My love is not dependent on his performance.
Caution sign right here ladies. Consider this: "If your husband always feels as though he is only in your good graces when he has performed to your standards or met your expectations, he will not see you as his lover, friend or partner, but as his boss" (from the Gospel Coalition website).
I really don't want to be his boss. But I confess I act like it often.
"God, let my love look like your Gospel -- grace-filled and unconditional."
-- My love gives him a safe place to park his car of vulnerability.
We say we want this, but in actuality we fear it. Vulnerability is a risk we take for a greater good. If your husband tells you he is afraid of "__________," your profound, unconditional love makes that a safe sentence for him. When he breaks through and exposes himself, it is because he trusts your love. Do not let him regret the risk he just took. Be a part of making the outcome a greater good.
"God, when he risks his soul, let me salve it with your hope and power."
-- My love draws him into emotional intimacy.
Momentum from these ideas can build an intimacy bridge for him to walk across. When he feels safe, unafraid and unconditionally loved, he can become a different man. Add to this when we initiate closeness on his terms -- which is sexual intimacy -- it is an added bonus for both of us. Win-Win.
"God, let me see how I draw him into intimacy, not demand it."
This is not just a Valentine's Day thing. It's a 365-day thing. Love, it's the best thing ever.
"And now abide faith, hope, love but the greatest of these is love" 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Kathy Ferguson Litton is the North American Mission Board's national consultant for ministry to pastors' wives. Her husband, Ed Litton, is pastor of First Baptist North Mobile in Saraland, Ala. This column first appeared at NAMB's www.Flourish.me website, an online equipping community for ministers' wives.