I have been working in the engaged couples ministry for over 11 years now and besides running the retreats, we have certainly heard and given quite a few talks. The talks are filled with deep conversion, testimonies of mercy, and convicting information that pull hearts toward our Lord in the pathway to self sacrifice.
Like many others, I am a huge fan of practical advice when it comes to marriage.
God created us male and female and we are so very different, especially in our needs! There is a brief list from a secular study that we use on our Catholic retreats to give some practical tips.
The study laid out the top 5 things a man desires/needs in a wife and the top 5 things a woman desires/needs in a husband. I am going to give you the list for the men and since I’m a woman I will give my own personal take or tell a story on how to fulfill these needs and desires. My personal opinion is not church teaching 🙂
The top 5 things a man desires and needs in a wife (says the study) and the men voted in this order of importance.
- Sexual intimacy
- Recreational companionship
- Attractive spouse
- Domestic support
I’m going to start at the bottom of the list.
Notice the word support. A few years back we had a young engaged guy coming to our home to teach guitar. After he returned from his honeymoon I asked him how married life was going. His response cracked me up because he said, “My apartment looks so nice now. There are pillows everywhere, it smells nice, and things are in order.” Now, not every woman fills their home with pillows (but most do! c’mon), but EVERY woman has a heart that can see and create beauty. It is the feminine genius in us. So, support him by giving him order, beauty and a place he loves to call home.
One of the many reasons he married me is because he thought I was beautiful. He was attracted to me. So, no, I do not have to have a super model bod or wear make up every day, but I do think it is of utmost importance to take care of myself. My true beauty comes from the fact that I am a child of God and being confident in who He created me to be. What do you do to take care of yourself? I like to take walks, paint my nails, read, go to the chapel alone to pray, and spend time with friends. I regularly reflect upon what makes me attractive and confident for my man.
Since I’m quite the introvert and quite the homebody I have had to stretch myself to take interest in the things and activities that he really wants me to do or try. I learned to water ski, I learned to drink more than just shirley temples at weddings, and go to parties with lots of people! Even though there are things that I do not do alongside him, there are activities that totally count when I support him and encourage him to do them, such as hunting or going to hang with his buddies around a bonfire with bourbon. It has always been a balancing act with kids, but this is an area we both work on with one another.
My husband makes me come out of my shell to grow or learn or participate in something new or different, which is always an adventure and a beautiful part of my vocation.
Respect. There are few things that a man would desire less than feeling disrespected. Respect does not mean we can’t disagree or that I am not able to speak my mind, but it comes mostly in my tone and my facial expression in those moments. It comes from me valuing and showing appreciation and gratitude for what he provides for me and our family. Respect is speaking well of him to others and not airing our struggles as gossip to friends. Respect stems from me building him up and putting him up on a pedestal and not letting him come down.
Saving the best for last here. This could be written on for hours and St. John Paul II did and it’s because it is the most sacred, most holy, and life giving act we have in the sacrament of matrimony… which also means, it is the embrace that Satan hates the absolute most. He will do everything to destroy and pillage your bedroom till it no longer allows the renewal of vows. It is at the top of the list because it should be. This is the place where my husband knows he is loved, desired, and worthy. This is where he receives so much of his manhood. So, if I have to say no, I have a good reason, and I let him down easy. But I try to be available by knowing myself and what I need and communicating that with words. Doing this can be challenging and it takes work, but it’s certainly something I’ve never regretted!
I once had a holy woman who had been married many years tell me to “have sex every day” and I haven’t accomplished that goal, but that was one wise woman. Sex, as we all know, is life-giving, but prioritizing sex can also be life-changing for your marriage.”
Then there’s the part of the study about women’s needs… which my husband has studied well 😉 and makes all of the above a gift of self that I continually desire to give.