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Can you imagine a husband making a funny joke and then, at the punchline landing a solid jab to his wife’s shoulder?

Of course not. It’s out of place (and perhaps domestic abuse). However, in the context of a male friendship such behavior is widely practiced and acceptable.

What’s the difference? (I’m about to get profound here…) Simply, women are different then men. Husbands and wives are different. And this is a good thing, something to be celebrated.

However, it is also apparently an evasive truth. One of the most common non-spiritual, basic, counseling I give to a husband is: don’t treat your wife like a guy. Believe it or not, men seem to forget this fact about as often as we leave our dirty socks on the floor.

One of the chief areas this is seen is the area of romance. Many men think that they can woo their wives by treating like men. We think that we can just snap our fingers or just jump right to physical intimacy without any regard for emotions.

Guys, this doesn’t work.


Instead, what is right and what does work is understanding. Peter reminds husbands to live with their wives in an understanding (or knowledgeable) way (1 Pet. 3.7). Therefore, it is helpful to know what makes them tick. While I realize this task is virtually impossible to master it is possible to improve upon.

C.J. Mahaney once said something that really stuck with me, in reference to marital romance, “Before you touch her body, touch her heart and mind.” What is he saying? He is saying, you better not treat her like a guy! She is different. Therefore, if you know your wife, if you understand your wife, then you have got to do and say things that truly reach her heart.

Here are some suggestions.


One of the ways husbands can do this is through service. I truly believe that some of the best romance in a marriage can happen at the kitchen sink. Instead of sitting around like a piece of furniture when you get home from work, husbands can go to the sink and help with the dishes or cleaning in the kitchen. As you are doing this you can talk about the day and serve by cleaning. Here you are entering into your wife’s world, listening, learning, and helping.


Another way to learn your wife is to actually sit down and talk to her. And, talking while walking with your back turned or while checking the football score doesn’t count. I’m talking about eye to eye talking.

I should also stipulate that it is not always a good idea to talk all about yourself here. Remember you are trying to serve and learn your wife, therefore, listening and learning are good things to do. (Also be sensitive to your wife who loves you and wants to hear about you. Don’t be cryptic, nondescript, overly negative or prideful. Serve her by talking thoughtfully.)

One of the most treasured times in our evenings are when I get to sit and talk with Christie. When I get to hear her talk about her day and the various things the kids did. I am reminded of her love and sacrifice for them and she is reminded of my love for her and the children. This is a good and valuable time.


Another way to learn is to go on dates with your wife. This is pretty obvious. However, a lot of guys take short cuts here. Too many guys are not thoughtful enough here. Going to movies, games, or double dates are fun but they don’t always deliver the level of communication and emotional intimacy that you may be after. If this is the extant of the dating, over the long haul, I don’t think it is going to really help the bottom line. Again, it works great for guys to hang out with one another but marriage requires a bit more thoughtful and intentional work.


The bottom-line for guys is that we have got to be intentional in the romancing of our wives. We cannot become complacent or lazy. We cannot plateau or go backwards. It’s not an option.

One suggestion I have in addition to the above is to ask your wife how you are doing. Does she think you treat her like a guy? Does she think she is the most important person in the world to you? Does she feel like you know her? How does she rate your ability to romance her?

Listen, I don’t have this stuff all figured out. Trust me, these questions convict me too. But I know that my wife is worth it and I want her to feel and know she is loved. I trust many of you husbands can relate. Therefore, takes some time to think, chew on it, and then get to work. And if it’s helpful maybe you can punch me in the shoulder next time we bump into each other.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t Treat Your Wife like a Guy”

  1. John_D_11 says:

    Really good article, very convicting, thanks.

    1. Erik says:

      Good to hear. It’s convicting to me to think about and put out there myself.

  2. donsands says:

    Good wholesome words my friend, and fellow husband. I’m about the worse husband this land could ever know. But, I can say I long to obey our Lord’s truth in how I’m suppose to be. Thanks for taking the time to think this through, and set it before us Erik. It will help me.
    “Christ and the Church.”

    1. Erik says:

      I always appreciate your comments and transparency Don. Take care and enjoy your weekend, and the Lord’s Day.

  3. julie says:

    I love your insight about not treating your wife as a guy. This is a subtle trap for both sexes. We tend to think the other is just like us and treat them accordingly. But we are wrong. we don’t think alike and women are the weaker partner (1 Peter 3). We don’t like to be treated like a guy, just as you guys don’t want to be treated like a woman.

    Can I share some ideas as a wife? Don’t just wash dishes – cook dinner! If you are not a cook (please teach your son to be able to cook at least one good meal!) then how about stopping by the store and getting a frozen lasagna to bake, a rotisserie chicken and a salad and a loaf of french bread, or some kind of already-prepared-meal at the store. Most stores have lots of choices along these lines. Use paper plates if you like and that makes an easy clean-up!

    FLowers are good. Most grocery stores’ flowers rival the expensive florists these days. (no I don’t work for a grocery chain!) Even one beautiful, perfect rose says alot.

    Leave her a note before you go to work in the morning that just says ‘i love you’ or some sentiment that means something to the two of you.

    Pay attention and let her know that you care by showing her that you “know” her and her likes and dislikes.

  4. I think your bottom line to be “thoughtfully intentional” is spot on.

    Today is our 9-yr anniversary, and for half of that time my husband Dave has not been able to physically serve me or our family.

    Dave lives with a genetic nerve disease in both of his arms which renders his strength to lifting less than 10 pounds. He’s had 17 surgeries or procedures on his arms, and in particularly trying times he needs me to help him get dressed, open doors, get food and do other daily tasks.

    By God’s grace Dave is still able to do his work heartily as unto the Lord. But sometimes even a preacher needs to do physically-challenging tasks– like picking up heavy commentaries or typing for hours at a time. We can testify that God’s power is made manifest in Dave’s physical weakness.

    Too many sermons and exhortations to Christian husbands begin and end with acts of physical service, when Ephesians 5 goes much deeper than the bottom of a sink full of dishes.

    I think “thoughtfully intentional” is a great place to start when considering how to love your wife as Christ loves the church.

    Thank you so much for this refreshing perspective!

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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