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Real Men and Their Wives

Kyle Thompson, a Watermark elder, describes the characteristics of the successful husband.

Todd WagnerSep 27, 2005

In This Series (4)
Real Men and Their Sons
Kyle KaiglerOct 11, 2005
Real Men and Their Daughters
Gary StroopeOct 4, 2005
Real Men and Their Wives
Todd WagnerSep 27, 2005
Real Men and Their Work
Todd WagnerSep 20, 2005

Todd Wagner: We're going to get started here. This morning, my friend, Kyle Thompson, is going to speak with us about this. He's about as equipped as anybody I know to walk us through what the husband's responsibility is, or the man's responsibility is, in valuing and being tender toward the one he's shepherding.

Just to kind of get us started (some of you guys might have seen this before), there are some different courses that are out there to help us understand how to get along. Kyle's going to give you the real information today, but this is something somebody put down at one point. These are continuing education courses for men and continuing education courses for women. I'll share a few of these for you. In case The Real Men's Club doesn't cover it for you, you might want to sign up for this.

The first class for men is called Meaningful Communication: Where No Man Has Gone Before. Women would like you to be at that. There is one for women offered called Silence, The Final Frontier: Where No Woman Has Gone Before. For the men, there's a class called The Under-Discovered Side of Baking: You Do It. For women, The Under-Discovered Side of Banking: Making Deposits.

For men, Combating the Couch Potato Syndrome: Surprise! The NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball Do Not Require Your Nightly Presence to Remain on the Air. For women, Combating the Imelda Marcos Syndrome: You Don't Need New Shoes Every Day. It goes down. There are some pretty funny ones in here. I like this one. Telephone Skills: How to Use One, and Not Two Weeks After You First Received Your Phone Number. For women, Telephone Skills for Women: How to Hang Up.

For women, Introduction to Parking. For Women: Advanced Parking: Reversing into a Space. For women, Overcoming Anal Retentive Behavior: Learning to Leave the Towels on the Floor without Freaking Out. For men, Overcoming Stupid Behavior: Don't Treat Her Differently When Your Friends are Around. I like this one right here. For men, a continuing education course called Liquid Grain Storage: On Your Stomach, Men, It's Fat. For women, Water Retention: Fact or Fat? is what that one is called. You have to be careful with some of these.

Here's one for women. Do these Jeans Make my Butt Look Big? Why Men Lie. For men, Was I Any Good? Why Women Lie. Goodness gracious. Pretty funny stuff in here. Here's the last two. For guys, Sex: How to Slow Down. For women, Sex: It's for Married Couples Too. Isn't that amazing? That's become a joke in our society. Everybody thinks premarital sex is the best kind of sex.

One of the reasons people think that is because we don't know what it means to develop an authentic intimate relationship with the opposite sex, where there's real trust, where there's real love, where there's real intimacy, and you don't need this titillation, degrading, "I'm going to use you for my own pleasure," kind of relationship that leaves scars.

There can be sex in the context of a relationship where there's no guilt. There's no pain. There are no regrets, and it deepens in the way you love and serve each other. You can't have that kind of sex without having a certain kind of relationship, and you're going to have a real opportunity this morning to hear Kyle talk a little bit about that and share with us how we as men, real men, treat women. Let's bring Kyle on up here. Come on, buddy.

Kyle Thompson: That's a great reminder of why it's so tough for us, just listening to some of those. Let me pray for us real quick.

Father, I thank you that you do have provision for us to be equipped. We can laugh and enjoy the ways we are incompetent, but we can excel still more in the ways you've designed for us to love and lead our wives and the role you have, the joy and fulfillment you have, in marriage. I pray our time this morning would spur us on to take new ground in that area. We thank you and thank you for your Son. Amen.

I grew up in West Texas, in the Panhandle. My dad was a young petroleum engineer, and they had their first child when he was 18 years old. My dad pretty much did what he felt like he had to do to support his family. That involved us moving every couple of years. My dad spent most of his time out on drilling locations, so I didn't see him a whole lot. My mom also worked, but she ran the household. She was in charge of everything else other than my dad working.

When Lucina and I got married, I had learned a little bit about God's design for marriage and what my role as a husband was supposed to look like, but I had 20-plus years of watching my mom and dad. I figured out real quick that Lucina did not sign on to be my mom, to serve all of my needs, and bring me the paper when I was watching the game on Monday night. It developed and evolved into a lot of conflict. I became more and more passive as the conflict escalated and ended up pouring a lot of my passion and energy into my business.

There's a story about a couple, about a man who had a real severe illness and was extremely sick. He wanted to go into the doctor to find out what in the world was going on with him. He and his wife went. He went in, and after the full examination, the doctor sent the husband into the waiting room and called the wife in. He said, "Look. Your husband is extremely ill. He has a very serious disease. In addition, he's dealing with tremendous stress. If you don't do the following, I don't think he's going to make it. I think he's going to die."

The wife said, "Wow. What do I need to do?" He said, "Well, every morning when you get your husband up, you need to be very pleasant. Do everything you can to make sure he is in a good mood. Fix him a nice healthy breakfast before you send him off to work. In the evening, when he gets home, have a real healthy dinner ready for him. Low-carb, low-calorie. Don't share any of your problems with him that you've had during the day, and don't ask him to do any chores, because that's only going to escalate his stress.

One thing I want you to do to help him relax in the evening is, if you would, just walk around in skimpy lingerie during the evening and give him a lot of backrubs. Maybe have him sit in his favorite chair and watch a sporting event on television. The most important thing I want you to do is make sure you make love to your husband just as often as he wants. You need to satisfy his every desire and whim. If you do this for the next 10 months, then I think your husband's health is going to be fully restored."

The wife looked at him and said, "Hmm. Okay." She walks out of the doctor's office into the waiting room. The husband is standing there, and he says, "Well, what did the doctor say?" She looks at him, and she says, "I think you're going to die." You know, that's pretty much where my wife, Lucina, was after five years of marriage. She would tell you today that she was pretty much praying I would die, and she would get a do-over.

She had come in to me one Sunday afternoon and said, "I need to talk to you." She sat me down, and she said, "Look. I don't love you. I don't like you. The thought of being married to you is repulsive to me, but I'm going to stay married with you because I made a commitment to do that. You need to understand, this physical thing? That's not a part of our deal. We'll continue to live in the same house." We, effectively, were just living together un-divorced.

I had done such a poor job of fulfilling my role as a husband and loving her that her heart had pretty much died. I think for many of us, as husbands, when it comes to fulfilling our role, we're ill-equipped. We're not trained. We're not naturally wired, like Todd talked about in those examples, to play our role. For many of us, it's not modeled, and we don't see those roles really played in our culture.

As a result, we drive our passion and energy somewhere else. I know for a lot of us, we strive for excellence in our businesses, but when we come home and are dealing with our wives, it's real easy to put it on autopilot. What I want to do is give you some real practical tools. We'll go through the design of the roles, but I want to give you some real practical things you can use.

First, love like Christ. How did Christ love? He cherished. He nourished. He sacrificed. He honored. Ephesians 5:25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." Normally, when I use the term love, I'm talking about something I love to do because it brings me pleasure. I love watching college football. I would have loved to have watched that LSU-Tennessee game last night, but I had something else going on. The word love here is not that type of love. It's an action word. It's love that initiates and takes action.

Love is seeking God's best for our spouse. Love is based on an act of the will, not passing feelings. We don't always love because it feels right. Lucina is not always lovable, but we love because it is right. It's taking action.

Love is sacrificial action, not good intentions. When Lucina told me that five years into our marriage, I was stunned, because I felt like, "I'm a great husband." I had a great job. I was in good shape. We went to church on Sundays. I just couldn't believe she was dissatisfied with the husband I was.

That really started me out on this journey of trying to dig deeper and understand…What is God's design? What is the role he has for me to play? As I began to understand that, one of the things I began to do to try to soften and open her heart back up is I began to write notes and communicate to her the ways I was attracted to her, to let her know the things I cherished, the ways she was gifted. I would write little notes, and I'd put them in her sink or put them on her car before she left for work and just communicate and take action to communicate love.

I was in this room two weeks ago. My wife teaches a Wednesday morning women's study. I sat in the back, and I listened for maybe seven minutes. She saw me. I left, and I wrote her a little note and put it on her car. That afternoon she called me at my office, and you would have thought I just told her I was taking her away two weeks to a deserted island. It was incredible the way she felt loved by the little action I took.

One of the things I've realized for myself, and I think is true for a lot of men, is we like to know where we stand. I want to know a score on a scorecard so I can keep track of where I stand with loving her with actions. I came across this loving action point system I think will help you guys. The way this point system works is if you do something that causes your wife to feel love, then you get points. If you do something your wife expects, then there's no points. If you do something that discourages her, then points are subtracted.

Let me walk through this, and you guys may want to take notes so you can use it. First of all, simple duties. You make the bed, +1. You make the bed but forget to add the decorative pillows, +0. You leave the toilet seat up, -5. You replace the toilet paper roll when it's empty, +0. When the toilet paper roll is empty, you resort to Kleenex, -1. You go to the grocery store to buy her tampons, +15, but return with beer, -5.

Your physique. You develop a noticeable potbelly, -15. You develop a potbelly and exercise to get rid of it, +10. You develop a potbelly and resort to loose jeans and baggy Tommy Bahama shirts, -30. You say, "It doesn't matter. You have one too," -100. Then, the big question. She asks, "Does this dress make me look fat?" You hesitate, -10. You reply, "Where?" -35. You reply, "No. I think it's your butt," -100. That might help you a little bit.

Love is given in obedience to Christ, not in response to our spouse's performance. I know for me one of the things I heard before we were married is this idea of a 50/50 partnership. I learned real quick this is not a partnership. It's not a 50/50 deal. It's 100 percent. It's not conditioned on our wife's performance.

During our dark years (I call them our dark years of marriage, the years from five to twelve), there were a lot of awful things that happened between me and Lucina and the ways we engaged in acts of disobedience. Even now, some things will happen, ways she irritates me, and I will want to withdraw love just to teach her a lesson, to try to help her. It's not about withdrawing love. It's not about their performance.

One of the things that really helped me in this realization was when I reflected on the fact that when I get to heaven, God is going to ask me, "Kyle, how did you love Lucina?" I'm going to want to say, "Well, God, you know she is very headstrong. You know she's very opinionated, and she can be overbearing." God is going to say, "Man, don't tell me about her strengths. I created her. How did you love your wife?"

I'm going to say, "Well, God, you know the things that happened during that seven-year period, and the ways we both left our first love and some of the awful things that happened." God is going to say, "Hey, don't tell me about her sin. I sent my Son to die for her sin. I'm asking you, 'How did you love your wife?'" Those are the questions, guys, we're going to have to answer and speak to.

Love is expressed verbally and in actions. I think of it as the two As: appreciation and affirmation. Lucina does stuff all day that give me an opportunity to express appreciation…the ways she cooks dinner, and I come home and there are clothes that are folded in my drawer…just taking the time to let her know I appreciate that. Affirming her. Again, affirming the ways God has gifted her. Affirming her in her role as a mom when our kids were young. You come home and, guys, she is wacked out. Affirm the ways she has spent her day unselfishly loving our kids.

The other is letting them know verbally that you love them, and communicating that not just with, "Honey, I love you." I love you to them is spoken differently. When our kids were young, one evening Lucina looked at me, and she said, "You know, you never call me during the day." I looked at her, and I said, "Well, honey, you know I would call you if there was something I needed."

That didn't fly well, but it was her way of communicating, "You know, I just don't feel loved. You don't even think about me during the day." So, what I started to do is I would intentionally call her a couple of times a week during the day. Not with an agenda, but just say, "Honey, how's your day? What's going on? Just thinking about you."

I found, as I started to do that, then I started to have a desire to do that and just naturally would call her. It is now not uncommon for Lucina and me to talk two or three times a day. Just calling, knowing what she has going on during the day, and checking on how things are going. She had a doctor's appointment yesterday morning at 8:15, so it was an opportunity for me, at 9:30, to call and say, "Hey, what did you find out?" Love is expressed verbally.

Love involves self-denial. One of the big issues for us in the evenings after dinner was that was my time to power down. I'd help with the kids, get them bathed, would get them in bed, and I'd want to go look at the paper. I'd want to watch the game. That greatly discouraged her. I started to see where just hanging out with her after we did that…

I would do whatever she did. If she was washing baby bottles, then I'd go in there and dry them. If she was in the laundry room folding clothes, then I'd go in there and help her fold clothes. Lucina would tell you this was probably the biggest thing that rekindled our physical intimacy. It gave her a desire again to even go there, the fact that I was communicating love to her by denying what I wanted to do and doing whatever she was doing and helping her.

Love's goal is a building up and enrichment of a wife. Ephesians 5:28-30 says, "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body."

A husband's love should nourish his wife by encouraging and enabling her to grow and develop her gifts and abilities. Again, guys, know your wife's gifts and encourage those. During the week when Lucina is trying to prepare for her Wednesday morning study, it's a great opportunity for me to try and make sure she has time to be able to do that. If she asks me to help her look stuff up or find illustrations, it's a way for me to encourage her in her giftedness. Lucina is also very service/hospitality oriented. That's one of her gifts.

Over Labor Day, we were up in Oklahoma with her family. My brother-in-law has a big ol' band saw. She had that band saw out and had gone and picked up a bunch of sticks and was cutting little wood chunks with that band saw. I went in there, and I immediately knew what she was doing. She was making picture frames with those pieces of wood. I looked at her, and I thought, "What in the world are you doing? We're here to relax. It's Labor Day."

She has sawdust all over the place, and you could buy those picture frames for $5.00 at Michael's. I caught myself (but she saw my face) and realized, "She is serving and loving the women she serves with. She is making picture frames for them." It was an opportunity for me to come back and own the ways I discouraged instead of encouraged her giftedness with what she was doing.

A husband's love should cherish his wife by responding to her needs as a valued gift from God. You guys with small kids, your wife, as you know, needs adult interaction. Just making provision for her to have that. Taking the kids and let her go out and have iced tea at La Madeleine with the gals. Taking the initiative, lining up a babysitter, and having you guys go out with a couple. Again, she feels cherished by responding to her needs.

A wife feels cherished when her husband communicates with her. When I say communicate, I'm not talking about the weather. I'm talking about communicate with her by sharing what's on your heart, what's going on in your world. If your wife is home with the kids, she wants to know what's going on at your work. Share the things and the struggles that are going on with you.

We had a situation this last week where I had some conflict I had to work through on Sunday. Saturday night it was a great opportunity for me to talk through that with Lucina, role-play a little bit, and have her help me see the ways I needed to ask forgiveness and own my part of the conflict. She felt extremely cherished from the time we had working through that.

A wife feels cherished when there is romance in the relationship. Okay, guys, I didn't say, "When there is sex in the relationship." I said romance. Your wife wants to be pursued. Twelve years ago, one of the things we did was started a date night, trying to be intentional about putting the romance back in our relationship. We lined up to have a babysitter every Thursday night. Thursday night was our night to go out and do whatever. That was a time where we started to just have fun together.

Right now, a lot of times we'll go out, play tennis with friends, go to dinner, and get to interact. It's romantic for her. One of the most romantic things for Lucina is when I ask her to go to lunch. This is not calling her at five till 12:00 when I don't have anything else to do and saying, "Hey, honey, do you want to grab a bite?" It's being intentional and maybe saying something a day in advance. "Man, I'd love to take you to lunch tomorrow," and picking a place. Not saying, "Well, where do you want to go? I'll meet you," but picking a place and thinking through that. A wife wants to feel like we're pursuing her.

A wife feels cherished when her husband is trustworthy. We just had a great Sunday about porn. Guys, we were all reminded of the ways we are distracted. There are a tremendous number of distractions out there. Second Corinthians 10:5 talks about taking every thought captive and the ways it's so easy for us to get distracted and head down a path.

First Peter 5 talks about, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Guys, we are just fodder to be devoured if we don't have boundaries, and if we're not alert in the ways we protect what we see and what we do, putting boundaries.

I have a number of boundaries over the years I've developed for myself. I don't allow a woman in my office with the door closed. I don't have a woman in our house when Lucina is not there. Sometimes folks will say, "Man, isn't that a little over-the-top? I mean, come on. A 60-year-old woman comes by to drop something, and you don't let her in your house?" I say, "No." Again, it's keeping that protection.

We had a dialogue the other day. I was with one of the guys I'm in community with, and a friend of ours mentioned, "Hey, there's a gal who would like to work for you and be your secretary." His first response was, "Is she good-looking?" Then he followed that with, "Because if she is, don't have her apply, because I don't need a good-looking secretary." Again, boundaries we have.

One image I keep in my mind that some of you have heard before is from the movie The Matrix. When Neo is in the middle of the city, they're running that simulation program, and he's walking down the big city. The enemy is out there to seek and destroy him. He's very alert, and a woman in a red dress…a blond, extremely attractive…catches his eye. He locks onto her. As she walks toward him, he follows and lets his guard down. She gets right next to him, and then pulls out the weapon. Then, bang! It turns out she is the enemy. That is an image that's helpful for me.

The guys I'm in biblical community with, we are diligent to help each other, asking questions. "When is the last time you looked at a woman inappropriately?" Guys, that happens. We do that. Be able to expose it and talk through that. From time to time, we'll ask each other, "When is the last time you masturbated?"

For us, it may have been years, but that doesn't mean we just assume we're all okay, and we stop asking the questions. James 1 talks about, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." Again, it's that progression. It starts with the lust, and it ends with the death.

A wife feels cherished when her husband makes her load lighter not heavier. Guys, know your wife's schedule. If she drives carpool on Wednesday, then periodically call her and say, "Hey, honey, I'm going to pick up the kids this Wednesday so you can stay home and do what you need to do."

I used to ask Lucina in the evenings… When I was trying to learn: "What am I supposed to do? Okay. I want to take action. I want to help you. I want to make your load lighter," I'd say, "Honey, what do you want me to do?" She got so tired of me asking. One evening, she looked at me, and she said, "Do you pay any attention? Have you looked around? Do you see the things that need to be done, and you're asking me, 'Is there anything I can do?'"

I've learned not to ask that question. One of the things I do when I come home… Lucina runs the dishwasher during the day, so one of the first things I do when I get home is unload the dishwasher. I can do that. I know where the forks and the spoons… I don't know where the decorative bowls go, but I set those out and let her put those up. That's -5 points.

Lucina recycles everything. I mean, she recycles the newspaper, the cans, the plastic milk jugs, whatever it might be. I fought that for a long time, but now… Again, that communicates love to her, so I will go in and I'll empty the recycling. I'll actually put it where it's supposed to go instead of putting it out in the trash. That's a way I can encourage her.

Look around. Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." Again, making their load lighter.

A wife feels cherished when her husband prays with her. I think praying with your wife is one of the most powerful ways you can show and communicate love to her and that will communicate that you cherish her. This is one of the hardest things, I think as men, for us to do. I didn't do this for probably 15 years.

The reason I didn't, for me, was because every time I did, and every time I tried, I felt defeated. I felt discouraged. I just did not want to go there. I started to realize my discouragement and the ways I felt defeated were really rooted in my pride and the ways I wanted to perform for my wife. But Christ humbled himself.

The other thing I learned, through walking through life with friends, is praying with your wife does not mean you have to carve out 45 minutes before you go to bed and say, "Okay…" and kneel down and go through the list. Praying with your wife is just taking a minute or two minutes as things come up.

As I began to understand and learn that, one of the things I would do is I'd get Lucina, and we'd pray. I'd just say, "God, help me be the husband you want me to be for my wife. Forgive me for the ways I fall short. Amen." That would be praying with my wife. As we started to do that, a new level of intimacy was kindled for us.

Now it's not uncommon for us to pray together two or three times a day, but it's all as stuff comes up. When stuff comes up with our kids, we'll take a minute and a half and pray about that. If something is going on with her physically… You know, yesterday after the doctor's office, we got to pray, "God, continue to give us wisdom. Direct us where you would have us go for that."

A husband's love should be expressed as he seeks to more fully understand his wife. "You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life…" And then the exclamation. "…so that your prayers may not be hindered." I love this verse because it's a way God puts an exclamation point on the fact that, "Guys, if you don't do this then, by the way, it's going to affect your relationship with me." "…so that your prayers may not be hindered."

A wife feels understood when her husband considers her needs, values, and preferences. Guys, be a study of your wife. Notice what she likes. Notice what her preferences are. When she goes to a restaurant, notice what she likes to order, the kind of movies she likes to go to, the kind of clothes, the kind of earrings she likes.

One of the ways I used to discourage Lucina was two days before her birthday, I'd come in. I'd say, "Honey, what do you want for your birthday?" She would tell me, and I would go buy it. I would wrap it up. I would give it to her and say, "Surprise! It's your birthday." She would open it up, and say, "Oh, wow. Isn't that great?"

Our wives tell us every week what they want for their birthday, if we'll listen and notice. "Oh, I like those earrings." Just being with them. I have a horrible memory, and so any time she says anything, I write it down because I know I'm going to forget. It's funny because our kids… Our kids are in high school. They're a sophomore and junior in high school.

They know how much and have seen how much that encourages Lucina, and they will now tell me, "Hey, Dad, Mom and I were shopping, and she mentioned this." They couldn't be more for me in the ways I love her. Audrey, the other day, called me and said, "Hey, Dad, Mom got her hair cut, so when you come in, notice her hair is cut." It's great having kids in high school.

Guys, know your wife's body. Their bodies operate differently than our bodies. Every month, they go through a cycle, and it affects their personality. It affects they ways they interact with us. Know, be sensitive to that, understand it. Lucina is about a year and a half into menopause. I didn't know what menopause was.

I thought menopause was the woman's version of a midlife crisis for a man. I didn't realize the physical stuff that was going on. I got on the Internet and read about menopause and learned what hot flashes were and learned what dryness meant. I kind of knew what it meant, but I educated myself on all that. Men, know and understand her body.

A wife feels understood when her husband listens without trying to fix her problems. Okay. If Lucina were here grading me, I would still get a D-minus on this one. This one is really hard for me. A couple of weeks ago, Lucina woke up (we got up early), she walked across the bedroom, and she tripped twice. She was dragging her leg.

I said, "Honey, what's wrong?" She said, "Well, I can't move my foot. From the knee down, it's numb." I said, "Well, did you sleep on it wrong?" "No." "Well, what did you do last night?" My wife is sitting there upset because she can't move her foot, and I'm diagnosing the problem. I'm being the doctor. I caught myself and thought, "You know what? She wants me to hold her, hug her, listen, pray for her, and say, 'Honey, I am so sorry.'" Just listen to the way she's communicating. It was a great reminder for me.

That night, she got home, and she had had some conflict that evolved, kind of came out, of the women's study. Some things happened, and she had to work through some things. She starts telling me this story. "This happened, and I got this email." I launch in, and I say, "Well, honey, here's what you need to do. Here's how you need to handle conflict when it happens like that."

She's sitting there very politely listening to me, and then she says, "Can I tell you how this all got resolved?" Again, I launched in, just assuming, "Hey, it's a problem to fix. Let me help you." It had all been fixed. She was just sharing her heart about what happened that day. Just listen, understand, identify, comfort, and pray.

Labor Day, when we were with her family, I was tired (which is no excuse), and she said, "Hey, you're being irritable to my family." When she said that, I immediately started to explain to her why I was not being irritable. "Honey, I love your family. What do you mean?" Again, it was like, "Are you listening?" This is something I need to be reminded of every day.

One of the ways I thought I could help you guys so you could benefit from my 23-plus years of marriage is to help you understand what some words mean that women use. We're going to walk through some words women use.

First of all, fine. This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right, and you need to shut up. Never use fine to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.

Five minutes. This is a half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it's an even deal, an even trade.

Nothing. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Nothing is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. Nothing usually signifies an argument that will last five minutes and end with fine.

Loud sigh. This is not actually a word, but it is a nonverbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here arguing with you over nothing.

Thanks. A woman is thanking you. Don't faint. Just say, "You're welcome."

Thanks a lot. This is different from thanks. A woman will say, "Thanks a lot," when she is ticked off at you, and it signifies that you have offended her in a callous way and will be followed by the loud sigh. Be careful not to ask what is wrong. After the loud sigh, she will only tell you, "Nothing." So those might help you in the ways you listen.

The second aspect of our role as a husband is to lead like a servant. Leadership in marriage is based on divine placement, not superior abilities. "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body," Ephesians 5:23. This is an organizational statement. It's not about rank or superiority. It's about our role and our responsibility.

Leadership in marriage is based on Christ's example not society's example. "…rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant," Mark 10:42-43. It's not about control. It's about serving. It's about leading as a servant.

Philippians 2:5-7: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Again, how did Christ lead? He emptied himself, took the form of a bondservant. He served.

Leadership includes providing for the needs of your family. First Timothy 5:8: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." What are the needs of our family? A husband should sharpen his skills of godly stewardship.

Guys, when it comes to financial stewardship, lead out here. It's a great opportunity for you to lead. Have a budget. Live within a budget. Have a plan for your family that you sit down and work through with your wife of how you're going to get out of debt and live debt free. Live below your means, and then make decisions as a family that reflect how you decided you're going to live.

You guys who are newly married or married without kids, or you guys who are not married yet, if you have a plan for your wife eventually being home with your kids, then you'd better start from day one with that plan. If you don't, you get to the point where, all of a sudden, your wife is pregnant, and you're living in a way, financially, where you stewarded your resources such that your wife has to continue to work. Plan ahead.

A husband should be aware of the needs of his wife and children. They need you in their lives. Todd talked about this last week. One of the greatest counsels I got when Lucina got pregnant is a 65-year-old man who I worked with took me aside and said, "Look. I want to tell you something and help you with something I did not do but I now see and wish I had done, and stress to you the importance of doing that. That is to set a time every night where you and your family have dinner together."

Make that a nonnegotiable. If you are not going to be there, then work through that with your wife, but assume that's what you're going to do. It's not just about having dinner with your family every night, but use that time purposefully to find out what's going on with your kids. Let that be a family time. Invest in them.

Decide from a travel standpoint the time you're going to have, the number of evenings you want to be home, and then make decisions that reflect that. Don't let your work and demands of travel dictate how many nights a week you're going to be home. Be proactive and take care of the needs of your family.

Todd mentioned the parenting conference. It's a great opportunity for you guys to be there. For me, I'm looking forward to it because we're in a new stage. We're parenting our kids out of the nest, and so it's a whole new phase. I've never done that before. There's great value in learning from others the wisdom God has for us in parenting.

Leadership involves taking the initiative in meeting needs. When Audrey was 2 years old, we were up with Lucina's family in Oklahoma, and we were raking leaves in their backyard. Her parents have a swimming pool in the back, and the kids were playing in the leaves. All of a sudden, I realized Audrey was not around.

I couldn't see her. I saw her brother, and she was not in the leaf pile. My eyes zeroed in, and I sprinted to that swimming pool. I looked over, and there's my 2-year-old daughter upside down with her head under water. I dive in, and I grab her and pull her out. She's just stunned. Her eyes are huge, and she's in semi-shock.

That image has always stuck with me, dealing with the realities that if I am not proactive in the ways I engage with my daughter, the ways I nourish and cherish her, the ways I interact with her, the ways I spend time with her, then that is no different than me running over to the swimming pool, seeing her upside down, and just leaving her. Guys, take every opportunity. Your kids and your wife need you.

Leadership involves providing for your wife's spiritual needs. We talked about this. A husband leads his wife spiritually through selfless service. We talked about some practical ways you can do that. A husband leads his wife spiritually by modeling godly character. For me, modeling godly character… This is part of what we do a lot of times in the evening when we're all together for dinner, being authentic, being transparent.

I'm in the midst of transitioning within our business for what I'm doing. I've done the same thing pretty much for 20 years, and I'm transitioning to do some other things. I'm feeling real insecure in some of the ways I'm venturing out, and it's been great for Lucina and me to process that together and being honest about how I'm feeling.

It's been great for our kids to get to be a part of that process, being able to pray for me, and know what's going on in my life, know they have a dad who is imperfect. They have a dad who is insecure. In the same way, I'm praying for them in some of their insecurities. A husband leads by modeling godly character. One of the other things I do is we'll talk about the Join the Journey passage, and the things God is teaching us, for those of you who are in the midst of reading through the Bible with us and what's going on there.

A husband leads his wife spiritually by regularly praying with her. We talked about that. Guys, this is overwhelming. I can tell you. It continues to be overwhelming to me. One of the things I do is try to see ways I'm falling short and come up with one or two practical things. What I'd encourage for you to do is, as you go through this and go back and read through it, look for ways you can do one or two things and take new ground in the ways you love and lead your wives and the roles God has for us. Let me pray for us.

Father, I thank you for the ways you give us direction. You show us where life is, that there is fulfillment, joy, and excitement in marriage. I thank you for the ways you have rekindled my marriage, the ways romance and sexual intercourse for me and Lucina right now are greater than they've ever been, the results of cherishing and nourishing, the ways that spurs me on to love her more.

Father, I pray that you continue to show us. I thank you that we don't have to go it alone, that you give us guidance through your Word, that you give us guidance through your Spirit in the ways you stir and direct us, and you give us guidance through the body of Christ and having other men who can sharpen us and whom we can walk through life with and grow us in the ways we're loving our wives. Thank you for the gift they are and thank you for your Son and the gift he is. In Christ's name, amen.


About 'The Real Men's Club, Volume 2'

(Fall 2005) There is a different Men's Club in town - a place where men of strength and integrity are willing to face the truth even if it involves pain from present or past troubled relationships or circumstances. At this club there are men who are willing to live their lives with honor. Men who are responding to a noble call. A call to live for a something greater than their own pleasure, prominence or gain.