Having a daughter has taught me more about being a good husband than I ever thought possible. The idea is simple: What if I saw my wife through God’s eyes? How would I change how I treated her? Loved her? Cared for her? As you can imagine, seeing your spouse through God’s eyes changes everything. Everything.
This post will hopefully show you just a few of the ways having a daughter has taught me how to love my wife well.
Our Fierce Little Girl
Our daughter, Adelaide, (we call her Dela) is almost two; she’s so much like her mother it’s shocking. She’s smart and opinionated. She’s inquisitive and tough. Sweet and beautiful inside and out.
We have this evening routine that sums up her personality perfectly: Just after I change her diaper for the night and we put on her pajamas, she grabs my index fingers with her little hands and, with my help, she stands up tall on her changing table. Then I’ll point to a nearby wall where there’s a drawing of a sprightly little girl in a cape and a mask.
“What do we say, baby girl?” I ask. She perks up as I start the saying, “And though she be but little…”
“…She is FIERCE!” she exclaims.
She always says her part with a slight growl in her voice and both arms flexed upward. It’s so stinkin’ cute I can barely stand it!
I love being her dad, no doubt about it. I figured I would…
What I didn’t anticipate, however, is how much I’d learn about being a loving husband by raising a little girl.
I can’t help but wonder what kind of man my little girl will marry. I hope he loves her the right way…God’s way. I hope he’s an even better man than I am. I hope he cares for her heart well, speaks kindly to her and honors her with the utmost respect. Then…then I’ll feel like she’s in good hands.
As these hopes materialize I’m lead to the next conclusion any marriage writer would reach: This is how God wants me to love His daughter—my wife.
Wow…WHAT a paradigm shift. Here are a few ways that perspective has changed how I (try to) love my wife well:
5 Things Having a Daughter Has Taught Me About Loving My Wife
1: Speak to her kindly, patiently
Having a daughter: Dela is fierce but she’s also very tender. If I react impatiently toward her for accidentally knocking a cup off the table, she get’s her feelings hurt. It’s in those moments that I see just how soft her heart is, and it’s deeply convicting to me in how I talk to my wife—who is God’s little girl.
Being a husband: Most marital communication breaks down when one of us loses patience and speaks unkindly. I can get impatient with Selena. That’s not her fault, it’s mine. Even if it is her fault, I still need to be patient. That’s how I’d want a man to love my daughter, that’s how I should love my bride. That’s how Christ loves us.
2: Love her respectfully & purely
Having a daughter: One of the things I love about Dela is how innocent she is and how the whole world is new to her. She’s so bright-eyed about each little thing she sees. I never want her sense of innocence to be tarnished, nor her curiosity stifled. I want her to stay innocent and sweet, and I want people to treat her with similar innocence and sweetness. God wants that for us too, but we sin and things change. Innocence only happens as we’re redeemed and renewed in Christ, by his grace alone. I hope my daughter is loved by a man governed by grace, who acts in love that is motivated by Christ.
Being a husband: How can I keep my love pure? Many ways…but the topic that comes to mind regarding the “innocence” of my wife is sex. I must pursue my wife with integrity and fight to keep our marriage bed holy. This means that I not let popular culture (or pornography) dictate what sex is or what beauty looks like. It means I seek my wife’s soul first, not just her body. And it means I communicate with her to build a sex life that is uniquely ours, ultimately enjoyable and pure.
3: Listen to her intently
Having a daughter: Dela has lots to say, most of it sounds like nonsense (for now). I’ve realized that most of what she says has meaning, it’s just that I haven’t discovered it yet. If I stop what I’m doing, kneel down and listen intentionally, I hear what she’s saying with little confusion. Not only that, but we connect on a deeper level. That’s the kind of dialogue I want my daughter to have with her future husband: intentional and intimate.
Being a husband: I definitely don’t mean to compare my wife’s communication to that of a 2-year-old; they’re obviously very different! What I do mean to say is that I don’t always listen well. I get distracted. I need to stop whatever I’m doing and listen intentionally to my wife’s words and her heart. Only then can I engage with her emotionally.
4: Engage with her emotionally
Having a daughter: When our little girl speaks, she wants my attention but she also wants my interest. She’s looking to engage with me emotionally—whether she’s talking about Minnie’s Bowtique or the “jeeefish” (jellyfish) she saw off the dock. Engaging with her means taking genuine interest in what she says. Love is not passive, love is active. And as a father, one of the best ways I can actively love my daughter is by purposefully engaging with her world. And I’d want her husband to love her the same way when she’s much (much) older.
Being a husband: Again…I’m not comparing Selena to our toddler, but my heart’s inclinations as a father and a husband. It sounds weird, but sometimes husbands (me included) can become passive about things that should really matter to them. God. Family. Where to live and why. What school to send the kids to. Family priorities (like dinner time, prayer and devotions). As a husband, I must not be passive or indifferent about the important things; I must engage in my role as a husband and lead lovingly in the process.
5: Cherish her deeply
Having a daughter: Last night I sat and read Dela a book; she had her little head resting against my cheek. I could smell her hair and hear her voice as she described each page. I never wanted the moment to end. I cherish her. I cherish every moment with her. It’s because I value her so much that I want to see her deeply treasured by her future husband. Most importantly, God cherishes his daughter as well as my bride. He wants me to cherish her dearly as well.
Being a husband: In marriage it’s easy to grow too familiar with each other. This can lead to lazy communication and, at worst, passive indifference. I must stir my affections for my wife and remind myself of the treasure she is. I must remember that she’s truly a gift from God, and that he’s entrusted me with her heart.
Having a daughter has shown me a microscopic glimpse of what God must feel toward his daughters—namely, my wife. I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface on what I have to learn.
I’ll gladly take the lessons as they come, and I’m thankful for the loving instruction of a Father who’s patient with me.
About the Author: Ryan Frederick is a husband, outdoorsman, writer, reader and a guy desperately in need of Jesus. See more from Ryan on his blog Fierce Marriage or Facebook. Learn how to connect daily with Christ and your spouse with his new 30-day devotional Two as One.
**This post appeared originally on FierceMarriage.com.