Before I got married, I read a lot of books about the relationship I was about to enter. Most of the books had a very cut-and-dried approach to marriage. Husbands were strong-willed, even domineering, and wives served their husbands joyfully and without question. It seemed straightforward enough.
Then I got married.
My husband was not like the men in the books. He was not strong-willed – in fact, finding out his preferences was a full-time job! My quiet husband wanted to put my preferences before his own. He was not pushy or domineering. He did not insist on his own way or expect me to knuckle under to whatever plan he had for our family. You would think I would be thrilled to have such a gentle, kind husband, but it threw me for a loop. I had no frame of reference for biblical marriage WITHOUT a dominant husband. I didn’t know what being a “helper” looked like with a husband who didn’t say exactly how I could help him. I didn’t know what submission looked like (a concept greatly stressed in the books I read) when my husband didn’t expect it day to day.
Five years into this marriage, I have learned much about being wife to a gentle man. I’ve discovered there are MANY women married to men like this: Men who are less likely to speak up and step in, but who lead in their own way: behind the scenes, with dirty hands and a servant’s heart. This is not to say that extroverted or Type-A men can’t also be gentle! But many of us are married to men who don’t fit the caricature of biblical manhood some marriage books describe.
I now know things I wish I had known at the beginning, and while I have a VERY long way to go, I thought I’d share a few thoughts for other brides whose husbands are the quieter kind.
Your Gentle Man Needs Your Faith in Him
Your husband may not vocalize his goals or dreams. He might not even HAVE that many goals and dreams, or they might be quite simple – like reading his Bible daily, working out, or starting a new hobby. If you move too fast you might miss these simple things that are important to him. One of the best ways you can help him, then, is not to come up with hobbies or to-do’s for him, but to believe in his ability to do what HE desires to do.
Gentle men tend to be extremely supportive of their wives’ goals and dreams, unquestioningly standing behind her abilities and talents. The least we can do is support them with the same loyalty they give us!
Your Gentle Man Wants Your Kindness
I’m a very strong personality and my husband and I are opposites on absolutely every personality test (God is funny!). My husband’s gentleness is one of the things I admire most about him, but it also makes him quite sensitive to tone. Over the course of our marriage I have heard many times, “It’s not what you say… it’s how you say it.” Remember: If your husband and gentle, kind, and quiet, he will most likely appreciate a similar tone when you speak to him. This doesn’t mean changing your personality (he married you for a reason!), but taking into account HIS personality, especially during confrontation. He is far more likely to receive what you are saying if you approach him in a kind manner.
Your Gentle Man Loves Your Presence
Now, I do believe there are different love languages and not everyone is “quality time”. But I consistently find that our gentle men like our presence, even (or especially – hah!) if we aren’t talking. Just sitting with him, reading, watching a show, engaging in his hobbies, speaks volumes to him about how much you appreciate him as a person.
For us Type-A ladies, this can be really hard. We have to set aside “productivity” to be productive in another area: The cultivation of our most important human relationship. I often tell myself that “helping” my husband means helping him the way HE recognizes help. And my quiet, kind husband recognizes help most through my presence in his life – not bustling around doing another set of dishes.
There is much more I could say, but these three things alone have helped my marriage immensely. But perhaps the most pivotal change in my marriage didn’t happen between me and Josh, but between me and God. I allowed God to break the boxes I’d built in my mind; boxes for marriage, for my husband, and for me. I allowed God to show me how biblical marriage can look very different depending on the couple. My best marriage is found – not by reading another book – but by following His guidance for loving others. Starting with my gentle man.
Phylicia Masonheimer is an author, speaker, and founder of Driven Women. She teaches strong-hearted women how to follow Christ’s call in work, home, and the world. She writes about the Bible, productivity, and sexuality on her website, and her book on biblical sex can be found here: Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had. She lives with her husband and daughters in northern Michigan.