I stood in awe in the magnificent Musée du Louvre in Paris, transfixed by the treasures of art. “What a privilege to be able to admire such masterpieces,” I told my husband.
I scrutinized each painting and sculpture. My traveling companions wanted to shuffle quickly through the museum, but I lingered and stared, scrutinizing each piece.
One painting captured my attention. It wasn’t da Vinci’s tiny Mona Lisa or another familiar painting. I was intrigued by the rich colors in Paolo Veronese’s The Wedding at Cana. As an Italian Renaissance work, it likely didn’t represent the actual Jewish Cana wedding (John 2:1-12), but it was so beautiful. I couldn’t help but admire it.
The more I studied each artistic masterpiece in the Louvre, the more I valued them. I understood why they were cherished. Then, arriving home, I kept praising the art, wishing everyone could see the magnificent artwork I was privileged to enjoy.
I gained a new perspective about the word “admiration” there—a perspective I’ve since applied to my marriage.
I learned three ways to better admire my husband.
1. Focus on your husband intently.
In our fast-paced culture, about the only things we focus on are computer screens, cell phones, and TV screens, but a marriage can dramatically improve when we learn to focus on our man.
What does that “focus” look like?
SEE ALSO: 4 Practical Ways to Honor Your Husband
Here’s what it looks like for me. I recently admired my husband’s manly body. I smiled as I watched him in ministry. I watched him parent with wisdom. I observed his responses to people, and how he modeled Christlikeness. I watched him work hard—so grateful for all the sweat equity he invested in our home.
Much better than a quick glance, an intent look will always give us a truer picture of the one we love. The psalmist grew to love and appreciate the Lord more as he gazed on His beauty (Psalm 27:4b), and in the same way, when wives expend time and energy focusing intently on their husbands, they’ll begin to see things they might have missed otherwise.
And believe me, husbands notice the focus! They love to be admired. It’s in their DNA. Expressing admiration and gratitude to a man are like saying “I love you” to a woman.
2. Respect and value what makes him so unique.
While it is wrong to make an idol of a spouse, wives can attribute worth or value to their husbands by responding to their leadership and showing proper respect (Ephesians 5:22-24; 5:33). I ask the Lord for a willing heart to honor my husband. It’s a choice.
The respect husbands long for is not based on performance, but rather on their God-given role in the home. Respect from a wife encourages a man and gives him confidence. It can even kindle fresh love in a struggling relationship.
There are men who have highly-destructive habits and a wife’s respect naturally diminishes. We can’t take sinful behavior lightly, and there are biblical means to deal with these situations.
But in general, all of us are selfish sinners. None of us have perfect track records. I’ve learned how important mercy, forgiveness and grace play out in every marriage (Ephesians 4:32).
All men and women are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and everyone is uniquely fashioned for God’s purposes and delight.
When I take time to recognize my husband’s unique creation, I discover characteristics that make him attractive and perfect for me. This is part of the adventure of marriage—discovering and describing what makes our spouse so wonderful, just as Solomon’s bride described her “beloved” (Song of Solomon 5:15-16).
Looks can change, so opportunities to admire physical traits may lessen over time (although most men “season” better than women). But admiration is not just about the way a man looks. We can also see, admire and value worthy attitudes and actions.
His reputation for integrity. His kindness. His godliness. The way he leads, protects and provides. Record each trait in your mind and heart. Ponder them. Value what makes your husband such a unique “work of art.”
3. Praise him in private and in public.
It’s one thing to notice and ponder things to admire; it’s another to intentionally praise them.
Wise wives will look for opportunities to let their husbands know what they are doing well.
I adored my husband during the first precious years of marriage, and I told him why I admired him so. But with the passing of time, especially as children came along, I stopped adoring and started “reporting,” telling my pastor-husband all the ways he was missing the mark.
Then one Sunday, a woman in our church gushed about my husband’s kindness. Another praised his preaching. Another, his friendly smile. I glanced over at my husband and knew it was all true.
Though I’d never criticized my husband openly to people, God saw my heart. But that day, through others’ eyes, I saw my partner as I hadn’t seen him in a long time. And I saw how my failure to admire and respect him was not a healthy part of our marriage.
The Lord crushed my pride and I asked my husband’s forgiveness for my selfish focus. I started encouraging and admiring him with fresh “eyes” of understanding.
When a wife has true respect in her heart, she is motivated to generate life-giving words of admiration and praise. She will speak well of her husband in private and public.
As a wife testifies about her husband’s character, others will understand how uniquely gifted he is, and they will be more likely to admire him too. The Proverbs 31 woman’s husband was “known in the gates” (31:23), and I’ve always wondered if his wise wife had a part in his renown.
There are plenty of people who will thoughtlessly or cruelly try to discourage, demoralize or destroy our men. Husbands don’t appreciate wives who nag and constantly remind them of their failings. They know.
Instead of using “sandpaper-ish,” disheartening words (Proverbs 21:23), I choose to allow the Lord to work off my husband’s rough edges while I focus instead on understanding, kindness and expressing helpful words that build him up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
He is, after all, a masterpiece!
A Prayer to be an Admiring Wife
Father God, help us wives understand how we can admire our husbands in ways that will encourage them and please You. Help us respect them as an act of obedience. Bless our homes for Your glory, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, and also publishes LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn and writes for Crosswalk.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with the International School Project.
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