Our Submission Series: Do We Know What it Means to Serve our Husbands?

by | Sep 26, 2018 | Marriage, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 35 comments

Serving our husbands should be a proactive and intentional way of living each day. Let's talk about what that looks like and why!

Have you ever really studied your husband?

I mean really studied him? Do you know what makes him tick? Do you know what makes him discouraged, and what makes him feel like he can take on the world? Do you know what his biggest fear is, and what his biggest success is? Do you know his dreams, his goals, his worries?

My theme this month for Wednesdays has been looking at what submission in marriage really means. Up until now I’ve looked at what it DOESN’T mean–submission doesn’t mean blind obedience; submission doesn’t mean in the case of ties he wins; it doesn’t mean that we follow our husbands over God. And those who believe these things don’t understand what Jesus says about marriage.

Today I want to wrap up the series with a challenge that I first issued a few years ago, but it summarized everything I’ve been leading up to, so I want to run it again. Can we become students of our husbands? I don’t mean students in terms of him teaching us something (though that’s likely a part of it); I mean students more in the way that Thomas Edison was a student of science. He ate science, breathed science, lived science, and was always trying to figure it out.

I believe that kind of focused study of our husbands is what God is calling us to.

Let me explain. In Ephesians 5:21-22, we read this:

(21) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (22) Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

As I talked about last week, often people begin the passage reading from verse 22, but actually, verse 22 doesn’t make sense in the Greek without verse 21, because the verb “submit” is only in verse 21; it’s not in verse 22. In Greek, verse 22 literally says, “Wives, to your husbands…” That’s a Greek device where it implies the previous verb also applies to this sentence, which means that Paul meant verse 22 as a continuous thought with verse 21, not as two separate thoughts, as modern Bibles often portray it.

So what does this mean for us?

What Submission Really Means: A Better Interpretation of Ephesians 5

First, everyone is to submit to one another.

We are all to “put ourselves under” others, “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:4). We’re to put other people’s needs ahead of our own. We’re to bless others. We’re to love others. We’re to serve others.

Servanthood is to be the hallmark of our lives, just as it was the hallmark of Jesus’ life–“the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” (Mark 10:45). So women submit to men, men submit to women, employees submit to employers, employers submit to employees, neighbours submit to neighbours, because we are all to serve one another and bless one another and look out for their best.

Submission is simply about laying down one’s life and serving others–even if there’s nothing simple about that.

That is how we are to treat one another. Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentThat’s why submission in these verses isn’t about decision-making, because then verse 21 would make no sense. Submission is simply about laying down one’s life and serving others–even if there’s nothing simple about that. And that makes submission so much bigger than decision making, because it isn’t something we do on the rare occasion that we actually disagree about something. It’s something we do each and every day, all the time. It’s an attitude of living to bless another. As I shared in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, this is actually a much taller order. This is an attitude and a life of service, and it’s beautiful.

Are you GOOD or are you NICE?

Because the difference matters!

God calls us to be GOOD, yet too often we’re busy being nice. And sometimes, in marriage, that can actually cause problems to be even more entrenched.

What if there’s a better way?

(Incidentally, I don’t know why people get so upset when I mention that not just wives are asked to submit. Why is that so threatening? Paul asked everyone to submit out of reverence for Christ–out of reverence for what a servant He was, and we are to walk in His steps.)

But wives are also asked to be more specific–to submit to our own husbands

Here’s the thing, though: while we may bless everyone and serve everyone in the abstract, we’re asked specifically to do it for our husbands. So we may be kind to strangers, we may buy coffee for a co-worker, we may listen to a friend as she unburdens to us, but these things are largely done in the moment. God asks us, though, to be intentional about serving our husbands.

You can’t serve everyone in the same way. After all, we have limited energy and limited time. And God isn’t asking us to do everything for everybody. Our attitude towards everyone should be to serve and bless them, yes. But with our husbands–it goes beyond that. With them, we are to be intentional.

To me, that means making a plan. I can get easily get wrapped up in my work or in what I want to accomplish this week. But as I’m looking at my goals for the week, one of the first things I’m trying to train myself to ask is, “how can I be a help to Keith this week?” What does he have on this week that could be a stressor for him, and how can I help to alleviate that? What are his goals for this week–with health, with his spiritual life, with his work life–and how can I be a part of helping him meet those goals?

Even writing this I’m feeling convicted that I don’t know the answers to some of that (I don’t know what he’s trying to accomplish in his work life this week!). And I really should. Because of all people on the face of this earth, the one that I am called first and foremost to serve–before my kids, before any boss, before my parents–is my husband.

Submitting to our husbands: do we study them so that we know how to serve them? Submitting is about intentionally serving!

Friendship is not a substitute for serving

I am all for pursuing a friendship with our husbands so that we feel close to them, but sometimes I think that we women aim for friendship, thinking that this is the pinnacle of success in marriage. When we feel close, like we are laughing and doing things together, then everything else is okay. And certainly friendship should be one of our big aims. We are to keep spending time together and preventing that drift. But friendship helps us to feel better about the relationship. It isn’t an other-focused thing. 

It’s absolutely essential, and very good, but it isn’t everything. God also asks us to invest in our husbands’ lives, and to serve them. We could be having fun with our husbands and laughing with our husbands and spending a ton of time with our husbands without actually serving them intentionally.

(Shoot. Now I feel convicted again. I guess that means this must be a good post when it’s going to change how I act towards my husband, too!)

A few years ago I wrote a post about why my husband I grew apart for the previous three years (and I shared this story a lot in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage). It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with our marriage; it was just that we were both busy, and frequently working in different cities, and
we weren’t sharing anything together anymore.

Women submit to men, men submit to women, employees submit to employers, employers submit to employees, neighbours submit to neighbours, because we are all to serve one another.

(Click here to tweet this quote)

As I think about that time, though, God’s been starting to reveal another layer to it. During those years we still had fun together when we were together (though that wasn’t often enough). But the big thing was that we were leading separate lives.My emotional energy was being poured into my daughters and my work, and his into his work, and I wasn’t serving him. I wasn’t intentionally thinking about what he needed from me. We were still friends, but I wasn’t being proactive.

When we’re proactive, we pay attention to what’s happening in his life. More importantly, perhaps, we ask God to show us what He is doing in our husband’s life so that we can participate. We get excited about the things that excite him. We think about ways to bless him. We plan how to help him reach his goals.

Persevere in loving your spouse by remembering that your husband will continuously be changing by God's grace.

If we aren’t intentional about how we can bless our husbands, then I
think we’re missing out on God’s command to submit to our husbands.

This is the big thing in marriage that God asks us to do: to be intentional about serving our husbands. We’re to be our husband’s biggest cheerleaders, and the “suitable helper”, or “necessary ally”, to come alongside him and help him. We can’t do that if we only get around to thinking about him once the kids are asleep and the dishes are done. We can only do that when he is the primary person we think about and pay attention to. And that means getting our eyes off of ourselves and our own hurts (without enabling abuse, of course), and thinking about him. In doing so, we change the dynamic of the marriage and make it far more likely that we’ll feel close.

So let me ask you today: how have you been more intentional about serving your husband? What practical tips can you give us? Let’s help each other in the comments to live this out!

More in our Submission Series:

And check out 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–which has all of this and more in it about submission! If you’ve enjoyed this series, and want to go deeper beyond pat answers and into what living for Christ and serving radically for Christ looks like, then 9 Thoughts can help. Check it out here!

Thank You to Our Sponsor, Ultimate Intimacy App

I just want to say a big thank you to our sponsor, Ultimate Intimacy App, whose founders are such a big supporter of this blog. I absolutely LOVE having a sponsor that I can get behind 110%–because they created the app that I’ve always wanted to create! It’s such a great boost to your sex life. It has this awesome game that will make sex more fun. It has an encyclopedia of sexual positions so that you can have it choose a few for you to try, or you can search for some using different criteria. And it has lots of great resources to help YOU make sex awesome. Part of serving your husband, I believe, is dedicating yourself to becoming enthusiastic about sex. And I really think this game makes that easier. The Ultimate Intimacy app has such a strong component of growing your emotional intimacy, too, with conversation starters, romantic prompts, and more. The free version is fun, but with the paid version (which is still under $10), the game really opens up, and you get access to so much more. Read my whole review of it here, or check it out on iTunes or Google Play!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. jon

    Comments on this post should be interesting 😉

  2. Bethany

    Hi Sheila! I have a question that I am hoping you can shed some light on. I am generally really quite good about this – studying my husband and trying to anticipate needs. However, I’ve found recently that I’ve hit a roadblock doing it, because I find myself constantly trying to forsee ALL stressors and issues and then trying to alleviate them, and that leaves me in the position of taking responsibility for my husband’s emotions and my own, which is super unhealthy and leaves me feeling drained and kind of resentful because I end up shouldering my entire family’s emotional burden and then still have to express all of my needs explicitly before they are met. So, how do I be a student and anticipate needs without wearing myself out and taking on all the emotional labor in the relationship? Because if there is one thing that is not helpful to my husband, it’s having a resentful and tired wife.

    • Tjajka

      I’m not Sheila, but I think two things:
      1. Dońt be a perfectionist. No one can meet another person´s needs in all matters. Dońt make this another project to add to your long list. Sheila´s point is to make a priority in your mind, not another project with goals.
      2. I personally think that it´s not good for any person to have all their needs met without even having to express them. Sure you can antipate some of your partner´s needs and meet them (I know my husband hates a full sink in the morning, so when possible I try to do the breakfast dishes before going to work so that they are gone before he wakes up (shift work, so he usually gets up late), but not all of them. It´s healthy for people to figure out their own needs and to be able to express them in a proper manner. Someone who gets whatever he needs or wants doesn´t mature properly and also doesn´t get to feel as loved as you do when you express a need and then see your partner be happy to help you with it. So don´t try to figure everything out on your own. Just have a prepared mindset.
      Sheila might not agree, I don´t know, but that´s my two cents.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Great thoughts, Tjajka!

    • sarah

      Oh, great question. Somewhat similar to mine. I too feel like I am a natural at being a student of my husband. In some ways, I feel I would be a great ally for him, because he’s a bid ideas/dreamer person and I am very practical about assessing risk and getting things done. Yet whenever he has a big idea and I say “That’s a great idea, I think we need to do these three things to make it happen.” or “That’s a great idea, but I think we should wait on it” it’s like he doesn’t believe I have his best interest at heart and often disregards my practical suggestions. This leads to me feeling frustrated because I don’t get to use my gifts to better our life and I also believe it has led to some pretty big financial hardships in his business. At this point, I feel burnt out from this pattern occurring over and over again, but I don’t do a lot to anticipate the needs anymore, because my input haven’t been welcome in the past. That sort of confirms in his mind, I think, that I don’t have his best interest at heart. I have wrestled immensely with the idea of submission. Even if it doesn’t mean blindly agreeing to everything he says, but more what you describe in your post, Sheila. I still try hard to meet and anticipate his needs outside of business(because that’s where things are the most toxic for us), but business is a huge part of his life, and it’s very hard to be supportive or excited for someone’s goals when you feel that at least some of those goals or the ways of achieveing those goals are not going to improve the situation for either of us.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, Sarah, that is a tough one. I think serving your husband is also using your God-given gifts to help him in his endeavours–in this case, his business. We are, after all, “suitable” helpers, meaning that we are strong helpers that actually have something to contribute that he needs. If he doesn’t see it that way, and if his decisions are consistently putting you into financial harm, then I’d really recommend getting a marriage mentor couple or a counsellor who can help you through some of these landmines. Find a couple where they are good with money, and maybe even do have their own businesses, and see if that can give him some much needed perspective.

    • Bethany

      Thanks! I am a huge perfectionist (problem I’m working on) and love the idea of “having a prepared mindset.” That sounds like a really helpful way to think of it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, great question! I think the thing that I tend to focus on is doing one thing today–what one thing can I do today to make his life easier?
      The other thing is that you really can’t have a lopsided relationship. If you’re turning yourself inside out for him, but he’s not doing it for you, then you’re not really encouraging him to look more Christlike. You’re actually allowing him to become selfish. And that’s not good, either.
      When there’s an imbalance in your relationship, that’s really not healthy. But if it’s just a question of: am I looking to serve my husband? And what would that look like? It can get easier.
      The thing is, too, that serving your husband is all about doing the best for your husband. And sometimes that means doing things that point him to Jesus. It’s not making his life super easy as much as it is serving him so that he’s able to do what God has called him to do. If you do everything for him so that he watches video games, for instance, then that’s not really serving, because you’re promoting laziness. I don’t know if that makes sense, and I think I’m just rambling (I’m a little tired), but it is really multifaceted. You are totally not responsible for his feelings or his reactions at all. But I think if we can ask, “where is God taking my husband right now?” And “How can I help on that road?” then that can clarify what we should be doing–rather than a blanket “how can I make his life easier?”

      • Bethany

        Thank you! That is super helpful. Breaking things down to more specific questions is an approach that works for me in a lot of areas with my perfectionism, and I hadn’t thought to apply it here, but that’s a great idea and set of questions. Thanks!

    • Rebekah

      You and I share a similar personality trait! We went to a counselor last year and he gave us some good tools. One was the analyzation of three personality tests, including MB which Sheila has talked about. But the one you and I share is on the EPPS: “intraception: to engage in attempts to understand others and self.” It makes for the ideal friend but if we spend so much time, like you said, trying to understand everyone else, then we don’t give them time to feel those needs and communicate, like T said first. I think it can be simple, but also a good challenge to actually ask him, how can I help you today? This week? I know I read that on this or another blog. But if other ways come to mind, act on those as well. A counter full of dishes also stresses my husband so I do try to get to them. He’ll also do them sometimes and I think we’re making more effort to appreciate each other, and I am working on expressing my needs, like for quiet time, etc.
      It’s a gift that you can see what others may need, but it isn’t your job to anticipate everything.

  3. Jess

    Hi! So I completely agree with EVERYTHING you have said above. It has put into words what has been on my heart for the last few years about this topic. I do have one question though. The verse after the one about wives submitting says something to the effect of “just as the church submits to Christ in everything, wives submit to their husbands in everything”. How do the two fit together? Certain we study, serve and aim to “help” Christ (although that sounds almost wrong because Christ doesn’t need our help with anything, but you know what I mean), but we also obey him, follow his commands, he teaches us, and we do submit to him in a way that means follow him. So how does the definition of submitting to our husbands that you gave above fit into modeling Christ and the Church? Because that is where I think people go off giving a husband absolute power and making it about decision making and having the final say and basically being the center of everything (his job is more important and she exists as an extension of him, he is the one with a unique calling and hers is to help him but it doesn’t work both ways). People try to say “well we are all about Christ and he teaches us and tells us what to do and we center our lives around him and obey him” and use that as an excuse to make submission all the things you said it was not. I hope what I am asking makes sense. Please let me know if it does not and I can explain it better possibly!

    • Lydia purple

      That is a really good question to wrestle with.
      I think part of the problem here is that the relationship between Christ and the Church is far more complex and mysterious then a marriage. Marriage reflects one aspect of our relationship with Christ, but we also relate to Him as children to a father, as a friend, savior, bondservant, disciples. Yet in all these we are always free to choose, we are never forced to obey Him by means of institution. We follow His lead and obey Him in faith and with trust because we know Him. He is perfect, He is good, His love never fails, He is without fail, He is love. We can blindly follow God because of who he is, because he will not command us things to use us or abuse us. He is all powerful, yet he won‘t abuse His power. Our husbands are however flawed human beings just as we are and it would be foolish to follow as if they were actually God.
      If that makes sense I would say submission means to put loving our husbands above loving ourselves, just as when we submit to Christ we put loving Jesus above loving ourselves.

      • Samantha

        And this is why I think it is so important to focus on what the husband is being told to do as well. He is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. So when you look at the whole picture really wives and husbands are essentially being told to do the same thing just from different points of view. We are to put the other before ourselves. To submit ourselves and give ourselves up. To serve one another out of love and respect.
        However, I do believe it is important for a man’s self esteem to feel that he is actively leading (not ruling over) and caring for his family. Yes, some men abuse this desire and try to be the ruler rather than the Shepard watching over his flock. Men tend to be the more “heroic minded” sex. They crave action and I do believe they have a desire to be viewed as a source of strength and protection for their families. In other words, the Savior. I think that is why a lot of men these days seem to lack a sense of purpose and direction in their lives. They are constantly being told by belligerent feminists that men aren’t really necessary. That they aren’t really necessary to raise children. That women can do everything that men can do. Women rights are more important than men’s. Women don’t need men to protect them. Men truly need support from the women in their lives these days to remind them just how crucial they are to us and the world around us.
        Having said all that, I still don’t believe God ever intended men to be the boss in the ruling sense. But I do believe God gave men the natural desires they have so that men would be able to protect and lead their families (and others) in hard times and in dangerous situations. Somewhere along the line though this seems to have been watered down to the assumption that men are merely the “wearers of the pants” and glorified tie breakers. It really is ridiculous and men should be insulted by it. They are warriors and knights giving themselves up for their families not merely the leader of a life-long game of Simon Says.

        • Samantha

          And really this has been an important part of how I serve my husband. I make sure he knows how much I appreciate him and how much he has added to my life. And I want him to know exactly what it is that makes him a great husband so that he’ll keep on doing it. Lol One day he was fixing some stuff around the house and I told him how much I liked the fact that he was so handy and even if he didn’t know exactly how to do something, he could always figure it out. He told me later that day how good that made him feel and I could see it in his demeanor the rest of the day. His face lit up! It was a huge gift to me just getting to see him react that way. It was like Christmas came early for both of us. Lol and to think, if I had said nothing at all he would have just looked at all those tasks as boring old house work.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That’s a lovely example, Samantha! It’s amazing how much appreciation and encouragement helps a guy. He really does need it!

    • Bethany

      I love your response, Lydia!
      I really liked this question because I’ve had a really interesting time thinking about the ways in which the church submits to Christ, and generally what the relationship between Christ and the church are. It seems like a wonderful thing to contemplate, and probably not as cut-and-dry as many people make it seem when they are trying to use this verse as a grounds for subjugating women.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, as I said in my reply to Jess, I don’t think the passage can be read without the context of Ephesians 5:2. It’s about loving sacrificially. That’s the point of everything Jesus did. Let’s not move away from that, and let’s not stress something else above that, or we’ll miss the boat.
        But loving sacrifically will always be about serving someone. And the best way we serve someone is by being part of what God is doing in their lives! We’re a helper that points them to Jesus, not a servant who makes their life super easy. 🙂

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Jess! Great question.
      I think the answer comes in what the purpose was of this passage. If you look at Ephesians 5:-2, it sets the tone for the whole chapter: “Be imitators of Christ…Live in love, as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us…” Paul is talking about what love will look like, and love is sacrificial.
      That’s the point of the passage.
      Then he says, in verse 21, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”, which also sets the stage for this passage.
      So the tone here is loving and serving one another sacrificially. Paul then goes on to talk about what that will look like–wife to husband; husband to wife; children and parents; slaves and masters. The point is about loving and serving.
      But when we read the passage, we read more into it than that because in English, the word “head” has a meaning that this particular Greek word does not have. In Greek, there are two words for head. One means “head of an army” or “head of a corporation”, that kind of a connotation, but that’s NOT the word that’s used here. The word that’s used here more means “source”, as in “head of a river.” Given that the passage is all about serving, and that the instructions especially to husbands are about giving up one’s life, it’s clear that what Paul was driving home was servanthood. He could have used the Greek word that would have an authority connotation, but he deliberately didn’t.
      Yes, we obey Christ. But this passage does not use Christ as an example because we obey Christ; it uses Christ as an example because (as it says in verse 2), he loved us and gave himself up for us.
      I know you’re having real issues with your husband’s coaching job, and how he expects that it’s okay for him to spend a ton of time away from the family, and that your job is to look after the kids full-time, since he won’t be there. I think the thing to talk to him about isn’t so much what submission means, but instead to take a big step back and ask, “What does Jesus want from our marriage? What kind of parents does Jesus want us to be? How do we find Jesus’ will for our lives?” And if he just won’t talk about it, then I’d suggest getting a mentor couple that’s older and that you really respect and that you think has done family well and ask them to sit down with you. This is an important thing, and I do think it’s definitely worth talking about before you have kids.

      • Jess

        So what do I do if I can’t necessarily convince my husband of this definition of submission? Or if a lot of the people we go to church with don’t share this view. Or if his own parents didn’t live this type of submission out, but more of a man rules and woman helps way. It is ruining my relationship with my in-laws and causes problems between my husband and I. For example, my husband told me that all the decisions in marriage are his, but we can make them together. Something about that still bothers me but I understand he is trying to take responsibility. Then I find out he asked his dad whose decisions they are, and his dad said that they are the mans decisions but he should talk about things with his wife. So they are not totally domineering and controlling, but it still rubs me the wrong way, but I am considered to be prideful and not understand that the roles can be different and it doesn’t mean the people aren’t equal. I just don’t know what to do. About my husband and his parents and their views.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Jess, that is tough. Does your family live nearby? It does sound, from your previous comments, too, that his dad plays a big role in your marriage.
          I think sometimes though that what people believe and what they do are different. I agree that if he thinks all the decisions are the man’s, then he is belittling you. But there’s also the question of what that looks like in practice. If, when making a decision, he does talk to you, and you tend to agree, or he does listen to you, then it’s likely not a big deal. He may believe one way, but in practice he’s actually not domineering.
          But if he becomes domineeering, that’s a different story. Can you find a women’s group that has a healthier view of marriage, and a healthier view of a father’s involvement in the family? They may be able to help steer you. But it does sound like you need a good marriage mentor couple that is NOT your husband to talk to you both, and that you may need to start learning to stand up to him now and tell him that you just can’t tolerate some things (including having a husband who doesn’t plan on being around when you have kids). He may not agree with you, but that also doesn’t mean that you have to give in. You don’t yell, you don’t get angry, but you can be firm, and say, “we are going to talk about this, because this is important. Our marriage is important, and this is hurting our marriage.” I think you’re upset about it enough that you do need to speak up for yourself. But it’s sometimes easier to do that if you have some friends supporting you, and if you have a mentor couple who can come in and help guide you into what a healthy relationship looks like.

  4. Ngina Otiende

    What a great wrap-up of the series. While it’s good to know what submission is not, I’ve enjoyed reading what it is..because often a lot of us get lost in what it is “not” we lose sight of what it “is”. And this “is” harder 😭 It’s not a simplistic..it demands growth from both people.
    And I haven’t started my week by asking myself these questions (on how to serve my hubby. ) So convicting 😢 Thank you

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad you liked it, Ngina! I actually think is a much taller order. This kind of submission is an attitude of life, an attitude of marriage, which is what it should be. If submission is only about letting him make the decisions, then a woman may only submit a handful of times in her whole marriage! But if it’s about what you do everyday–then it makes so much more sense.

  5. Kacey

    What if your husband is difficult to study?
    My Husband is an INTJ. So much of what he puts his thoughts and energy into are particular systems or areas of knowledge. He is happy to talk to me about these things, but he doesn’t talk about his emotions, largely because they’re deep, low-lying, and not engaged on the surface much. We spend time together. He’s affectionate. I think our relationship is pretty good. But I really have very little idea of what he needs from me on a deeper level because he doesn’t really have an answer even when I ask. I hope it’s more than just keeping the house running, which I do.
    It’s weird because he does know me well. He’s catalogued my systems and knows my moods. He can describe my thought process while I’m still working to understand an issue. But while I know his ways, I don’t think I know what he really needs. And I really want to feel needed. (INFP here who tries to figure out how everything makes me feel.)
    He never complains. He’s not much of an initiator. I just wish I knew where to start to figure out how to serve him better.

    • Tjajka

      Most INTJs love it when people take the time to listen to their ideas and systemazing (after they’re done thinking). So if you listen when he wants to tell you something he finds interesting, he’ll feel valued and loved. At least if he doesn’t have an outlet for it at work or if his work takes up most of his social energy.
      So chances are you are already serving and helping him just fine!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I agree with Tjajka–listen. Often the thing that INTJs like best is if someone else can figure out what they’re feeling. INTJs do have feelings, they just don’t express them very often! And often they’re far more comfortable in the world of concepts and theories than they are in the world of feelings in the here and now. So asking probing questions can help him identify what he’s feeling and help him through things, too.

      • Kel

        I am an INTJ married to an INFP. He complains I only value him for his intellect! I find him very useful for processing feelings. He is able to ask me questions to help me work things out.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes! INTJs really can value that in other people. 🙂 That’s an interesting combination in your marriage!

    • Samantha

      Not sure exactly what personality type my husband is, but he is really into woodworking and he loves to talk with me about it and the current projects that he is working on. He will give me rundowns on what steps he completed that morning and what he has to do next. I often ask about it as well because I know it makes him feel good and also because I am genuinely interested. He gets really excited about it and it is great to be able to listen to him talk so passionately. I honestly think just listening is an incredible way to serve our husbands regardless of their personality type. A common complaint among wives is that our husbands don’t talk when in reality they just don’t talk like or about what women tend to talk with one another. I think it goes a long way just allowing your husband to be himself.
      I am also someone who wants to feel needed. My husband is in the military and lived on his own for several years before we got married so he has taken care of himself before. But what he has told me several times since we have been married is how wonderful it is to come home to someone. Specifically me. I think sometimes we underestimate the true value of being that someone for somebody else. We fill a need every single day just by being there for them. And for that reason I make sure he knows how much I truly enjoy him coming home to me. I always greet him with smiles, hugs and kisses. And that’s another way to fulfill a need for them too just by making sure that they feel needed and wanted. I know these things are more general rather than specific to a specific person but they are still important.

    • Ariel

      Kacey, my husband sounds incredibly similar to yours. He is very laid-back, so content and never complains, which makes it hard to know what to do for him! And he doesn’t really like to talk about his work or hobbies, so listening is not really a good option for serving him. It’s funny because I am so thankful that he is so content and not needy… but at the same time it makes it hard to find specific ways to serve him beyond normal “wifely” things (meals, laundry, etc.)
      He’s also just like you said about how well he knows me, and knows how to help me sort things out and listen to & understand me. (I’m INFP too)
      Anyway I guess this isn’t a very helpful comment because I’m in the exact same boat 😛 I think it’s just a special challenge for us. He says I’m the best wife ever, which is very sweet, but not helpful when it comes to things like this!

  6. Samantha

    I know it may seem silly, but one of the ways I serve my husband is through my cooking and baking (which I genuinely love to do). There is nothing quite like making something that I know he loves and nothing makes me feel better than him saying that he loves everything I make. Lol when he was single and on his own he didn’t really do much cooking and basically stuck to the same few simple meals or take-out so when we got married I was very eager to get in there and take care of him in that area. There is just something incredibly fulfilling about cooking out of love for someone. It is a gift that I give and get back especiallybecause he is very vocal about how much he appreciates it. Plus I do the meal planning and stick to a very reasonable grocery budget which he loves as well. Lol

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that’s awesome! I don’t think it’s silly at all. I know lots of newlywed men who say that one of the big things they love is that they don’t have to cook as much anymore. It’s a wonderful way to bless your husband! (That’s what my daughters feel, anyway!)

  7. Elisa M Gray

    I think a part of serving your husband is noticing when he is serving you. For years I felt bad because my husband never says “I love you” unless I say it first. In 36 years of marriage, I think he has said it maybe five times. BUT his love language is acts of service, and once I learned that when he folds the laundry because I need to be somewhere else or when he makes waffles for me for breakfast on Saturday, he is saying that he loves me. So, now I make a point of noticing and saying thank you. It was hard at first, but over time it has brought me great joy.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s beautiful!

  8. JM

    Why does no one ever bring up 1st Corinthians 7:6, where Paul says this is just a suggestion, not a commandment?

  9. esbee

    you have answered my life long question of my married life….i was a ” student” of my husband for 46 years. studying, researching and figuring out all his illnesses and accidents and how he thought and always trying to make his life and health better. too bad he didn’t. i was sherlock holmes to his mysterious illnesses and why did he always hurt himself, trip, fall, cut – all accidents when i asked him to do something for me….finding out that because he was born premature 4-6 weeks back 71 years ago he missed out on a lot of what those last few weeks could have given him. he had a weak immune system and therefore got everything that came down the pike. on top of that a serious head injury when he was 19 may have affected his personality–good thing he did not want me to be submissive. he wanted me to think for myself and follow god’s leading not him telling me what god’s leading was. –he passed away in march


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