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Man's Greatest Needs in Marriage

A friend asked me a question this morning: “In your opinion, other than sex, what are the top two things a man needs from his wife?”

It isn’t an easy question to answer, and answers will doubtless be a very individual thing. The question deserves pondering, it deserves time for honest consideration.

My own answer was this:

Love. The kind that lives deep in the heart and that is truly incomplete without the other.

Honor. More than respect, honor edifies and uplifts not just because one believes another is doing something right, but because they respect and admire the motivations, reasoning, and care behind the actions.

The first speaks to a kind of devotion that runs deep not just because one is emotionally attached but because one has come to the point of realizing, feeling, and knowing that they are truly incomplete without the other. I view this state as fulfillment of God’s instruction that in marriage, “This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24 TLV). This instruction follows Adam’s recognition in the preceding verse that Eve, his mate, was a part of him before she was given her own identity: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones, and flesh from my flesh.” (TLV)

Recognizing that Eve was once a part of himself in all manner, Adam understands that he is truly and empirically incomplete without her as his partner in life, and thus that life itself is incomplete without her regardless of its many other pleasures. When God joins a man and woman in marriage, He, in essence, restores a unique relationship. It is as if He takes two halves of a vessel and joins them into one, to hold and steward spiritual, emotional, and physical life. Together, as Adam knew, we are stronger, deeper, and richer.

Honor made my list because it is the highest form of regard. All other forms, including respect and admiration, are necessary before honor can be formed as they are its ingredients, without which honor cannot exist. Love may come suddenly and even unexpectedly. Not honor. Honor emerges over time as a fullness of appreciation for what one has been graced with, fed by seasons of observing a life through its joys and trials, seeing a person’s best and worst moments and how they respond. Honor says, “I know who you really are and am proud to call you friend, lover, and mate.”

The question posed to me this morning came without warning. Given time I might have chosen differently, but I believe these two, love and honor, will stand the test of time. And they must stand the test for both partners in marriage. It is not a question for me or for her, it is a question for us. I must ask myself if she feels loved and honored by me and do all that I can internally and externally to assure her answer is yes.

If not, the two halves that God used to form the vessel of our relationship have a leak. I know about broken vessels and leaks, and I know about Love’s power to bind and heal. I know about the strength, mercy, grace, and surrender that must fill one’s heart for another lest the vessel break apart. Where these are present with God, nothing can prevail against them. That is the mark of Love and Honor, and before them there can be no fear, guilt, or shame.

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