The other day my boda guy asked me: “What is it that makes a woman willing to do anything for her husband?”
I couldn’t stop myself laughing out loud.
On realising that he actually expected an answer, I paused for a moment then told him: “Women just want to be loved.”
Love is the one thing that I knew could make a woman change her religion, forsake her children, cross seven seas, even forget herself.
“But how does a woman know when a man loves her?” He pressed.
“She just knows,” I told him as my ride came to an end.
I walked to my house thinking about the things that my husband did that made me know he loved me.
How is a man to love a woman such that she is left with no doubt that she is loved?
The best place to get that answer is in scripture, because that is the only portrait of perfect life that doesn’t change. Anything else I postulate can be overtaken by time and cultural differences, but not the perfect love as shown by God for us.
I find several pointers:
He loved first
No, we didn’t go out to find God. He loved us first. He started the journey of bringing us to himself even when we did not have an inkling that the awesome creator was pursuing our hearts.
Women are drawn to men who love them and who show initiative and work hard to win them over. Women want to be wooed. Women want to see effort. Are you trying hard enough to get her to notice you, want to spend time with you, say yes to your advances? Most men will tell you the women they married didn’t just enter the “box” on first attempt. Someone had to persistently keep at it.
We did nothing to deserve the love
That’s the beauty of God’s love; and that is what is most amazing about it. We can never be good enough to deserve God’s love; but He loves us anyway.
When a man loves a woman, just, such a woman will swim a crocodile-infested river to save him. There are all the traits that may attract a man to a woman. She is beautiful, hasa great body, has awesome hair, the nicest teeth, prays a lot, can cook like a an A-star chef, is balanced, she loves your mother… But all these can fade. Beauty does fade away. A good body can be undone by the rigours of child bearing. Those perky boobs will soon meet gravity. A strong faith can be tested and it fails. Even a good heart can be corrupted. Will you love her, in spite of this?
I heard a sad story about this woman who won a luxury car in a competition. Her family then advised her to dump her “loser” husband, who had opened for her the business that allowed her to win the car. A few months later after the windfall was gone, she discovered she needed her husband and tail between the legs, she headed back to him.
“I hope he took her back,” I told my friend who was narrating the story.
Because this woman would have known the meaning of being loved when she doesn’t deserve it. When a man loves a woman when she feels most undeserving, when she has let him and herself down, she will know she is loved.
Too many of us have been taught that we need to bring something to the table in a relationship. Trophy wives bring beauty and endless hours at the salon and spa. Career women bring in a cheque and intellectual stimulation. Stay-at-home moms give the stability of a secure home. Men on the other hand most times bring home the bread, the influence, the wisdom, the strength.
But what happens when you have seemingly nothing to give but someone still chooses you, believes in you?
Love is sacrificial
God gave his only son. Christ gave up his throne to become limited like man, helpless as a baby. That’s sacrifice. That’s putting others needs first. That’s forgetting yourself for a moment. Even a long moment.
Loving is about daily dying to oneself and picking up oneness as a couple. It’s about giving up “me” for “us”. It’s about putting another’s needs before your own.
My favourite marriage quote has to be: “Do you want to stay happily married or to be right?”
That’s the moment I realise that sometimes my opinion doesn’t have to take the front seat. Life is not just about me. Everyday i find myself laying down my life in small ways for others, most times my kids and husband. I gave up my name to take up his. I make major life decisions based on what is best for my family, not just for me. That’s daily dying to me and being alive in another entity, my family.
Loving a woman will call for sacrifice of pride, money, goals, ambitions, friends, family, priorities.. for that which brings you closer and wins her heart. Married people will tell you they have had to give up friends, forego job opportunities, forget about buying the two-seater convertible (and instead opt for a seven-seater van cos they got four kids), move to neighbourhoods that are more family friendly and closer to schools even if that means a longer commute.. sacrifices, but which bring so much joy in the end.
Love endures forever.
God’s love is eternal. So should a husband’s love for his wife. It endures all things. It is not pegged on good times, or on a timeline. It’s forever.
Love is every morning when he wakes up in a foul mood and with stinky breath. Love is every evening when he comes home tired and can barely keep his eyes open. Love is holding on through the argument knowing that differing opinions do not mean you are ruined forever. Love is persisting in faith when he is being unfaithful because you believe God can change people. Love is when you are struggling to pay bills or buy nice things but still believe in each other.
Love is not an emotion. It’s a conviction; it’s a decision; it’s a commitment; it’s an action.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous, or boastful or proud.
Love does not demand its own way.
It keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
It is never glad about injustice.
It rejoices when truth wins out.
LOVE NEVER FAILS.
It never loses faith.
It’s always hopeful.
It endures through every circumstance.
Love will last forever.
That’s what love does.
Loving, real loving is hard. It tests our humaneness and leaves us at the cross, in need of a saviour.
I remember the pastor who presided over our wedding telling my husband:”Loving this woman will make you a more godly man. She will push you until you just have to pray harder, read the word more, trust God more.”
But what do women need from men?
We need a man we can follow. He needs to have a vision, a conviction, capability, character and commitment. We aint starting no families and making vows with wussies. And we need to believe in his vision, capacity and commitment.
We need affection. I know we have heard the endless jokes about Kenyan men and their lack of romance. But hey men. You do not have to do what you see on La Mujer. Just know your woman. Romance to her could be rubbing her feet cos she spends the day in impossible heels. It could be taking her to dinner because she loves fine dining and dressing up. It could be holding her hand as you walk in town cos that’s what gets her. Be creative and if stuck, just ask her what she would want you to do more.
Women need to trust. Thus be honest and open about your life. Let her know that there are no areas of your life that are off limits for her.
A woman needs to feel secure. This is why unfaithfulness is a deal breaker for many relationships; it unstabilises the relationship and she is no longer sure she can count on the man. Men make women feel secure by providing, protecting, being dependable and committed. This creates an environment for her to flourish and bloom like a flower garden.
If you are going through a rough patch in your relationship, and starting to wonder what it is you saw in her or him, whether it is worth holding on, or starting to feel like you do not know what the heck you are doing, don’t give up. Love is worth fighting for. Marriages are worth fighting for. Families are worth every effort.
Here’s a song to spur you on: