6 Things That Make an Exceptional Spouse

BY: - 14 May '13 | Marriage

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Are you the best spouse that you can be?
Talk about a loaded question. But then our own answer hits us with a resounding thud – Of course not. Surely there is something else we all can do a little better. Someway we can express our love a little more effectively.

I thought about this as I was reading a recent Inc. Magazine blog post about what exceptional business leaders do better than other leaders. As it is true in business, it is true in any facet of life – there are those that are not too good at what they do, there are those that are alright and then there are the exceptional.

When it comes to marriage, what makes for an exceptional spouse?
Similar to the business world, being exceptional in marriage calls for reading the culture and situation of the marriage. Each marriage is different and what works in one marriage might not work in another. However, here are six ways that should move us toward becoming a better than average, even exceptional spouse:

1. Become Great Communicators. We can not talk enough, about how we talk to each other. There is not an area of our marriage that is not impacted by how we talk and express ourselves to each other. Because, our communication either is the problem or the bridge back from the problem. I have read so many books about communication in marriage – even wrote a few chapters on it myself – but it always seems to boil down to lovingly saying what we feel and hearing what our spouse is really saying. The more we can honestly say how we feel and what we need the stronger our communication becomes. But also we have to hear each other. And hearing is different than listening. Hearing is seeking to understand from our spouse’s point of view, not our own. Without really hearing each other, our communication is significantly hindered.

2. I am sorry. I forgive you. Two of the most exceptional displays of humility in a marriage. Admitting when we are wrong sometimes feels like walking across the street with our eyes closed. Vulnerable! Because, when we admit our mistakes we lose control of the outcome by placing ourselves into our spouse’s hand.  Admitting we messed up, ultimately, buys us a lot of credibility with our spouse and more importantly keeps us in right relationship with Christ. As much as we need to be forgiven, we have to also forgive. Forgiving, is that ability to stop transferring our feelings about what has happened to our spouse. We know that it happened, but we are moved to a point of not transferring our hurt back to our spouse. Neither of these is easy, they are exceptionally humble actions, which is precisely why sincerely admitting our wrongs and forgiving their wrongs brings exceptional results to a marriage.

3. Share One Another’s Load. Running a house, raising kids and then being productive on our jobs is tiring. An exceptional spouse knows nothing about 50-50 and is more focused on “whatever it takes”. Seeking to take the load off of our spouse makes their life easier if even in only small ways. While the rule may be: “that” is a man’s job and “this” is a woman’s role.  When we can move beyond those boundaries and take the load off or our husband or wife, we demonstrate how much we value them.  And thus, put exceptional strength into our relationship. Note to Husbands: There was a study that came out a few years ago that made a strong link between the amount of house work a man does and the degree of intimacy he enjoys with his wife.

4. Solve Problems Side by Side. Change your language from “you”, to “we” and “us” and you can begin to move from confrontational to partnership in your marriage. For example, if you can change “you” are always late, which is 100% on them to, “we” need to work on being on time, which is walking side by side. That is exceptional patience in humility in that you remove blame and walk together.

5. Complement (Verbally). After a few years we get so comfortable with each other that we can forget our manners. Never stop saying thank you. Take note of your spouse’s new clothes or improved attitude. At times we have to be intentional about continuing to express our feelings and admiration. SO make it a habit to routinely check yourself, are you paying enough attention to your spouse, more importantly are you telling them what you are seeing and feeling.

6. Wisdom. Exceptional spouses seek exceptional wisdom. The longer we are married the wiser we should be about ourselves, our spouse and our family. If you even suspect that an action or behavior might lead to a bigger problem, then don’t do it! For example, the wise, exceptional spouse doesn’t linger in conversations that are clearly leading us in the wrong direction. Exceptional wisdom looks for, sees and runs like crazy from potential calamity. The exceptional spouse also takes note of what is important to their spouse and where the land mines are. The point, is that being an exceptional spouse is about knowing yourself and being proactive about avoiding big “mess ups”.

An interesting closing thought is that we can do all of these things and our spouse may or may not see the value in them. Being “exceptional” isn’t about reaching a destination, rather it is about constantly working to love our spouse more completely and most importantly, the way they need to be loved.

About the author

Edward Lee wrote 63 articles on this blog.

Edward is a husband, father, founder of Elevate Your Marriage Marriage Coaching, author of three books: "Elevate Your Marriage", "Husbands, Wives, God" and "Husbands, Wives, God Weekly Devotions." He is also the Pastor of LongView Bible Church in Owings Mills, Md. Visit Edward's blog at: elevateyourmarriage.com

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28 WordPress comments on “6 Things That Make an Exceptional Spouse

  1. Dallas

    if i read one more article telling husbands to do more housework and chores to get more intimacy i’m literally going to scream! i am your husband, not your teenage son working for an allowance. you are supposed to WANT to be with your husband…whether he lifts a finger to do chores or not. it’s one of his needs and when you said “i do” you made a commitment to fulfill his needs, as he did to fulfill yours. we certainly dont predicate intimacy on chores and housework (nor would/should it be acceptable if we did), so why do we excuse it when women do it? i’m not excusing a husband’s responsibility to fulfill your needs (if in fact doing chores is one of them), but refusing to fulfill and/or making excuses to explain why you arent willing to fulfill your commitment in an effort to punish him is counterproductive, childish, and selfish. you basically communicate to him that sex is just another chore or expectation to fill, and that’s probably one of the most hurtful messages a man can receive from his wife.
    the rest of the list was great!

    Reply
    1. Edward

      Dallas, thanks for the comment. I feel you, we (husbands) should not have to do housework for intimacy! However, the point I was trying to make, was to find balance in a relationship. It is real that a woman that is dog tired and feeling taken advantage of because she is doing all of the housework and going to work, probably won’t be in the mood, when the lights go off. So, the suggestion was to find balance. If a wife doesn’t mind doing it all – then that’s cool. But for those marriages where that it not the case, than it might help to share the load so that both are happy throughout the day and then also at night.

      Reply
    2. T. Lynn

      Dallas, I think you are right if a person is using intimacy to manipulate their spouse. Manipulating people in any relationship is no excuses wrong! However, I thought the author was saying that if helping the wife with housework makes her happier, feel more valued, etc, then intimacy (not necessarily sex either) is more intense (for both), because of how it made her feel and how hopefully it made him feel seeing her happy. I could have read the article wrong but that’s how I interpreted it.

      Reply
  2. MissNC-ZN

    @Dallas…
    I’m really failing to understand why this is such an issue. I personally don’t think a call for help with household chores is reason for dispair. Yes as the woman of the house I believe it remains my responsibility to ensure that the household is maintained and well taken care of, but equally said I don’t suddenyl become “Super-human” just from being a wife and as my husband I will need you to pitch in from time-to-time! I’m by no means saying you become the “maid”… just help her out!

    Not using sex as a bargaining tool, but let’s face it… it is more likely that she won’t want sex due to the physical fatigue not because she wants to spite you! So, yes, loosely translated… a few chores from the husband will get you more cookie!

    In our previous world order it would have been possible to leave all duties to the wife who was house based and didn’t work… You don’t need to do the laundry, but you ensuring that your dirty clothes are in the basket for example would go some way to helping her do things more efficiently. After an 8hr day at the office, your wife will prepare dinner, but you assisting with the dishes wouldn’t be too much to ask, even if it is just packing them into the sink!

    What we sometimes miss, is that we don’t always do what is convenient for us, there are times that call for us to do what is neccessary!

    Reply
    1. Dallas

      not sure why you get the impression that i have a problem with asking for (and receiving) help with chores. i believe i even specifically stated that a husband has a responsibility to fill that need if it exists for his wife. i would argue that maintaining the household is a shared responsibility and goes far beyond cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc. the household is the totality of the chores/duties that are required, but also intimacy, finance, discipline (if children are involved), etc. everyone should be expected to participate. if one or more of these aspects are neglected, i dont care how clean the house is or who did the dishes, the household is not as strong nor properly maintained, and the fault is shared. again, both spouses must participate and not stand in judgement of one another in regards to which chores/duties they elect to fulfill. In my experience, many women seem to keep score in regards to who does what and how often. As I’ve often explained myself to my wife, she has the freedom to perform her tasks as she sees fit and/or time permits and she should afford me the same freedom. I take what I believe to be a true “whatever it takes” approach. If there’s something important to me that I want done (even if something outside of what i usually do), I do it. Not because I want recognition, “points”, sex, or a parade, but because it’s important to ME. It has nothing to do with whose job it should be or usually is etc, if you want it done urgently, do it yourself. I find it unfair to prioritize her time for her, and equally unfair for her to prioritize mine for me.
      My issue remains that chores for sex (loosely translated or otherwise) is a flawed approach. I propose more intimacy and you can have all the chores you want…but something tells me there’s going to be a problem with that…..
      “it is more likely that she won’t want sex due to the physical fatigue not because she wants to spite you!”
      – it’s also equally as likely that I wont want to do all those chores due to the emotional fatigue of having my needs consistently neglected, but not to spite her.

      Reply
  3. Cathy

    This was another wonderful article! I believe each of the items on the list can be influenced by #1. Until we can positively express ourselves and our emotions, nothing gets resolved and a lot of mind reading and assuming takes place. Communication has to be key in any relationship…a marriage, teacher-student, parent-child, etc. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Frances

    This article was a very good read. It had a lot of good information. If you are wanting a healthy marriage, then this article was helpful information. My husband and I share the chores around the house as well. We do it to help each other out. Lol, sometimes I get jealous because my husband cleans certain areas better than me. We make it fun. Marriage takes work and you have to put in what you want out of it. I Love reading article from BNMWK. Again, this article was very informative. Great Job Mr. Edward

    Reply
  5. T. Lynn

    Truly great advice. I’m not yet married, but I desire to be & if its GOD’s will believe that I will; so I subscribe to be proactive. :-) This is a good & simple read. This should be practiced in every area of our lives, we would not only have exceptioanl marriages, but raise exceptional children, develop an exceptional nation…you know where I’m going with this.

    Reply
  6. vivian bryan

    i love the article it is great prefect for people who one day want get marry and for other that when stay marry i love the website

    Reply
  7. Millicent

    Great article and great comments too. I wish mothers and fathers would teach their sons and daughters these things before they enter marriage…it would make life so much easier and marriages be built on more solid foundations!

    Reply
    1. Edward

      Great thought. We do need to be more proactive in our raising of good husbands and wives. Uh-oh I think I just got another topic to write about. LOL

      Reply
  8. Dallas

    @stephanie: i took issue with the side note of a 6 item list and i missed the entirety of the article? perhaps not. clearly, you missed my point. not to mention that i was specifically referencing the article he linked to, but if judging me from the anonymity of your keyboard makes you feel better, judge away.

    it’s a one sided and circular discussion…husband should help wife so wife can feel less burdened and be more intimate….what does the wife help her husband balance? how does he become less burdened? why do we always assume that men who do not get the intimacy they want are NOT doing those things? Has anyone considered the possibility that some men are doing such tasks and sharing responsibilities and still not getting the intimacy they crave? When men complain about a lack of intimacy, the immediate assumption is that he’s not doing enough housework and that his wife is tired. What if she’s just inattentive? What if she’s depressed and untreated? What if she’s not being honest about the real problem and using chores/housework as an excuse? To me, it just seems simplistic and lazy to assume that men are not helping with housework as a way to justify/understand/excuse a lack of intimacy in a marriage. Assuming that this logic is a model women would like to see mimicked, I would propose a counteroffer which uses and applies the same logic, HUSBANDS: tell her she’ll get more chores from you when she steps up the intimacy.

    Reply
    1. stephanieb

      I think you may need to go back and read Edward’s reply to your comment above because that should resolve the issue for you, since you are still clearly upset about it.

      Reply
      1. Dallas

        why do i have to be upset to have an articulate and strong opinion on the matter? no need to belittle my contribution to the dialogue. i dont know that I need “resolution”, there’s no conflict here besides a matter of opinion. i was just trying to offer a differing perspective because there do not seem to be a lot of them when it comes to how husbands can get the intimacy they desire, or more importantly, why it is missing in the first place.

        Reply
    2. Edward

      Oh I see what you are getting at. The “spirit” of the original post was that both husband and wife had to work toward sharing the load. I agree with you if it is one-sided in either direction it does not work. The suggestion was for both to pitch in so that neither feel used, neglected, taken for granted, etc…

      The housework thing was a study that related to the topic but was not intended to throw “bad light” on my brothers. Just a point of fact that I think is relevant and perhaps helpful to couples. I know it has helped me.
      Above all I respect your view – thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  9. Armando

    I concur with Brother Dallas on this one. The increase of chore completion DOES NOT increase the level of intimacy. I say we let Brother Dallas contribute parallel articles from another perspective since it seems like he is clearly articulating his point and from what has been posted here, receiving little to no compassion from other readers.
    GO TEAM DALLAS!!!

    Reply
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  11. Karyn

    The point isn’t manipulation or using sex as a reward for chores. The point is that if a woman is tired, sex isn’t happening or, if it is it, isn’t very good. If a man can ligthen a woman’s load by offering a helping hand, it goes a long way to making her up to sex.

    Reply
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