What Speaks Love to Your Man?

By Erin Smalley
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Tim Bradford
Erin Smalley has learned that cherishing her husband starts by focusing on what she values about him and that nourishing their relationship involves putting love into action.

The evening started as does any “typical” weeknight in the Smalley household — I was making dinner, kids were doing homework, and we were all preparing to greet Daddy when he came home.

But that night we planned something different. As the garage door opened, I whispered to the kids to silently take their places. As my husband, Greg, slowly pulled his car into the garage, I motioned for my kids to carry out our mission. Before Greg knew what was happening, each child was leaping toward his parked car, and I slammed my body up against the front windshield. We watched as Greg jolted and then started laughing — the perfect response to our plan!

Little did I know that the joke would end up being on me.

We all turned to re-enter the house where our favorite meatloaf was cooking in the oven. And then we discovered that the interior door was locked. We were all together in the garage, and the meatloaf was burning in the oven. Greg felt loved; the rest of us simply felt hungry.

After 22 years of marriage and a graduate degree in psychology, I can tell you that there’s always something new to learn about marriage — especially when it comes to God’s Word. 
Greg and I had been reading Ephesians 5:28-29 together, discussing how “nourishes and cherishes” might apply to marriage. I came to understand that cherish is an attitude of honor, while nourish is the action of honoring, and I started on a journey of learning to nourish my marriage and my husband.

Now, you may be wondering what our garage adventure has to do with cherishing and nourishing. Maybe you’re thinking that I’m a terrible wife for scaring my husband and burning dinner. Don’t miss my point — Greg felt loved.

I’ve learned that cherishing my husband starts by focusing on what I value about my man. I’ve made a list of what I really love about Greg. I encourage you to make your own list. What is it about your marriage that you cherish: the joy of raising kids together or the strength of your shared faith?

To nourish my relationship involves making my cherishing practical — putting my love into action. The best way to know what speaks love to a husband is to ask him to complete this simple statement:  “I feel loved when you . . .” His answers will help you discover how to express love in ways that leave him feeling loved. And yes, at the top of my husband’s list would be a practical joke. How do you nourish your relationship: by going on dates or attending a marriage event?

Remember, it’s a high calling to cherish and nourish both your man and your marriage. 


Erin Smalley serves as the program manager of marriage ministries at Focus on the Family and is the author of several books including The Wholehearted Wife.

Copyright © 2014 by Erin Smalley. Used by permission. From the Focus on the Family website at FocusOnTheFamily.com.

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About the Author

Erin Smalley

Erin Smalley serves as the Marriage Strategic Spokesperson for Focus on the Family’s marriage ministry and develops content for the marriage department. In addition to her work at Focus, Smalley is a conference speaker. She presents with her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley, at marriage enrichment seminars where they guide husbands and wives in taking steps toward enjoying deeply satisfying marriages. …

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