I’ve discovered most men have injured the women in their lives emotionally, at least at some level. That’s because most men are typically thinking beings—we predominately process experiences in a rational, logical way. If someone says something that offends us, we accept or dismiss it based on whether it is true.

Women generally are different. They’re usually more in tune with their emotions. Women often are more relationally aware. When someone hurts a woman’s feelings, for example, it takes her longer to work through the feelings associated with the emotional injury.

The heart, as the seat of our emotions, was created much like other parts of the body. When we break a finger, our body instantly starts to heal and protect itself from further injury. When a person takes a swing at you, your natural reaction is to put your hands up in defense.

The same is true of the heart. When your heart is injured, it goes into a self-protective mode to keep it from further injury. Over time, after years of injury, it becomes almost calloused, refusing to allow anyone to injure it again. A woman who has undergone years of emotional injury doesn’t have much heart left to give to anyone—especially to the one who has done the injury. She has closed off her heart to keep from being hurt anymore.

Years of emotional injuries build up until the heart becomes closed.

Most men enjoy trying to “fix” problems, but men cannot fix their wife’s emotions. They’re not repaired as easily as one could fix a leaking faucet or program a computer.

So how do you heal a broken heart?

Of course, Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. He can come in, erase all the pain, and make the heart brand new. Most of the time, however—at least in my experience—he lets us wrestle with life’s heartaches while we learn to better love one another.

The following steps are designed to help you heal your wife’s heart.

Seek God.

Whatever draws you closer to God is a good thing—and will make you a better man, regardless of what happens with your marriage. As you attempt to rekindle your wife’s love, strengthen your relationship with God. That begins with recognizing who Christ is and your belief in him. Start there and grow.

Practice patience.

Recognize that restoring a broken heart won’t happen overnight. Emotions heal very slowly. Don’t expect too much too soon.

Love your wife.

This is by far her greatest need. The standard for our love is perfection, since a man is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. As an imperfect man, you actually will never love your wife enough.

Many men sacrifice their marriage for their careers or other interests. Remember, your wife knows when your attention is elsewhere. Her need for love is new every day; she needs to know she is second only to God in your affections. I have found for my love for my wife, Cheryl, to grow, I need Christ’s help. I pray for this often.

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Romance her.

Every woman has a certain need for romance. Many women had a fairy-tale ideal of marriage when they were growing up. They realize early in marriage this isn’t reality, but their need for occasional romance remains. Most men rarely know how to do this. Be genuine, but recognize and value the uniqueness of your wife and find ways to give her romance.

I gave my wife a “romantic” trip to New York City for Christmas one year. We were going to dance, walk through Central Park, and just enjoy each other. It didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned it, but I earned huge points in the romance category with my wife.

Value words.

When a man comes home and says, “This house is a mess,” that’s probably all he meant. He looked around, made a physical observation, and stated a factual conclusion. His wife, however, probably didn’t receive the information that way. She probably heard, What have you been doing all day? Or even, I don’t like you. When emotions receive information, anything can be heard—whether it is your intended response or not.

Learn to be gentle with your wife and the words you use. One question I ask men is, “Would you let another man talk to your wife the way you talk to her?”

Communicate on her terms.

Many women communicate best heart to heart—not head to head. Be willing to be vulnerable with your wife. You cannot talk to her as you would your guy friends. Your wife requires understanding, compassion, openness, and honesty in communication.

Give constant assurance.

Women need trust in their relationships. Your wife needs to know you are going to be faithful. Don’t take offense, for example, when she asks details about your daily schedule or activities. Your wife desires to be a partner in your life, and these details help provide trust and security in the relationship. Also tell your wife frequently that you love her and are committed to her. She needs this consistent assurance.

Learn to live by truth.

Emotions are often unreliable. We need truth. A woman who feels unloved may be very much loved by her family, but she fails to feel that truth because of years of emotional abuse. Gently but consistently speak truth in love, reminding your wife of her worth, beauty, and place in your life. Over time, truth, when given with love, can help heal damaged emotions.

Keep doing it!

The heart is damaged over years of injury. Sadly, many women have deep, tragic heart wounds, but much of these injuries were unintentionally delivered. Years of emotional injuries build up until the heart becomes closed. Erasing that pain happens just as it developed—a little at a time. You cannot try this for a week and then stop. Protecting your woman’s heart must become a lifestyle.

Recently I talked to a man whose wife is experiencing deep depression. It became apparent through our conversation that he had unknowingly been damaging his wife’s heart for years. He cannot seem to understand why his wife is so emotional. “Everything seems to upset her,” he said. The man told me he had tried to help her through her problems and that he could “fix” them if she would let him. I’m not sure I could ever convince this man his attempts at “repair” were probably one of the chief causes of his wife’s broken heart.

Most men tell me they don’t know how to be who their wife needs them to be or wants them to be. I believe if you want to win back the heart of your wife, you may need to learn how. It’s never too late to begin!

Used by permission of Ron Edmondson. Visit his site for more blog posts like this at ronedmondson.com