About the Author

Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has lead thousands over the past 15 years to help make their walk with God an invigorating journey. Not...

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  1. Oh Lysa! I could sit and chat with you for hours about this! I didn’t see it before, but I was making my own list of what a good wife does, too. I just made it thinking it was what would make my groom happy. He told me for years that he didn’t have those expectations and thanks to God’s grace we’re together. Only He knows just how much torturing myself with the thoughts I was inadequate affected our marriage in a not so healthy way. Yes, simple is very good!

    Your truth-telling spoke to me in powerful ways today and I am so grateful for the ways God speaks in our hearts. What love.

    Rich blessings as He continues to show you the wife He wants you to be.

    • I love the three things idea. When I first got married I cooked breakfast for my husband EVERY morning and always packed him a lunch. That was what my mom did for my dad. I thought that was what wives did. He finally looked at me and said, “I like cereal. Really. And I can make my own lunch.” I was so happy!! I’m not my mom. And that’s okay.

  2. Such a healthy thing for me to read this morning. I’ve just been drowning in feelings of inadequecy lately.

    Thanks, Lysa 🙂 Blessings to you.

    – Kate 🙂

    • Here’s a life preserver so you don’t drown (from one who knows the pain of not feeling like enough): who you are is in Christ, and He adores the YOU He created. You CAN live that out, with His strength. You are treasured by the King (Isa. 62:3)

  3. This post shows one of the many things I love about you, Lysa. You take something that feels overwhelming and you make it manageable for us girls. And we all sigh relief and relish the freedom and sense of accomplishment! Oh, how I love you…

  4. Your list of what good wives did speaks to me of this-a loving wife does things her husband likes! My husband doesn’t really like meatloaf! 🙂 He does like steak and baked potatoes and he does like the house tidy and other details that I have learned through our fifteen years of marriage. Being a “good” wife has many different faces! Each marriage is unique! How special is that!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Thanks for your honesty and humor on this topic!! How often I’ve told my hubby, “I know you expect this from me but…”. And he gets that same dumbfounded look like you described, “what? I never said that!” – to which I reply that I know, but I’m sure that’s what he really feels. 😉 The tailspins we throw ourselves into based on what lies we feed ourselves or allow the world to impress on our brains. Sad, isn’t it? I’ve learned to just tell him earlier, ask earlier, clarify earlier to avoid all the unnecessary pressure I put on myself.
    Love your three things idea. Ironically, it sounds like something my hubby would say to me. He’s very much a let’s break this down in a logical, simple way type of guy.

  6. This reminds me so much about the FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES!!
    My hubby and I did some serious “fellowship’n” in the early years of our marriage.
    I happened to attend a conference in Orlando where the book was introduced and it changed my life.
    I realized….that all the STUFF I was doing to make my hubby happy was stuff I wanted for me. His love tank was pretty much opposite of mine and we were seriously speaking different languages. The kind that get you nowhere!

    Everyone’s list is different. Couples must find what fits for them and love with a fuel that fills them both up.

    Ps
    Is there a man who doesn’t want the lingerie to be at the top of his “list”?! haha

  7. Love this. It’s so easy for me to get discouraged that I’m not a “good enough” wife, even though my husband’s never said that at all! Fortunately, my husband is really good about telling me that I’m a good wife. 🙂

  8. Lurker coming out of the woodwork here to acknowledge that I struggle with this SO MUCH. The list of what it means to be a good wife, a good mom, and even a good Christian. Stupid long lists. And then it seems like all of us women are trying to convince the world that we have the list down, giving off the impression that we have it all together to each other, when in reality we’re all feeling inadequate and overwhelmed inside, and then we start to resent each other. For what? For an illusion we’re all running ourselves ragged trying to keep up? I think THAT was just the sound of God giving me a loving bop on the back of the head. 🙂 I needed to hear all this today. I’ve been beating myself up for being a “terrible” wife and mom and Christian as I try to keep up with life having a new baby and a toddler and this post was a huge breath of fresh air. So thank you. 🙂

    P.S. My husband might be the one man in the world who isn’t terribly into lingerie! Oh, he appreciates it for sure, but his idea of “sexy” lingerie is actually very simple, which is just fine with me – I find the lacy stuff to be scratchy and uncomfortable. LOL

  9. The part about “do less. be more” reminds me of what Staci Eldredge writes in CAPTIVATING. As women, what is more important than striving is offering and inviting. I find that when I just offer myself to my husband, he has really nice ways of confirming that he already loves who I am and couldn’t care less about what I do. Which, ironically is exactly the message my heart needs to hear every day. Ladies, you are beautiful – it’s who God made you. Live out your identity in Him. You are who He says you are – and that is all your husband wants or “expects” of you.

  10. What a thought provoking post. I have created unrealistic expectations about what a wife and mother should do. I love narrowing it down to doing three things perfectly. Ah…simplicity.

  11. Wow! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I will be starting my life with a wonderful man in a few months, and I continue to try and prepare to be “the perfect wife” espeically since he has been married before. I didn’t want to be compared to her. But I realize that I can’t do everything. And he loves me for me, and he has spoken those three things before. I am feeling more impowered, and less inadaquate. Blessings and hugs to all you sisters in Christ. We are loved, and remember who we ultimately serve.

  12. I did this a lot during the first year of marriage, and I felt inadequate all the time! Today is our 2 year anniversary, and I have made considerable progress. My expectations for myself are not at all what Brian’s are for me, and certainly not what God’s are!

  13. this resonates with me, a continuous list-maker and task-creator. getting swallowed by my own expectations happens to me still. but my husband is Extreme Grace, and pulls me out from underneath the piles of paper and dishes and unfolded laundry with such hope. thank you for sharing about you and yours… Victoria can keep her secret, I love my slouchy sweaters. (;

  14. Great article, we have all been there…After coming up on 33 years of marriage, and having gone through that scenario several times in our lives together, the one word that comes to mind is Grace. Grace, God’s grace for me. Allowing myself to bask in that Grace, helps me to put a check on the “TO DO” lists of being a “good” Christian, wife, mother, friend, child…or what ever comes to mind. Romans 5:6-9; Ephesians 2:1-10

  15. I think if we respect our husbands with what we say, how we say it, and and how we look while we are saying or not saying it – we make them feel loved and appreciated – they aren’t going to care so much about the rest of the stuff! That is a beautiful list. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  16. This was so my first few years of marriage & children. I wanted to be a 50s housewife. That was the idea of perfection in my head. Not Gods, nor my husbands. When I let that go with God & my husbands nudging I became more comfortable in my skin doing my new job as a wife & mom well!

  17. This is so right on.
    Actually after 38 years of being married we do have two tv’s because I tire very quickly over John Wayne and the other man type shows. I love documentaries like 20/20 or other shows like that, he does not. So often he is watching his things at night and I am watching mine in the den. We compromised and it is fine.
    I am not a proverbs 31 lady. (meaning I don’t rise to make his breakfast etc) I do take care of the home but not because he expects me to it is because I want to.
    When I worked full time, we shared duties.
    Marriage is so complicated at times we sure don’t need rules and bad assumptions to make it worse.

  18. Great post! One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was 10 years ago when I was trying to “do it all” as a wife and a new mom. A dear friend told me to ask my husband for his “Top 3” and to focus on those and it changed our marriage and my outlook on everything! I was trying to do the things my husband didn’t care about and wasn’t doing the ones he did. That all changed with our top 3 talk! Revolutionary! 🙂

  19. Lysa,

    Such wonderful, sage advice for newlyweds. I never had the list, but did some odd things too. I used to follow him everywhere–kitchen, basement you name it. He couldn’t be out of my sight for long.

    One piece of advice I learned from my parents is compromise. I always try to give him the space he needs and the alone time he wants. He will come by me and take me on a hike or some kind of a date once a month!

  20. Yes! I’ve found myself upset with my husband for his “expectations” only to realize later that they are either my expectations or an expectation of a friend’s husband or a societal expectation I’ve placed onto myself. I’m a sweatpants kind of gal too. And I used to worry about this and obsess over it because “good Christian wives make sure they have on a nicely put together outfit and makeup by the time their husband gets home” (regardless of what their day’s been like).

    But when I finally just talked to my husband about it, he said the first thing he wants to do when he gets home is change into sweats. And if I’m dressed up he feels badly doing it. With occasional exceptions, he said he actually preferred it when I was dressed down. And to think, all that worrying for nothing.

  21. When i first got married i tried to be the perfect wife the perfect daughter in law and in doing so i completely lost myself. It took my husband to sit me down and explain that he fell in love with the wacky person i am, he didn’t want perfect he wanted me x

  22. THIS IS SO GOOD!

    I struggled with the same thing when I first got married until Arno’s mentor pastor told me one day, “Lindsey, you were not called to be “everyone’s” wife. You were called to be Arno’s wife.”

    And THAT changed my life. I, like you, decided I should do the things that were MOST important to him. I still put pressures on myself, but then I real my expectations back in and my love will gently remind me to just be.

    Thank you so much for your words!

  23. Wow…I find it amazing how we think we are all along in our journey in life, yet an article such as this one, wiggles it’s way onto my internet browser and opens my eyes to the expectations I put on myself, that I once thought for a fact that this was my husband expects as well. I take a step back after reading this simple, but true post and realize, she’s going through exactly what is going on in my head. Thanks for helping me see outside the box, and create a happy home.

    Mommy of Three…for now 🙂

  24. Oh, I love this post. I love how you shared you got resentful toward your husband about expectations you had for yourself. Many of us can relate… at least I can. I am SO BLESSED to be married to a man who desires for me to focus on what’s eternal even more than homekeeping. The older I get, I am learning that perfection in homekeeping leads to emptiness. Time spent with him or my kids — really being mentally there with them — doesn’t. Thanks for this reminder.

    Oh, and I hear you on Victoria and her secret. 🙂

  25. I loved reading this! This is fabulous. I could relate to everything you wrote. Ha Ha Ha!
    I have been married 18 years but I am going to ask my husband what the three things are just for the simpicity of the idea. I can do three things!