FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Wives, Cheer Your Man

with Dave Wilson | September 3, 2021
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Affirmation is one of the core needs of men. Through sharing Ephesians 5, Dave Wilson encourages women to build into their marriages by becoming their husbands' biggest cheerleader!

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Affirmation is one of the core needs of men. Through sharing Ephesians 5, Dave Wilson encourages women to build into their marriages by becoming their husbands’ biggest cheerleader!

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Wives, Cheer Your Man

With Dave Wilson
September 03, 2021
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Dave: So then I meet Ann; and she says, “Of all the men in the world, I choose you. You’re the man! You’re the man! You’re the man!”—right? Then we get married. Then it’s like you come home, and you walk in the door; and all you hear is: “Boooo!” [Laughter] Honestly, at that time in our marriage, it felt like that when I walked in the door: “I didn’t do that good enough,” “I should do more of this...”

Long story short: she, the next day, got on her knees and said to God, “Do I boo Dave?” Thank God; God said, “Yes.” That was 30-some years ago. She—beginning then and, now, for the last 30-some years—is my biggest cheerleader.

Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.

Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

We have another great day today with my favorite communicator, speaker, preacher.

Dave: You’d better say that. If you say anything else—

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: We have Dave Wilson, in the house, giving a message.

Dave: Actually, I was in another house. It was Discovery Church, down in Orlando, Florida, walking through Ephesians 5. They were in a series—their pastor is a friend of mine, Don Cousins—he asked me to come speak on Ephesians 5.

Ann: This is the second half of your message.

Dave: Yes; here is the great thing about, not just this message, but the things that I get into in this message are the kinds of things we talk about at the Weekend to Remember®. The reason I’m telling you that—the marriage getaways with FamilyLife called Weekend to Remembers are all over the country—there is going to be one, probably, near where you live. If you sign up right now, you get a half-off deal.

Ann: Okay; that’s pretty remarkable.

Dave: Oh, it’s awesome!

Ann: You can get a half-off deal if you sign up.

Dave: Go to and sign up; and I mean, sign up right now. We can guarantee you it will change—

Ann: —your marriage.

Dave: —your marriage. Hopefully, this message will as well.

Ann: It’s going to.

[Previous Message]

Dave: Do you know what the top needs of your wife are? Guys, I’m going to give it to you right now; alright? You need to write these down or put these away in your brain; and then, on your drive home today, you need to turn to your wife and say, “Honey, are these your top three?”—because they may be totally different. The thing about women—you know this, guys; right?—they change every hour or five minutes. You never really know—“It was this, but…”— I’m just kidding—but here is what Harley said.

Number one for a woman is affection. Now, I remember saying to Ann, “What is affection?” She goes, “Oh, it’s non-sexual touch.” I’m like, “There’s touch that’s non-sexual? What is non-sexual touch?” She’s like, “A hug, or holding my hand, or kissing me.” She once said to me, “I love it when we are at church”—she goes—“I love when your hand is just sitting there on my thigh, and it doesn’t move; it just sits right there.” I’m like, “That’s affection.”

Here is the thing I’ve found about a lot of marriages—they don’t kiss anymore—there is a little peck here, a peck there. The only time they kiss is in the bedroom; that is not what a woman longs for. Am I right, ladies?—don’t say anything; okay?—but it’s like they long for affection. That’s number one.

Number two was conversation. They want their man to talk with them. We say in our Vertical Marriage book, “Women don’t want to talk; they want to taaalk about the relationship,”—there are like three a’s in there; right?—because they love to communicate. It’s like conversation means: “Talk with me.”

Then number three is: when we talk, they want honesty and openness. In other words, they want us to open up our heart to them—share with them our fears and our weaknesses—the things we’re struggling with. Man, when we go there—am I right, ladies?—you feel loved. It’s an amazing, amazing truth.

Guys, are you doing okay?—that just hit you pretty hard; okay?—let’s keep going. If you go back to the passage, he goes into verse 26, and he says: “…that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…” I’ve got to be honest with you. I’ve been teaching on marriage for almost 40 years; I’m not sure I really ever understood this verse. What does it mean to wash her by the water with the word?—“so that he might present the church to Himself in splendor without spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Holy and without blemish—here is what Paul is saying to husbands—you are to love her in such a way that she is sanctified. Some of you know this; but the word, “sanctify”—hagiazo in the Greek—is “set apart.” That your wife feels set apart, by the way you cherish and love her, that she is special/that she is number one. It’s like everything else in your life—your wife; Jesus, your wife—it’s like set apart, holy, and blameless. It says to wash her; it means to wash her so that she is holy and pure—holy, set apart, pure—that is a man’s role/a husband’s role in his wife’s life.

What does it really mean? It means lead her, spiritually, to Christ; it doesn’t mean lead her to Christ. It means, as you are her partner in her life, you are called by God—men, we are called by God—to lead her, spiritually, to Christ/her Savior. That doesn’t mean we are a dictator, but it means we lead her in such a way—we cherish her and love her in such a way—that we draw her to become the best version of herself. She comes alive because of the way her husband loves and cherishes her. That’s a beautiful picture of marriage.

Here is the action step—just write this down—“Hit your knees,” “Hit your knees.” I’ll never forget one Sunday night, at about 11:30, I was crawling into bed; and I was exhausted. Here is what happened that weekend, 15 years ago. Saturday night, I preached at my church; just like you have a Sunday service, it was a Saturday night service. I drive down to the team hotel for the Lions, downtown Detroit; it was 30 miles away. I speak to the team at their chapel service. I go home; go to bed; get up the next morning—do three services at church—get in my car, drive down to Ford Field; change into my sideline gear; run onto the field at the end of the first quarter, acting like I’ve been there the whole day—but I’ve been preaching all day—walk on, do the game, do all the stuff after the game: basically, grief counseling; because we got beat again—so I do that thing in the locker room—kidding. Then, I drive home.

It’s a long weekend; right? I’m crawling into bed, just exhausted. It’s been a great weekend, but I’m exhausted. Just as I’m about to close my eyes—I’m smiling, because this isn’t a funny moment—but here is what happens. I’m just about to fall asleep; I’m just so exhausted. Ann says to me—laying right beside me in the bed—she says, “Man, oh, man. I sure wish the guy who led our church lived here.” I said, “What did you just say?!” Again, I wish she were here to tell you her version; but here is how I heard it. She said something like, “You lead so strongly at church: you pray with passion; you worship; you preach with a fervor. And then you come home, and you’re just tired. I just wish the way you led our church is the way you led me. Okay; let’s go to sleep.”

I’ll never forget—I wish I could have just said—“Thank you, honey; that was something I needed to know, and I’m going to do better.” I’ve got to be honest—I literally jumped out of the bed—I said, “Do you know how good you’ve got it?! I know what other husbands are like; you’ve got the best husband you could ever imagine.” I didn’t do that, but I did something like that—sort of like—“You don’t realize…”

Then, the next day, I got in my study; I closed the door; I literally got on my knees—I’m not saying I always pray like this; but when I want to be in full submission, posture-wise—I just said, “God, were You trying to talk to me last night through Ann?” I heard, “Yes.”

Here is the thing: she was right. I can get on this stage, and I can lead; I can cast vision: “And we’re going here…” I come home; and I was just tired and exhausted, and I was passive. She was longing for her man to—what?—lead her. “Lead me like you lead them; just do that.” She didn’t understand this, but that washes her; that draws her closer to Christ. That brings her to a holiness. Again, it’s not all on me—she has her own responsibility to walk with God—but she is longing for her man to lead her.

I’ve got to be honest—I said this in our parenting book—I find that it is easier to lead a church than at home; because at church, I know what to do. I walk in my family room, and I’m like, “I’m supposed to lead you guys. I don’t know what that looks like.” My dad walked out when I was six years old with another woman. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Again, I’m not blaming all that; but there is no model for me to look back to, so I’ve got to figure this out. It was easier to figure out going to seminary and be trained; but who trains husbands how to love their wives?—as we’re talking about today—and sanctify them? “Just hit your knees and ask God for power to do this”; do you hear what I’m saying?

One year after that, a New Year’s resolution, I said to her, “Honey, New Year’s resolution this year—every night after we get the boys down to bed,”—and they were little at the time—“I’m going to go in the office. I’m going to go on my knees, and I’m just going to pray for them and their wives someday.” I said, “You don’t need to join me, but that’s my New Year’s resolution.”

Here is the thing—I did it 15 days, 16 days, 18 days—she was right there beside me; because—men, let me tell you something—when you lead spiritually, your wife is loving it! I didn’t tell her, “You have to be there,”—she’s right there—we’re both on our knees, praying.

I’ll never forget—one night, like 18 days in a row—again, it’s like five minutes; it doesn’t take your whole—we’re just going to do this. I’ll never forget; she grabs my left arm. She’s right beside me, and we were on our knees. She grabs my left arm; and she is all excited. She goes, “Hey, I’ve just got to tell you something right now.” I go, “Yes, what’s that?” She goes, “This/doing this every night with you, this is like a turn on.” [Laughter] I look at her, and I go, “What?!” She goes, “I don’t know how to describe this; this is like romantic. This is like—this is really like a turn on for me.”

I just/I can see in her eye—I knew what she meant by turn on—so I looked at her—and I didn’t say this, but here is what I thought—I thought, “If this is how this works, I’m going to become the Apostle Paul!”; you know? [Laughter] Guys, I’m not saying that is how it is going to work; but am I right, ladies? There is something romantic that happens in a woman’s heart when—yes, women are clapping right now—when her man leads her spiritually. You can’t fake this; this is an overflow. You can’t fake parenting; it’s an overflow. I’m just telling you: “Hit your knees.”

Okay, last couple of thoughts. I’m going to jump down to verse 33, because verse 33 talks to the wives and the husbands. I’ve talked this whole time to the men; let me talk to the women a little bit, because he says, “Husbands, love your wives.” Then he says—what?—“Wives, respect your husband.” Husbands love; wives respect. I think there’s a difference, because the core need of a man is affirmation/respect.

I don’t even think we always understand that; but as men, we long to be affirmed and respected. In fact, a man goes where he is respected. Now, I just call it: “Cheer your man,” “Cheer your man.” The action step I put there was: “Cheer.” Respect is: “Affirm with words and actions. The action is cheer.”

I’ll share this. Years ago, at Kensington, my wife was asked to come speak to the mothers of preschoolers—so all these moms. She said to me, “Hey, do you want to go with me and just add in?” I go, “Sure.” We didn’t talk about what I was going to say. I didn’t know what I was going to say. I get up on stage, and she is talking. Then we talk about: “What’s respect look like?” I said this/I go:

Hey, ladies, I don’t know if you understand this or not; but when a boy is a little boy, he always/usually, he has somebody in his life cheering for him. It’s like his mom or his dad; it’s like: “You’re good,” “You’re a good young man.” They are cheering something.

Then, as they get older, they find out what they are sort of good at; and they have a teacher or a coach that is sort of saying, “You’re good at this.” Then, as I got into college, I went to college on a college football scholarship as a quarterback; so I had 100,000 people, on Saturday afternoon, cheering for me as the quarterback—actually, I played at Ball State—so it was like 25,000. Anyway, they are cheering for you; right?

Then I meet Ann; and she says, “Of all the men in the world, I choose you.” She’s like, “You’re the man!” “You’re the man!” We get married—again, I’m saying all of this, and I’m feeling like, “Oh, this is coming out in a way that I’ve never said it,”—Ann is sitting over there, on this little stool. Then I said, “So then we get married. Then it’s like you come home, and you walk in the door; and all you hear is: “BOOO!” “BOOO!” [Laughter] When I say that, I turn like this; and Ann is over there like, “What?!” [Laughter]

We’re driving home; and she’s like, “What was that?! You think I boo you?!” I’m like, “Well, obviously, not literally; but yes.” She goes, “I’m not booing you. I’m helping you; you know, I’m helping you be better.” In fact—she denies this to this day—but she said, “I’m the Holy Spirit in your life.” [Laughter] She says, “I never said that.” I go, “I think you did,”—but anyway.

It’s like [she thinks], “Everybody else doesn’t see all the flaws you have. I see them, and I’m trying to…” I said, “I know that is what you are trying to do, but it doesn’t feel like that”—because honestly, at that time in our marriage—it felt like, when I walked in the door, I got critiqued: “I didn’t do this good enough,” “I didn’t do that good enough,” “I should do more of this…”

Often, I just shut down. You know what I do?—I go lead out there, because they think I’m good. I wouldn’t lead here [at home], because all I do is get critiqued.

Long story short is—she, the next day, got on her knees and said to God, “Do I boo Dave?”—thank God; God said, “Yes.” [Laughter] She heard that. Again, it’s a long story, but here is all I have to tell you: that was 30-some years ago. She, beginning then and now for the last 30-some years, is my biggest cheerleader. I am not kidding; I can’t wait to get home tomorrow; because when I walk in that door, she cheers me. I’m not saying she doesn’t speak truth—there are hard truths that we have to speak to one another to sharpen one another to become like Christ—but generally, 80 percent is: “You’re the man,” “You’re good!” “Thank you!” I tell you: that lights a man up!

Women, when you stop booing, and start cheering, here is what will happen: the man becomes the man you’re cheering that he isn’t yet. Does that make any sense? She started cheering me up—like I’m up here—and I’m like, “I’m not that good.” Then I wanted to become what she said I was; and I started to become a better man, and a better husband, and a better father, and a better spiritual leader. I’m just telling you women: “You have power in your hands that can transform your man.”

But here is the last thing I want to say: “None of this is possible—anything we said—loving your wife, cherishing your wife, respecting your or cheering your man—none of this is possible without the power of God.” The last thing there is: “We cannot do marriage God’s way without His supernatural power today,”—I rhymed it; that’s what preachers do—but we can’t do marriage God way if we don’t have His supernatural power today.

This whole passage comes out of Ephesians 5:18, where he says, “Keep being filled with the Holy Spirit.” You can’t do this; I can’t do this—we have to put Him number one—God. When we submit to Him—and by the way, you can’t do that for your spouse—this is only you. If they do it as well, it’s awesome. If they don’t, it’s you—you take care of you—you get your power from the Holy Spirit. God will literally meet you and bring help and hope back to your marriage.

I want to end with this—a video of Ann—I mean, I wish she could be here with me. You didn’t get to appreciate what she’s like—you’ll see in this video—“Oh my goodness! This woman is a dynamo; she is amazing.” She always loves visuals when we teach; so a few years back at our church, we were doing a marriage message on a weekend. She said, “I want to bring our tandem bike on stage and do something with it.” She didn’t even tell me what. You’ll tell—in this video, you’ll see I didn’t know where this was going—but it’s a powerful visual of how to put God first, because you don’t have any hope with just some nice marriage tips. You need God first for this to work; so watch this, and then we’ll close.

[Video Clip]

Ann: I wanted to do this last illustration. You guys can probably tell: I’m a visual learner. That’s why I did that thing with the brick; last week, we had the marble. This week, we have another visual because, for me, I feel like, in our lives, we’re all on this journey of life. We think we know what will bring us happiness. No matter how old we are, we think, “If I do these certain things…”—“If I go to the right school…” and “I have the same right friends…” and “I marry the right person…”

Dave: Oops!

Ann: So this is my visual this week. This tandem is going to be like our journey of life; right? So here we go. For me—

Dave: I’ve got to fix the handlebars; this has literally been hanging up in our garage for 15 years.

Ann: I bought this with my—I saved pennies and bought it when I was 12 years old—so we’re on this journey of life.

Dave: I still don’t know why we have this bike at all at our house.

Ann: It’s awesome; look at it.

Dave: She wants to go get it all fixed up; I’m like, “No; please don’t.”

Ann: Okay; so I’m in life; right? I think, “I know what is going to bring me happiness.” As long as I’m in control, I’m in the front seat: I know where to go; I know what to do; and I know the things that will make me happy, bring me joy, bring me fulfillment. I’m on this journey, like: “Okay, this is good! I’m going to date this guy,” “I’m going to go to this college.”

I’m going there; and I’m realizing, after a while—have you ever done this?—you are after all your dreams; but when you get some of your dreams, it’s exactly what we talked about/I’m thinking, “That didn’t do it. Oh, it just didn’t bring the joy and the fulfillment that I thought it would.” So I’m getting a little frustrated on my journey; but I think, “Okay, I’ll try another route. I’ll try to go to another path that will bring me joy.”

About that time, my sister came home from—she was living out of state; she was seven years older—and she came home; and she said, “Ann, I’m telling you. I have found the most amazing secret to life,” basically. She said, “I have this relationship with Jesus Christ. I’ve understood now why He came, why He died, that He wants a relationship with us. It’s not that we get to heaven on doing the right things; it’s being with Him in relationship of surrendering your life to Him.”

As she started talking about that, I knew God in terms of—you know what it was?—He was Elohim to me; I believed. If you had asked me if I am a Christian: “Yes, I am a Christian; I believe in Jesus,”—but I didn’t know Him—I didn’t have a relationship. So when she said that, I said, “Yes, I want to surrender my life to Jesus. So, Jesus, come on! I want You.” [Speaking to Dave] You’re Jesus!—“Come on, Jesus.”

Dave: “Get on the back”?

Ann: Yes; “Get on,”—like: “Get on the back!”

Dave: She picked the right guy to play Jesus. [Laughter]

Ann: Yes; so I’m on this journey; right? “Okay; You ready?—we’re going. You’re going to get me to heaven; right?”

Dave: “Uh, yes.”

Ann: “Okay!” We’re going; I think, “This is awesome; Jesus is with me, doing things.” But then, I start going the same places that I always went. You know, I am still trying to be in control—I’m the one—and Jesus is like, “I’ve got this; I know where to go.” I go to the same paths, and I’m so frustrated. Now, it’s worse; because Jesus is on the back, and He sees where I’m going. Now, I feel guilty.

As I’m going, I think, “Oh, this is terrible!” I feel this nudging of Jesus. I feel like He’s wanting to be here, in control, taking me on this journey. The more I discover who He is in the Word; the more I’m realizing He loves me. He has designed me with a purpose and a plan, and what would it look like if I allowed Him to be in total and complete control and to lead me on this journey?

I was so scared; I was so scared, because I thought, “Where is He/what path is He going to take? He might take me to Detroit! He might make me marry a pastor! Who knows what He would do?”

Dave: He would never do that, honey. [Laughter]

Ann: But I state this prayer—I’m like, “Alright, Lord, I give You everything. I’m going to put You in total and complete control. I’m going to trust You.” It was so scary; but I thought, “Alright.”

But it felt good, like, “Okay; here we go!” I’m like, “I’m free. I can let Him go wherever He wants. We’re going.” But then, after a while—it’s all good for a while; right?—but then, it’s like, “Wait! Why are we going down this road?! I do not like that road; I don’t want to go down there. It’s scary; it’s risky;—

Dave: “Trust Me; trust Me.”

Ann: —“it’s awkward.”

So then, I’m starting to look over—I’m being the backseat driver—“No; no, I never said that I would go there. Nope; nope. [Ann tries to take over the front seat] I’m going to help You. Let me help You, Jesus.” I’m trying to—like, “Lord, no! No! Don’t do that. No! Here, I’m going to help You.” [Laughter]

Have you ever done this? [Laughter] I am good at helping Jesus—like, “Jesus, no!”—I get so scared, and I want to control it. He saying, “Ann, trust Me. Just go where/let Me take you where I know you’ll find joy and fulfillment.” This is good; right?

Dave: Yes; I didn’t know you were going to—

Ann: Here’s what happens—

Dave: —crawl on my head. [Laughter]

Ann: —I think what happens is, when we are back here, it feels scary; and sometimes, we don’t want to do it. I think, sometimes, God is saying, “Just cling to Me.” There are some times it is so hard that I can’t even pedal. It’s almost like I just want to cling to Him, close my eyes, and trust Him for everything; because this is the scariest position of all. Yet, it’s the safest, most wonderful place we could ever be.


Bob: Well, what we’ve been listening to—Dave and Ann Wilson talking about surrender—letting God take control of your life and not trying to pull back the handlebars. In fact, really, you should go to our website and watch the video clip of Ann demonstrating being on the back of a bicycle built for two and trying to climb over the top so you can steer and control the handlebars. The video clip is available on our website at, and you can go there to see it. If you’d like to download the complete message from Dave Wilson today, from Ephesians, Chapter 5, about marriage, that is available online as well.

Let me just encourage you: “All of us go through seasons in marriage, where we have to recalibrate, where we have to pull back and say, ‘Okay, we’ve got some habits we’ve developed over the years—some patterns that are not healthy—some things that we are doing that are not helping us achieve oneness in our marriage.” That’s what the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway is all about.

I’ve met with couples, who have been to multiple getaways. Some couples make it an annual checkup for their marriage to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, and they get something new out of it every year. We have about 30 of these events being hosted in cities all across the country this fall. And right now, FamilyLife Today listeners can register for an upcoming getaway and save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. We’re making this available through next Monday.

If you want to take advantage of this special offer, today is the day for you to go online to, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can register by phone; you can get more information on the website: find out when a getaway is happening in a city near where you live, and then register online if you like. Again, you’ll save 50 percent of the regular registration fee as long as you sign up today. The getaway is going to be a great weekend for both of you. Let me encourage you again: “Go to, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; and join us for an upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.”

With that, we’ve got to wrap things up for today. Thanks for joining us. I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together with your local church congregation this weekend, and I hope you can join us on Monday. We’re going to hear, again, from Dave and Ann Wilson about how important it is for us to understand how big God is and the impact that can have on your marriage and your family. That comes up Monday. I hope you can join us for that.

On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I am Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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