Say What You Need to Say

communicating need to your husband

Say What You Need to Say is part of an ongoing series, Portrait of a Godly Wife.

Several years ago, a repeating scene played out at our home almost every week. My husband would ask if I minded if he played tennis. Being the godly, submissive wife, I almost always said yes. While he was away I would brew and stew about it. Didn’t he realize I needed time out? Didn’t he know that I needed him to be home to spend time with me and to help with the kids?

I spent a lot of years living the bitter life. I allowed bitterness to build while my husband did things he enjoyed.  He didn’t do these things against my wishes, but with my blessing. I thought I was supposed to say yes. I thought I should keep my needs quiet so that his needs could be met.

Ruth gives us an example of a godly wife who made her needs known. She was a woman in great need—a poor widow living with her bitter mother-in-law.  In the first chapter of the book that bears her name, Ruth loses her husband, her brother-in-law, her father-in-law. She leaves her sister-in-law, her family, her homeland, and her religion.

When Ruth meets Boaz’s workers, she is clear about what she needs from him.

Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers. Ruth 2:7

She doesn’t hint, beat around the bush, or stand on the sidelines giving the lethal combination of pouty lip and puppy dog eyes.

Boaz gives her more than she asks for:

Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.  Ruth 2:8-9

Why do we hesitate to ask our husbands for what we really need? During those bitter years, I thought it was godly to be a martyr and let him get what he needed at the expense of what I needed. Now, I find I hesitate if I feel like I am asking for too much. Or I project that his answer will be no. I avoid disappointment by not asking, but I am left with, well, disappointment.

Here is a mind-blowing truth: Your husband does not know what you need unless you tell him. Girls, we married some amazing men, but if we fail to communicate our needs, they can never meet them.

Jesus communicated this principle to his disciples.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

If God, who knows everything, wants us to ask Him for the things we desire, how much more do our husbands need to hear from us what we need and want?

Ruth didn’t stop at asking for left-over grain. She set-up a humble proposal that puts the Bachelor’s Rose Ceremony to shame. She snuck into the men-only territory and got under the covers with Boaz. When he rolled over and found her there she popped the question.

I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer. Ruth 3:9

Ruth opened up her heart and asked Boaz to go beyond meeting her physical needs. She asked him to meet her heart needs.

I am getting better at asking David to watch the kids so I can go to dinner with my girlfriends. I don’t hesitate to ask him to take out the trash. But it takes a lot of courage for me to open up my heart and ask him to meet deep, personal needs. If I had to pinpoint the reason, it is fear. I fear the appearance of weakness (after all, I am woman hear me roar). I fear rejection. I fear being a burden.

Boaz responds to Ruth’s request with grace and generosity. He places his blanket over her and says, “I will do for you all that you ask” (Ruth 3:11). He is thankful that she has asked him to meet her need.

You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. Ruth 3:10

Consider the possibility that your husband could be blessed by your request to meet the needs hidden deep in your heart.

I recently got up the courage to ask my husband for a biggie and braced myself for rejection. I wanted to attend She Speaks, which would take me away from home for a few days and take a big chunk out of the check book. I prepared a speech with all the reasons why and all the ways to make it work. Without hearing my speech, and without hesitation, he blessed me with a yes. I was humbled by his grace and generosity, much like Ruth lying on the threshing floor.

Is there a physical or personal need that you need to ask your husband to meet? Remember, if you never ask, he will never know.


  1. “If God, who knows everything, wants us to ask Him for the things we desire, how much more do our husbands need to hear from us what we need and want?” Wow. Wow. Kelly, this is good! So often I am stewing just like you described over an unmet need that needs to be expressed. I don’t ask sometimes because I’ve already asked for it (like a couple of years ago, surely he didn’t forget!) and I don’t want to be a nag. But you’re right, my husband loves to be able to meet any need of mine he can. The work for me is in the ask, but it’s so worth it!

  2. I love this! There is so much wisdom here! My husband and I have extremely different personalities and love languages, so we both have to work hard to meet the other’s needs. We often have to remind ourselves and each other that neither of us are mind readers.

    (I did a study on Ruth by Kelly Minter several years ago, and I was amazed by how jampacked it is with incredible history, theology, wisdom, encouragement, etc.)

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