As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away.

Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like quiet time upstairs. A rare weekday movie after homework and reading for the kids and catching up on laundry or that elusive real paper book for myself. It’s the simple things, the quiet things, that bring that much-needed rest. But that’s just a side perk of the evening.

While it may be quiet upstairs, besides the jet-engine sounds of the older-model spin cycle, loud bursts of deep, bass-tone laughter float up the stairs and lift the corners of my mouth as well as my soul. There was a time in my life when the event taking place in my living room was more elusive than that hardback book I rarely have time to read.

RELATED: Sometimes I’m Jealous of My Husband’s Friendships

For over four years now, with the exception of a few breaks mixed in, approximately 10 men gather together in our living room every other week. They study a book together, read the Bible together, pray for one another, and encourage each other. Besides those generalities, I know nothing of what’s discussed during those meetings. That’s the beauty of men-only time. The conversations don’t leave that living room. Of course, the same applies to women-only time as well.

Now, I do have an unusual perspective for a woman on the importance of a men’s group since I have worked for a men’s ministry for over eight years. I probably know more than I should about the way a man’s mind works and the struggles most men face. But then again, maybe it’s not more than I should know. Perhaps this knowledge is a gift. And this perspective is a gift I can bestow upon my husband.

Because I am also well acquainted with the flipside. Through the implosion of my former life and marriage, I experienced the damaging effects of the absence of true brotherhood, biblical mentorship, and genuine accountability. This wasn’t for lack of men or opportunity but for lack of a willing heart. The fact of the matter is men need other men. Just like women need deep friendships with other women, men need guys in their lives who will challenge and encourage them.

And guess what? We women will benefit from it. Moms of teen boys or young adult men will benefit from other men investing in the lives of our sons. The same goes for daughters of those dads who are being challenged to love and cherish our girls well and sons of those dads who multiply what they’ve learned by setting an example for our boys. And as wives, we will reap the abundant rewards from our husband’s relationships with other men.

RELATED: To My Husband: Thank You For Being A Great Man

That’s right, ladies. Your marriage needs other men in it. I’d rank this up there with date nights and marriage devotionals. While it’s extremely important to invest in our marriages by spending time together, great value can also come from the time not spent together. The time our men spend in community with other men who provide authentic friendship and a biblical support system produces transformation and growth that not only affects them but all areas of their lives. And that includes their relationships with their wives.

Although my husband and I are all about adding romance, adventure, and spice to our marriage, sometimes it’s the unsexy, non-glamourous marriage tips that can have the most impact. It’s subtle yet significant. And it’s a simple gift we ladies can grant our husbands.

We give the gift of encouragement by expressing a desire to see him encouraged by other men. We give the gift of acknowledgment by recognizing the fact that there are some things he just needs to talk through man-to-man. We give the gift of liberation by releasing him from the guilt of adding one more thing to his agenda that may shorten family time. Because, let’s face it, that family time will be all the more fulfilling for everyone when he’s filled.

I am so thankful for these men who pour into my husband, not only for his sake but for all those in his life. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. The very least I can do is fill their bellies with baked goods.

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Christen McKey

Christen McKey writes, mothers, and joyfully camps, often all at the same time. She shares about the world of camping in her children’s book, The Joyful Camper, available on Amazon. Christen also utilizes her communication skills at a non-profit Christian ministry. When she’s not traveling to state parks with her family and logging camping details for her website, she enjoys time at home in Virginia with her husband, kids, and mountain dog.  @christen.mckey @wordycamper

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