A Wife’s Eyes Are The Window To A Man’s Soul

A French poet once said, “Les yeux sont le miroir de l’âme or “the eyes are windows to the soul.” Here’s another thought. I believe the eyes of a wife are windows to the soul of her husband.

With few exceptions, you can gauge the measure of a man in the eyes of his wife.

Knowing this truth during the interview process of my career could have spared me great heartache. As a young man, I was taught it was vital to look into the eyes of the prospective leader.  But after a thirty year career and working under five highly charismatic men, I now realize the successful leader’s eyes provide only one aspect of the onerous tale of ascent to lofty places.

The eyes of the wife speak more truth than a thousand wooing words a man can utter. In the interview process, always have dinner with your prospective boss and his wife. Take time to see the untold story that lies behind her eyes. Look carefully and deeply, for your future could be at stake.

I realize that I’m completely neglecting the possibility the boss could be a woman. I understand that. But the point of this story (and my life experience) is that of a male leader. I would greatly value someone’s experience of the opposite scenario.

Here are six types of wives eyes that have mostly haunted and rarely encouraged my career.

1.) Neglected Eyes — These eyes can be found in the leader’s wife who realizes the adoration and attention of fawning followers will never be directed her way. Her job is to be invisible. She does not receive acknowledgment by the followers in awe of her celebrity leader, nor is she acknowledged or included by her husband. His need for affirmation and worship is too insatiable to be shared—with anyone. She is a wallflower who knows her place. Most people have difficulty remembering her name and she is rarely, if ever, introduced as an equal by her husband.

2.) Hungry Eyes — Be very careful grasshopper. These eyes could wreck your career forever. They are a lose-lose glimpse into a gray vortex of destruction. Yes, it’s flattering. Yes, it’s titillating. Yes, its tempting. But the husband leader who has left her empty and wanting, once betrayed, will usually redirect the hatred of himself to everyone within reach. And a thousand woes be to the one who dares replace him by succoring his hungry wife.

3.) Spurned Eyes — The eyes of this wife tell the tale of a husband’s passionate, all-consuming illicit lover. His job. William Congreve in a play called The Mourning Bride writes this infamous line, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” The hatred of the spurned woman for both husband and lover seethe underneath her eyes like a smoldering inferno. She may attempt to kill her husband’s lover by slowly and subtly undermining and destroying it. Beware.

4.) Entitled Eyes — These eyes could be the most dangerous. She controls her husband and his job. The church or corporation is her fiefdom. Sure, to the public, it seems as if the charismatic male is the leader, but make no mistake, this woman has no equal. Cross her—and you are mysteriously and suddenly gone. Somehow, she has found a way to control or blackmail the man leader and lock him in a vise-grip of control. No matter how wonderful he seems, if you see the eyes of entitlement in the wife—run away as fast as you can.

5.) Puppy Eyes — These are the fawning eyes of a humble servant. A woman who knows her “biblical” place. Look deeply into these eyes and all you find is empty slavery. If you are brave enough to look deeper—you will find utter despair. No opinion. No disagreement. Her job is to do her husband’s bidding. Challenge him. God forbid. The leader/man who encourages this behavior is a weak person indeed. He is half the man he could be.

6.) Fulfilled Eyes —Ah, yes. A rare and beautiful sight. These are the eyes of an equal. A woman who is “comfortable in her own skin” and “in touch with her soul.” She is valued by her husband as a person of inestimable worth. And she handles it with aplomb. A teammate in every sense of the word. No matter if that entails motherhood, business advice, sexual intimacy, leadership or candid conversation, she thrills to the challenge. The husband/leader acknowledges her invaluable contribution to his success in a healthy manner.  She comes first, then family, followed by the job. There is an obvious mutual respect. Candid discourse and challenge is meted out and encouraged by both male and female. No neglect, hunger, scorn, entitlement, or fawning in these eyes. Just confidence and freedom to be who she was created to be.

Have you ever looked into one of these eyes?

Have I missed one?

I value your candid thoughts.

67 thoughts on “A Wife’s Eyes Are The Window To A Man’s Soul

  1. I’m thinking Entitled Eyes come to mind right now… Oh the clarity of hindsight.

  2. “To be held in the heart of a friend is to be a king.” So says poet extraordinaire Bruce Cockburn. I rather agree. (In light of Randy’s theme of the day) the corollary might sound like this….”to the man who (truly) holds his wifes heart well, theirs will be the kingdom. And their mutual Reign will be obvious. She and he.”

    The ring on my finger is not a reminder that I have said ‘NO’ to all others. Au contraire, it is a reminder that I have said YES to the one who has captured my heart. All of us settle for immediacy during the course of a day. However our hearts are hardwired to the insatiable longing for intimacy. Eyes that have tasted intimacy cannot be satisfied with less. Look around. You’ll see……

  3. i’ve tried to figure out how to respond. I’m not sure which eyes I belonged to. Maybe it was a combination, maybe it’s one you’ve missed…all i know is that I did belong to a pair of eyes that faked it and masked the real pair of eyes. masked them so well in fact, that nobody knew…a set of contacts per se. they looked real enough and people saw what they wanted to see, but the only ones who saw past the fake lenses were the ones i truly trusted. Here I am looking back at that woman with the sad eyes that nobody really saw or knew because they wanted to see the happy eyes they hoped to see.
    Strange, funny, amazing that today, I am the woman with fulfilled eyes. Amazing in the sense that I never thought this could be me. Amazing in the sense that I feel like a new woman and am so thankful to have this outlook…one that I’ve never had or known before in my life.
    Thank you for posting.

  4. This post keeps coming back to me .. I’m nearly 20 years into a second marriage, and my eyes are fulfilled. In the first, my eyes revealed emptiness and neglect. I used a terrible thing as a crutch to find the strength to leave that marriage .. fell for someone who put positive self-awareness back in my eyes, but it was a false foundation and so crumbled. Only later, when I’d been completely broken, was i open to accept the husband who put .. and keeps .. the fulfilled, cherished, loving, happy look back in my eyes.

    I know a man who is single now, but has been married three times (he’s a former pastor). I knew his last two wives, and that barren, haunted look was there in both. It was so painful to watch the woman i knew before, during and after her marriage to him. The problem was, he loved his wives .. but he couldn’t let them be themselves. He doggedly pushed and nagged and did everything he could to try to change those women, until they were mere shells of themselves. Once he mentioned the third one to me, saying something about a change he wanted her to make. I was too hesitant to say that what i loved so much about my husband is that he not only “allows” me to be me, he does everything possible to support me, to help me grow, to succeed and to accomplish whatever it is that I’m aiming for. I am so very, very blessed, and so very, very grateful for God’s forgiveness, redemption and redeeming grace.

      1. @Randy Elrod, I have a photo from 20 years ago .. a “glamour” photo that was staged for a work project. I hate it. It shows a beautiful woman with the saddest, emptiest eyes. Problem was, at the time I thought I was happy. I was living at a frantic pace and so, so far from God. I also love this photo. It reminds me of His graces and how far He’s brought me. Redemption is a wonderful thing!

  5. Love,love,LOVE the story of the eight cow wife. Hadn’t heard it for years. ;!

  6. My husband was most recently at a church where the established pastor had “Entitled Eyes.” But he took the position at face value and even took the leadership at their word when he was told that he needed to ‘do something’ about the wife behind the eyes. Cost him big time. Definitely the most dangerous. I know of other ministers who moved on (voluntarily or not) because of this dynamic in the church leadership. Sad. Sad. Sad.

  7. I don’t want to judge, offend or kill the fun or joy here but I don’t know what you wanted to write there in French. I don’t understand. I did check it and wanted to ask my cousins in France but had no time. As far as I understand it is : les yeux sont le miroir de l’âme.

  8. Speaking from the side of the wife, so often when we meet new folks we present our false selves or wear a mask. It’s vital to reveal our true feelings about our husbands. I want the world to know what a wonderful man I’m married to. When I openly respect him, others do too.

    1. @Audra Krell, So true, Audra. Thanks for the wife’s perspective! My life coach calls it “Couching our terms” or as you put it presenting our false selves. That’s one reason I love parties with wine. In Vino Veritas. Where there is wine there is truth!!

  9. May be one of the best blogs I have read recently. It made me take a closer look at Diane’s eyes today. Thanks

  10. First thing I will do this week when I get home is to look deep into my wife’s eyes! Her eyes are the guage of of our relationship during these 20 years of marriage.

    Thanks for this great reminder!

    1. @Kristina, Thanks, Kristina, for joining the conversation. I LOVE captivating eyes. I am painting the song “El Shaddai” for Amy Grant’s Fall Tour (An evening of art and music) and I’m hoping to capture a tiny glimpse of the eyes of God. I’m sure His are the most captivating of all.

  11. I love this. I read somewhere that if you want to know if a man is a good person you have to look at his wife. If she is happy and glowing than he is good. I’m not sure if I put it out here well.

    I had a manager I did not trust. I heard him speak to his girlfriend in a way no woman wants to be treated that way. My colleague told me many times that they didn’t like her because she was always looking down. But I knew better. When I met her I asked her how she was and smiled at her and she smiled back at me and wasn’t down at all. After a while everybody found out he was not a good manager, not nice to work with or for.

    Ever since I “met” you here I wished I met your wife. Just to see how she glows, knowing how good you are to her. (the thing is I’m expecting her to glow). And than ask you to hire me to work for you. Or better, hire me to work for your wife! She must be the best boss. Yes. Okay, I’m coming over. (kidding, crazy girl.) Bye bye.

    1. @Ani, Ha! my wife is a wonderful lady indeed. I wish I could take more credit, but she is a powerful and precious woman in her own right. I am very blessed. Thanks, Ani, for making the conversation here so thoughtful and beautiful.

  12. Wow, what a post! It reminds me of a political campaign ad I have been seeing on tv. At the end of the commercial the wife is standing by her husband the candidate. She is looking up at him while he speaks but then in the very last moment she lowers her lashes just a tad as she looks at him and it always makes me think that she is thinking what a pompous boob he is, like she is trying not to roll her eyes. I kid you not, I would not vote for that man based on this slight look that takes place at the end…

  13. Randy, good topic. Wives in general don’t garner enough ink. Maybe husbands don’t either.

    Thankfully, I’ve not seen them in my wife’s eyes, but I’ve seen them in the eyes of other wives. Unfortunately. Contempt. Not hatred or unhappiness, but sheer contempt. I’ve never understood it, but I’ve had husbands express knowing their wives couldn’t stand them, and held them in contempt.

    But I have seen in my wife’s eyes the look of bliss. It’s a look that drives me quite often – to help her feel more bliss in her life. It’s a look that goes beyond happiness. It goes beyond comfort. I can’t put it into words, but I know the look when I see it. Working to see it is worth the effort. The look is the reward, too.

    Good stuff.

  14. i’ve always thought you can tell a lot about a marriage by what you see in the wife’s eyes… (which makes me wonder why no one saw the truth in mine…)

    1. @alece,
      Alece, maybe they saw it and didn’t know how to respond? What do you wish people might’ve done or said that would’ve helped?

      1. @Emily, i endured 18 months of my husband’s affair while he actively denied it. i guess i’m just surprised that when he finally admitted the truth, no one else had seen it coming or noticed how un-alive i’d become in the process. definitely not blaming anyone, just surprised.

        1. @alece, I didn’t at all get the feeling you were blaming anyone. I’m sitting here thinking of people in my life with that ‘un-alive look’ and wonder how to reach out and help. Surely there are ways a person’s friends can offer support in ways that are helpful.

          1. @Emily, i know, for me, simply feeling seen (rather than invisible) makes a world of difference. and that starts the path to feeling safe enough to confide in that person. it differs with each individual, but maybe look for small, consistent ways to make your friends feel seen, noticed, cared for…

  15. Thanks for voicing this from a man’s perspective. I believe you’re right on the money here.

    I mentioned to my husband several years ago that I had a bad feeling about someone we met because his wife didn’t look happy or cared for. It even showed up in little things. For instance, she wore old, outdated clothing while he looked like a million bucks. She seemed to feel/act invisible and he was the glory boy… It just seemed that the two of them didn’t match. Yet because I’m a woman, I probably blamed my woman-radar for being overly sensitive.

    It’s interesting to look back on that relationship after reading your post, because my husband ended up working with that person. He was a glory boy for sure, and easily threatened. Wish I had trusted the woman radar. This post offers a ton of wisdom that will save a lot of people from toxic situations.


    condensed from Woman’s Day Patricia McGerr

    When I sailed to Kiniwata, an island in the Pacific, I took along a notebook. After I got back it was filled with descriptions of flora and fauna, native customs and costume. But the only note that still interests me is the one that says: “Johnny Lingo gave eight cows to Sarita’s father.” And I don’t need to have it in writing. I’m reminded of it every time I see a woman belittling her husband or a wife withering under her husband’s scorn. I want to say to them, “You should know why Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for his wife.”

    Johnny Lingo wasn’t exactly his name. But that’s what Shenkin, the manager of the guest house on Kiniwata, called him. Shenkin was from Chicago and had a habit of Americanizing the names of the islanders. But Johnny was mentioned by many people in many connections. If I wanted to spend a few days on the neighboring island of Nurabandi, Johnny Lingo would put me up. If I wanted to fish he could show me where the biting was best. If it was pearls I sought, he would bring the best buys. The people of Kiniwata all spoke highly of Johnny Lingo. Yet when they spoke they smiled, and the smiles were slightly mocking.

    “Get Johnny Lingo to help you find what you want and let him do the bargaining,” advised Shenkin. “Johnny knows how to make a deal.”
    “Johnny Lingo! A boy seated nearby hooted the name and rocked with laughter.
    “What goes on?” I demanded. “everybody tells me to get in touch with Johnny Lingo and then breaks up. Let me in on the joke.”
    “Oh, the people like to laugh,” Shenkin said, shruggingly. “Johnny’s the brightest, the strongest young man in the islands, And for his age, the richest.”
    “But if he’s all you say, what is there to laugh about?”
    “Only one thing. Five months ago, at fall festival, Johnny came to Kiniwata and found himself a wife. He paid her father eight cows!

    I knew enough about island customs to be impressed. Two or three cows would buy a fair-to-middling wife, four or five a highly satisfactory one. “Good Lord!” I said, “Eight cows! She must have beauty that takes your breath away.” “She’s not ugly,” he conceded, and smiled a little. “But the kindest could only call Sarita plain. Sam Karoo, her father, was afraid she’d be left on his hands.”
    “But then he got eight cows for her? Isn’t that extraordinary?”
    “Never been paid before.”
    “Yet you call Johnny’s wife plain?”
    “I said it would be kindness to call her plain. She was skinny. She walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow.”
    “Well,” I said, “I guess there’s just no accounting for love.”
    “True enough,” agreed the man. “And that’s why the villagers grin when they talk about Johnny. They get special satisfaction from the fact that the sharpest trader in the islands was bested by dull old Sam Karoo.”
    “But how?”
    “No one knows and everyone wonders. All the cousins were urging Sam to ask for three cows and hold out for two until he was sure Johnny’d pay only one. Then Johnny came to Sam Karoo and said, ‘Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.’”
    “Eight cows,” I murmured. “I’d like to meet this Johnny Lingo.”
    “And I wanted fish. I wanted pearls. So the next afternoon I beached my boat at Nurabandi. And I noticed as I asked directions to Johnny’s house that his name brought no sly smile to the lips of his fellow Nurabandians. And when I met the slim, serious young man, when he welcomed me with grace to his home, I was glad that from his own people he had respect unmingled with mockery. We sat in his house and talked. Then he asked, “You come here from Kiniwata?”
    “They speak of me on that island?”
    “They say there’s nothing I might want they you can’t help me get.”
    He smiled gently. “My wife is from Kiniwata.”
    “Yes, I know.”
    “They speak of her?”
    “A little.”
    “What do they say?”
    “Why, just…” The question caught me off balance. “They told me you were married at festival time.”
    “Nothing more?” The curve of his eyebrows told me he knew there had to be more.
    They also say the marriage settlement was eight cows.” I paused.
    “They wonder why.”
    “They ask that?” His eyes lightened with pleasure. “Everyone in Kiniwata knows about the eight cows?”
    I nodded.
    “And in Nurabandi everyone knows it too.” His chest expanded with satisfaction. “Always and forever, when they speak of marriage settlements, it will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Sarita.”
    So that’s the answer, I thought: vanity.

    And then I saw her. I watched her enter the room to place flowers on the table. She stood still a moment to smile at the young man beside me. Then she went swiftly out again. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin the sparkle of her eyes all spelled a pride to which no one could deny her the right. I turned back to Johnny Lingo and found him looking at me. “You admire her?” he murmured. “She…she’s glorious. But she’s not Sarita from Kiniwata,” I said.

    “There’s only one Sarita. Perhaps she does not look the way they say she looked in Kiniwata.” “She doesn’t. I heard she was homely. They all make fun of you because you let yourself be cheated by Sam Karoo.”
    “You think eight cows were too many?” A smile slid over his lips. “No. But how can she be so different?”
    “Do you ever think,” he asked, “what it must mean to a woman to know that her husband has settled on the lowest price for which she can be bought? And then later, when the women talk, they boast of what their husbands paid for them. One says four cows, another maybe six. How does she feel, the woman who was sold for one or two?” This could not happen to my Sarita.”
    “Then you did this just to make your wife happy?”
    “I wanted Sarita to be happy, yes. But I wanted more than that. You say she is different This is true. Many things can change a woman. Things that happen inside, things that happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands.” “Then you wanted -”
    “I wanted to marry Sarita. I loved her and no other woman.”
    “But —” I was close to understanding.
    “But,” he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

  17. I’m interested in hearing about “Johnny LIngo’s Eight Cow Wife” as well.

    It seems wise to intentionally include #6 people into my social and professional world as much as possible. Whether they are the leader’s wife or not, these people will bring a greater depth of relationship to my world. The #6 is obviously the result of a strong relationship, and are the kind of folks who will support and strengthen my own marriage. Healthy people help other healthy people stay healthy. or something like that.

    Hey, our moms were right. We do reflect the company that we keep.

    Great post.


  18. This is such an insightful post. It is so true! You definitely can judge a person’s leadership style, along with their lifestyle, by the way they treat those close to them. I always like to see the spouses of people I work with– it gives a huge insight into the employee’s true self.

    Thanks for the insightful article.

  19. Your last woman is especially captivating, and alluring. It is interesting – most people see her and don’t realize her loveliness is bestowed by the lover. I wish all men knew that they too could have ‘Johnny Lingo’s Eight Cow Wife’ I love seeing the rare older woman who portrays and mirrors this exact thing. Brilliant post.

  20. Wonderful Randy! I think I’ve done this in interviews without really realizing what I was doing. I always want to meet the spouse of someone I’m interviewing… always very telling.

  21. I think you might have six eyes in your list, Randy. Very insightful blog post! And very, very true.

    1. Its funny that we find alot of what Jesus said and had written in His word, reflects in RL.

      1 Corinthians 11:7 talks about the woman being the “glory” of the man. In the Bible, glory means to give a right opinion of. Or have a right opinion of. To know something or someone as they are.

      Just like you said, if you want to know what the man is like, look at his wife. =D

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