Have you and your husband been butting heads lately? Can you sense resentment against him growing in your heart? Does he seem frustrated with you? Well, the good news is that you’re not alone. This is pretty common in marriage. The bad news is that if you don’t do something about this, it will likely ruin your marriage!
As my husband and I have mentored couples, we’ve found a little tool to be really helpful. We ask the husband and wife to sit down over a series of “dates” and discuss each other’s expectations in all sorts of areas; everything from the balance of responsibilities for chores to what Christmas celebrations should be like. We all hold subconscious expectations in these areas but we rarely intentionally reveal those expectations to our spouse. Then we get frustrated and annoyed that they don’t meet our undisclosed expectations!
How about if you bless your spouse by initiating a series of dates to honestly discuss expectations. Proverbs 24:26 says “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips”. By each of you being honest and open about your desires and hopes, you will grow more intimate and truly begin to understand each other. Visit the “free resources” tab on our website (www.squadronofsisters.com) to print out a list of topics for your husband and you to discuss.
Many powerful and influential male leaders have attributed much of the reason for their success to their wives. Billy Graham is one of those leaders. When his wife died in 2007, he told reporters “My work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.”
Our husbands need our encouragement and esteem in order to have the boldness and confidence to accomplish great things. In Genesis 2:18, God makes it clear that women were created because men need help. God said “It is not good for man to be alone. I will create a helper suitable for him.” That helper is us, and one of the biggest ways we can help our husbands is by encouraging them with our words.
With that in mind, here are some words that your man longs to hear from you:
I need you
Thank you for taking such good care of me
I’m so proud to be your wife
You have a good heart
I believe in you
You’re so strong
I know you can do it
You’re a good provider
I trust you to lead our family
You’re a good man
Our husbands battle the world every day at their jobs. Co-workers stab them in the back. Other men put them down in order to look more important. The culture tells your man he is a failure if he doesn’t own a Mercedes and he can’t dunk like LeBron James.
So when your man comes home to you, the last thing he needs is to feel like a failure in your eyes too. However, our words often unintentionally communicate just that! Perhaps this is why God felt it necessary to actually instruct wives in Ephesians 5:33 that “the wife must respect her husband”.
Even if your husband has disappointed you, you can still be respectful as you address his behavior, request changes, and establish boundaries. However, if you condemn him and belittle him in that moment of disappointment, you shred his heart. As a result, he will likely turn his heart away from you, self-medicate his pain in destructive ways, or simply stop trying to be a good man since you don’t see anything good in him anyway!
With the need to respect your husband in mind, here are some words you should never say to your man:
You always….(insert complaint)
You never… (insert complaint)
Why don’t you ever…?
I don’t respect you
I feel like your mother
If people only knew what you are really like
You don’t make enough money
How many times do I have to tell you…?
That’s not the right way to do it
I don’t need you
I’ll never be able to trust you
You’re a jerk
We’re all going to have moments (or weeks or months!) that we’re disappointed with our husband. No man is perfect, and your husband is bound to frustrate you, annoy you, or fail to meet your expectations from time to time. The question is: How can you keep from being seriously discouraged or resentful during those times? I have found 4 things to be really helpful:
1) Clearly communicate your expectations and desires! Our men are not mind-readers, yet often we expect our husbands to “just know”! So, think about the areas in which you’ve been frustrated or disappointed. Then calmly and clearly tell your husband what you desire or need, as well as how much you’d appreciate him making an effort to meet those needs and desires.
2) Be grateful for what he does right! Isn’t it strange how we tend to gravitate to focusing on what our husband is doing wrong, but barely give a second thought to what he’s doing right?! Stop right now and ask God to help you see the many good things about your husband and the positive things he does. This is the essence of Philippians 4:8… “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such thing.”
3) If your husband is actually sinning against you, it’s time to stop wringing your hands and it may be time to take action! In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus instructs us to confront the person who sins against us, and to even get others involved if necessary.
4) Pray, and never give up! Prayer truly can move mountains, and Jesus tells us in Luke 18:1 that we “should always pray and not give up“. So go to battle in prayer, and ask God to reveal His love to your husband and to mold and shape your husband’s heart.
There’s a golden phrase I’ve discovered. It prevents my husband from getting defensive when I’m upset or concerned about something he has said or done. Instead of accusing him of doing something wrong, I have learned to kindly and sincerely ask this question: “Help me understand why…”
This simple question prevents the monster of defensiveness from raising its ugly head. By asking my husband to help me understand, I’m communicating two things to my husband. 1) I really do care about his perspective and feelings, and 2) I’m acknowledging there may actually be a legitimate reason for why he did or said whatever. At least, I’m giving him a chance to explain himself before I start arguing with him or condemning him!!
By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m avoiding a foolish argument. Proverbs 18:2 says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m pleasing both God and my husband by living out the instructions in Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should consider not only your own interests, but also the interests of others.”
Try this phrase when you sense a potential ugly argument is headed your way. You can not only use this phrase with your husband, but with your children, your in-laws, your co-workers, your boss, and more. Again, the phrase (actually a question) is….”Help me understand why…”
Men are wired differently than women. Duh! One of the ways most men differ from us is that, instead of sitting and talking about their feelings and deepest longings, they like to do stuff. You may not realize it, but most husbands really want their wives to do stuff with them! They want to spend time with you.
This is really made apparent way back at the creation of the world. Right after God created man, He said in Genesis 2:18, “It’s not good for man to be alone. I will create a helper suitable for him.” God knew Adam needed companionship!
Make it a point this week to show some interest in joining your husband in one of his hobbies or activities or even one of his errands. Does he like to golf? I bet he would love for you to go with him and watch him, or have him give you a lesson on how to play golf if you don’t already know. Does he like to ride a bicycle? Get a bike and take a ride with him. Does he like to tinker with fixing up old cars? Sit and watch him and ask if he can explain what he’s doing. Maybe you can hand him a tool as he works. Does he need to pick up some paint at a home improvement store? Ask if you can tag along.
Bonus: You’ll likely find that as you’re doing something together, men find it easier to talk to you! Look forward to some actual conversations. 🙂
Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death”. Oh my. Consider how many words a woman usually speaks in just one day, and you can see the potential for disaster!
It took me a couple decades to really understand this fact. The words spoken by a wife to her husband can either build him up and give him confidence to step up and be an even better man…or her words can tear him down to the point that he emotionally withdraws from her and doesn’t try to accomplish much of anything because he believes he’s a failure.
What kind of words are you speaking to your husband? Are you his biggest cheerleader? Do you intentionally encourage him every single day, or do you give in to the temptation to point out his many flaws on a regular basis? He NEEDS you to believe in him and encourage him. By the way, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hold him accountable or put boundaries in place if he is actively sinning against you. However, even then, you can address sinful behavior with an attitude that is loving and hopeful. You can still let your husband know that you see something good in him.