I love my husband. He is funny, witty, kind and an incredible dad.
Our marriage is amazing. Except that some days it's not. Some days it's hard. Fiercely hard. Some days I want to yank out his hair and tell him everything I think he's doing wrong. Loudly. In his face.
I know we're not the only ones who struggle this way. I've been to book stores and seen rows upon rows of ways for spouses to be better at marriage. I've seen the high divorce rates. I've counseled couples during some of their lowest seasons.
I wrestle daily with what it means to be a wife who honors her husband. How can I encourage him? How can I compel him to more? How can I offer rest? Hope? How can I make him happy? Here are six things I've found to be helpful.
1. Offer your unwavering support.
In a 2014 research study conducted by The Austin Institute, women were more likely to be unhappy in marriage than men. Rather than explore what our expectations are in marriage and our reactions to them, we tend to do things like nag or correct, or stop dreaming all together so that we are never disappointed. Perhaps we even do things like accuse our husbands of being "black holes of joy."
As moms and wives, we like to fix things and to alleviate discomfort. One of our tasks in marriage is to help reveal God's glory in our spouses, and this comes by encouragement and support. This can be verbal or silent, but what's most important is that your husband knows that he has your unwavering support.
2. Identify what you love about your husband.
How do you share that with him? How do you see Christ in his life? Bless him by naming that and pointing it out when it happens.
Men want to know if they have what it takes to successfully engage the world. Most of the men I know, including my husband, benefit immensely from a good woman's belief that they can enter a world of futility and push back some thorns.
3. Share your expectations.
I cringe to think about how many times I have hurt my husband by either correcting everything he does or by not expressing my disappointment.
Husbands and dads cannot read minds. He needs you to share with him. He also needs you to approach him with a gentle strength. How would you want to hear that he is disappointed with you?
Many times we expect perfection from our spouses, so we get mad when he doesn't fill the dishwasher the way we want him to. Other times, we don't expect anything, so we lay out clothes for the kids when he's dressing them because we don't think he knows how. Neither of those approaches really calls a husband to more.
Instead, be vocal and clear about your expectations. And offer feedback. If you don't see eye-to-eye, then make a compromise.
4. Encourage him to be more.
Ask God for insight into how He is developing your husband.
Ask God, "How are you revealing your glory, your redemption, your image, in my spouse?" Don't concentrate on what he isn't, or what you think he should be, or what you see in your neighbors' stories. Concentrate on what could be in him. There are normally three different plans of action for this.
- Some wives need to sit down with their husbands and express their sadness over his frequency of work or lack of engagement with their children. In this case, I encourage you to take the approach of what the experience is like for you rather than what he needs to fix. Then have courage to wait for his response. Warning: sometimes the wait is hard so pray for perseverance.
- Other wives might need to examine their own motives. Are you worried that because your husband works so much your friends might think you have problems? Do you refuse to have hobbies or friends so your husband can't? That's about you. Repent of those and ask for how you can rest in God's presence, in who God created you to be and in your marriage.
- Then there are some of us who might need to back off a little. Perhaps we need to let go of some things so that it allows our husbands to engage more. Maybe those dishes can wait one more night. Or maybe we can admit our anxiety about risk to free our husbands up for sharing as well. You may even begin to dream together about what marriage and fatherhood could be like.
5. Invite your husband to dream with you.
I know this may sound silly, but trust me, more wives need to whole-heartedly share their thoughts, dreams and desires with their husbands.
You are the best thing to give your husband. For whatever reason, you are the one God chose to be his wife. When you hold back your desires and thoughts, he loses. Invite him to dream with you. Scripture tells us that in God's kingdom, men have visions and dreams. They have hope. What are you hoping for? Share it. Work together for a common goal.
6. Avoid the "clanging-cymbal" approach.
Being a supportive, encouraging wife means you are compelled by love.
But if we do not have love, we're just clanging cymbals. To have love, you yourself must know God's love. And you must know it as caring and compelling. It is a risky one that changes us. Trust your husband to the Lord. And love him.
Article courtesy of HomeLife magazine.