Every husband needs encouragement every once in a while. (So does every wife, for that matter, ahem:). I know mine does. Lately things have been a little stressful at work for him, and I've been trying to do what I can to affirm and encourage him. That's part of my God-given job description.
As working or stay-at-home moms, we do a lot. But our husbands do a lot too. And it's not about who does more. It's about being the woman we want to be when we grow up.
It doesn't matter who works harder. Who takes the trash out. Who meal plans, grocery shops, cooks dinner, and does the dishes afterwards. Who is more exhausted. Who brings home (more of) the bacon. Who is more tired at the end of the day. Who steps up. Who gives more. Who bathes the kids.
What matters is that we are grownups now. And marriage isn't a "if he just does this then I would do that" kind of thing. We should strive now to be the woman God calls us to be and the woman our husbands need us to be. And our husbands need us to stand with them for better or for worse--in life and in marriage.
Besides being the most faithful of prayer warriors for your husband, here are some ways to encourage him in your daily life together. And take most of these just as suggestions that you can spring your own ideas from. Every couple is different--do what will be meaningful for you and your husband. :)
10 Ways to Encourage Your Husband:
1. Be kind to him - I read a great blog post a few weeks ago at Grace Full Mama called "A Kind Wife." The blogger, Joy, said that she once gave her husband a long list of things she could do for him every day. She was exhausted with raising their children and keeping up their home, and she wanted him to prioritize what meant the most to him so that she could focus more on those things. She wrote things like, "bake fresh bread for your lunches," "keep up with the laundry," and "maintain a clean, picked up house." After she gave him the list, he returned it to her with all the items on the list scratched through. At the top of the list, he wrote something that speaks for itself!
“...Get enough rest and say no to enough activities so that you have the energy to be NICE TO ME (and the kids) when I'm home. Honestly, I appreciate the rest of it, but don't really care that much if it comes at the expense of the first two things up at the top of the list. Maybe you think that I think you're a bad wife or mom if you don't do this stuff. If so, that is wrong. I would much rather have a messy house, make my own lunches from white, store-bought bread, have no snacks, etc. etc., but have a nice, happy wife who likes me, than the other way around... It’s my best friend I fell in love with and want to hang out with, not my maid!”
2. Say "thank you" - I know it sounds cheesy...but thank your husbands. For working to support you and the kids. For being tired and stressed out ultimately for your sake. For being cooped up in an office on a beautiful day when he'd rather be spending time with his family or doing something outdoors. For being a good man. Find a way to thank him that is genuine, though. I promise he'll be blown away, even if he doesn't act like it. :)
3. Take a Mommy's Night Out once a week - Or once a month, if that's the season of life you're in right now. For about six months now, I've been fairly faithful to going out by myself (or with a newborn, if needed:) for a few hours one night a week. I got this idea from a friend, a single mom with three children who is very faithful to taking her night out every week. Usually, I go to a coffee shop and blog or read, but once a month I go to adoration or a two-hour evening mini retreat offered by a great group downtown. It's still hard to leave pretty much every week, but it's been good for Michael to spend time with the kids by himself. He has even admitted that. It's been incredibly helpful and rejuvenating for me to take some time to myself. I feel I have the state-of-mind and energy to be a better wife when I get this short, but rich time to myself regularly!
4. Make his lunch - Growing up, a sandwich always tasted better when my Mom made it for me. I guess it's the same with leftovers at my house. :) Michael loves when I make his lunch for him, even when it's usually just leftovers. Having me pack up last night's pot roast and mashed potatoes with an orange and a granola bar every morning is just something that means a lot to him. A special thing that I do additionally, though, is browse through the Psalms and Proverbs each morning (well, most mornings) and pick out an encouraging verse to scribble on some scratch paper and hide in his lunch bag for him.
5. Text (or email) him during the day - "Hope you're having a good day, sweetie. Get excited for dinner--I'm making something special tonight. See you this afternoon :)" Michael loves when I communicate with him during the day. Some people may not have the luxury of being able to call or text their spouse at work, but if you can, definitely do it! And don't call just to ask when they're coming home and if they can pick up milk and two shallots on the way home. Call them to see how they're doing. Call them without wanting something from them.
6. Ask him for his opinion - I realized some time ago that I almost never asked Michael for his opinion on things. I'm not talking about what to wear to so-and-so's wedding. I'm talking about his opinion on if an action I'm considering taking on something is appropriate. Or if he thinks a swimsuit I'm considering buying is too immodest. Or if he thinks a blog post I'm writing is charitable enough. I have been blown away by his responses sometimes. He takes it seriously when I seriously ask him for his opinion on something that's important to me.
7. Praise him in front of other people - All too often, we fall into the trap of husband-bashing. Even if it's in the name of making other people laugh, it's certainly not building our men up. And what isn't building them up certainly isn't building our marriages up. There's a place for fun and gently poking at one another, but oh how powerful a witness it is to both your husband and to others when you praise him in front of others! "Gosh, Michael is so good at that! He's helped me work on myself in that area so much since we got married!" "I'm so proud of him lately...he's working 13-hour days and you know what?--the man hardly complains!"
8. Be his loudest cheerleader - My husband is a dreamer. He's a vibrant, ambitious, intelligent, charismatic, going-places kind of guy. And he needs me to have faith in him. Most of the time, I don't have to try. He's amazing and he takes incredible care of our family. But if he fails--and Mother Teresa reminds us that God calls us not to be successful, but only faithful--I will still have faith in him. That's my job. He needs me to be his most ardent fan, his loudest cheerleader. And he needs me to cheer from my heart. Sometimes, I really have to pray hard to find the way and the trust in God to cheer Michael on in his dreams, but God always provides. And if God needs me to give Michael some gentle or practical input on those dreams, He provides the timing and words for me too--if I ask Him.
9. Respect him with your words and actions - Now please don't go and assume I've subscribed to the Journal of Creepy Extremist Subserviant Wife Mumbo Jumbo. :) (But, there is a beautiful, tiny little nugget of truth in that particular right field; check out Dr. Brant Pitre's surprising and powerful talk, "Wives do WHAT?!" for a must-hear Scripture-based explanation of the dreaded Ephesians 5!). Watch your tone. Don't be confrontational. Think about it. If another man came up to your husband and acted or spoke to him like you do, how would he feel and react? Men are made differently from us, and truly have a God-given, real need and desire for unconditional respect as a man from their wives--apart from their performance. The Bible tells women over and over to respect their husbands. But the Bible tells men over and over to love their wives. When you're husband does something unloving, the last thing we want to do is be respectful in any way, but that's something we have to try to find in ourselves to do. In the end, our respect will motivate his love, and their love will motivate our respect.
10. Be playful - Our husbands are our friends. It's easy to forget that sometimes after saying "I do." One thing friends do is laugh together. Call him in the room when the kids do something funny. When he asks for a big glass of water, fill up your biggest pitcher when he's not looking and casually serve it to him. Text him a picture of a Ferrari you sat in traffic next to on the interstate this morning. Give him a go-get-'em whack on the behind as he's walking out the door to work in the morning. Surprise him by doing something goofy when he least expects it. He'll love it. He'll love you.
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