What Your Husband Really Needs
Not long ago, I went through an incredible book called Men of Courage.
My closest friends and I wanted to grow in our understanding and knowledge of the male mind and thought this would be a great place to start. Though my husband and I have been together for nearly 10 years, as I flipped through the pages, it was as though I was listening in on a deep, brotherly conversation.
I knew there were differences in our needs, but had no idea how big of a role those needs played into his various relationships. Seeing certain proclivities and hindrances he has simply because he is a man was eye-opening and I haven’t seen him the same since. I would love to impart this same wonderful knowledge onto you, so here goes.
Your husband has three things he longs to hear and needs to know:
He isn’t alone.
It can be done.
He can do it.
He isn’t alone.
Yes, I know you live under the same roof, see each other daily, debrief about your days occasionally and on and on, but in your marriage, there is a big difference between syncing and partnering. Syncing seeks to make sure everything gets done while partnering seeks to make sure everyone is cared for.
Your husband has unique struggles, obstacles, responsibilities and relationships that he is constantly juggling. You have the opportunity and joy of being his consistent safe haven. You get to know him in ways others simply cannot-for better or worse. He needs that intimacy, both physically and emotionally and to know that he doesn’t have to do life alone, even if he thinks he can handle it.
What would it look like to remind him of your partnership? When was the last time you asked him what he needed, how he is feeling, how you can help him or told him what you admire about him? What would your marriage look like if you started each day by reminding him that you choose him and that he isn’t alone?
It can be done.
(Having awareness of who he is)
Partnership also requires a “knowing” of the other. In order to help him or seek his good, you need to be aware of what he is facing. This means not minimizing or fixing things for him nor does it mean listening inattentively, but rather, being present with him.
At one point in time, your husband was a little boy with dreams and goals and a desire to find his place and purpose in life. Then reality set in. Maybe his Dad left, maybe a close loved one died, maybe he made some pretty bad choices or had to grow up fast and care for himself. At some point, some of those desires have faded, been lost or just overlooked for years. And chances are, he still has some dreams, desires, goals.
Do you know what those are? Have you asked him to plan with you and envision where he wants to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? Do you know his story and what he has lived, are sitting with him in the reality of the now and do you know where he wants to go?
He can do it.
(Giving respect and encouragement)
In ten years of marriage and eight years of counseling and ministry, I have never heard a husband utter the words, “she compliments me too much”. Far more often, we women tend to either be silent or use our words as some means of torture for tearing apart every little nuance about our husbands that drives us crazy.
I once made a chart tallying how many comments that came out of my mouth were critical vs encouraging for an entire day. Let's just say that my husband and three children are very forgiving. Your words have more power than you could ever imagine. I often tell my children that we can use our words to bring life to people or to bring death; to build others up or tear them down. Even if your husband isn’t a “words of affirmation” guy, reminding him that you believe in him, admire him and are committed to walking this life out with him will never grow old.
Remind him of the character in him that won you over to begin with, for the ways he uses his gifts and skill sets to love and build others up or provide for you. I’m not asking you to pretend he doesn't have flaws or to ignore when he wrongs or hurts you. But a man who has been built up in love, by the words of his wife, will be far more likely to handle criticism when it is needed.
It is a weighty task to be an encouraging, attentive wife. It is not for the faint of heart. But take courage: you’re not alone, it can be done, you can do it.
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Written by Kim Bogardus
Kim and her husband, Nick, live in Orange County with their three energetic kiddos. They planted Cross of Christ Church and enjoy all the chaos and joys of ministry. Kim loves teaching, counseling, and baking and has a passion to see women live with courage through owning their story and being content with who and where they are.