I remember glaring at him across our kitchen table with a disdain in my eyes that was equally real in my heart: “When are you going to just man-up and take care of it?”
It was early in my marriage and I didn’t know then what I know now. We had been fighting about something stupid for days, neither one of us willing to stand down. I wasn’t anticipating the power of my words, but they obviously dealt a heavy blow. His eyes got as big as saucers and shock covered his face. Then I watched while his whole countenance changed from adversarial to brokenhearted.
I didn’t realize that the very thing I was asking him to do—to be a man— was the part of him I’d been chipping away, bit by bit, ever since our wedding day.
Most women don’t intend to become a wife that controls, degrades, and henpecks their husbands. I certainly didn’t. It just sort of happens; an unhappy result of the curses inherited from the fall of man combined with a culture that tries to domesticate everything.
At some point, just a few short years after this particular squabble, my marriage reached an impasse at a deadly cliff and only survived by the grace and intervention of God. I’ve learned a few things since then that I love to share with other women in hopes of preventing them from making the same mistakes I did.
Real quick—if you are in a relationship where you are being verbally, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused— please read this post instead. I have a very different and specific message for you.
The truth is, most men are relatively simple. They want you to honor them in word and deed. They enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal. And they’d like some lovin’ on a regular basis. Give them these things, and they’ll treat you like a queen. They’ll gladly knock out your to-do list, give you a foot rub, and hang the moon for you while they’re at it. All you have to do to unlock this goodness is learn to let your husband be a man, and it starts with treating him like one.
Here are the 7 best ways I know how:
1. Let him take charge.
Men have a natural desire to lead and take charge, but all too often their women either shoot down their ideas or rush in and take over before the man has a chance. I did this for years! I didn’t realize that men and women think so differently. I believed that my husband’s thoughtful pause before making a decision meant he wasn’t going to make one (or wasn’t going to make one fast enough). So I plowed right over him and made all of the decisions for him. It got to the point that he was wary to take one misstep for fear of being corrected by me, overruled, or worse yet– ignored.
If your man asks you for instructions on how to do everything, it’s probably not because he doesn’t know how, he’s just learned you don’t like his way. If this happens a lot in your home it’s a good indication that you could take a step back and give your husband room to take charge. Perhaps apologize for being too overbearing and start giving him space to make decisions. If he asks for your opinion (or instructions) just smile sweetly and tell him you’ll be happy with whatever he chooses. Then follow through and mean it.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way.” –Psalm 37:23
2. Trust his judgement.
Your husband needs you to trust him to make good decisions. As the head of the home, he wants you to trust that he will make wise choices for your family, properly co-parent your children, and oh, I don’t know, put away the dishes in a reasonable fashion that doesn’t warrant a lecture.
I hear women say all the time that they trust their husbands, and then the second something isn’t done the exact way they would do it, they’re criticizing and nit-picking their man. I’ll tell you right now—he perceives that as not trusting him to carry out a simple task. Not everything has to be done your way. If the dishwasher gets loaded, and the kids get to bed, and the toilet gets cleaned– who cares if he didn’t do it the exact order and way that you would?
Parenting is a major area that I see many men become dejected by their wives criticism. A man is going to parent differently than a woman and we need to give them liberty to be fathers. Let him throw the kids in the air and catch them (even though it makes you cringe), encourage him to take them outside on adventures, and trust that even though he may discipline differently than you, it’s a good and natural thing for your children.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,
but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those
who have been trained by it.” –Hebrews 12:11
3. Treat him with respect.
Good old R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Have you noticed it’s conspicuously absent from our culture these days? Everyone is quick to point fingers when they’re not being respected but awfully slow to offer it as a courtesy freely given, not earned. The root of disrespect is entitlement. It’s a spirit that says, “I’m better. I deserve more. You owe me.” We don’t like to see it in our youth today, but what are we modeling?
Respect is more than what we say out loud. It’s our tone and body language that speak much louder than our actual words. If all you say is “What are you doing?” but you do it with an eye roll and a look on your face that clearly suggests you think he’s being an idiot, you may as well have just called the man an idiot. Your subtext won’t escape him because he’s not an idiot. He can read your irritation and disapproval through your tone and face the same way you can tell when another woman is being fake with you.
This isn’t just a nice suggestion on a list for us, wives. It’s a command from God. We’ve got to step it up in this area and help our men be all God made them to be.
“…The wife must respect her husband.” –Ephesians 5:33
4. Appreciate his contributions and accomplishments.
I know as well as the next gal how busy we all are. I have SO MUCH GRACE for that. I know that when your husband gets home you are just praying that he’ll offer to take on a little more tonight so you can enjoy some down time. Just keep in mind—he was up early, too. He worked all day, too. And he contributes more to the household than anyone realizes or appreciates, too.
Most men will gladly take the heavier load from their wives when they are appreciated and praised for all they do. They want you to notice how hard they work, the things they sacrifice, and all the times they put you and the kids first. And, just like us, they want to be appreciated for it.
Have you ever read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? Awesome book, if you haven’t! I’m kind of convinced, though, that all men need “Words of Affirmation.” If you’re not familiar with the concept, what I mean is that men need to hear their women say words like “Thank you,” “I appreciate you,” “I’m sorry,” and “You’re amazing. Thank you for all you do for this family.” These simple phrases melt most men into puddles. We carry so much power in our words.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.” –Proverbs 18:21
5. Give him time to pursue his interests.
I could literally create a whole separate post about how over-scheduled we are these days and how it’s killing our families. When did we decide that our kids have to be in every activity, we must say ‘yes’ to every function, and every second should be scheduled for maximum entertainment and productivity?
God made men to explore, conquer, and discover— and not within the confines of a well-manicured subdivision. He needs time to hunt, fish, climb, camp, watch sports with the guys, or maybe (dare I say it?) kill the bad guys in his video game. Whatever it is that makes him feel alive—(Hint: it’s not in the office where he works)— he needs to be given time to pursue it.
What if we offer him time to be a man and go get recharged rather than making him beg for it? Odds are he’ll return the favor and encourage us to go for a pedicure and a girl’s night!
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13-14
6. Let him be the hero and delight in being his leading lady.
You know what your husband wants more than anything else? For you to look at him today the same way you did when you first fell in love. He wants to be your hero and he wants to sweep you off your feet. He may not look like it from here— falling asleep on the couch watching something pointless on TV or scrolling aimlessly on his smart phone. But he’s in there just waiting to be reawakened by his leading lady.
Your man needs to be needed by you. I know that you can take care of yourself and that this harsh world literally demands it of a woman today. But I’m asking you to make space in your heart and your life to be vulnerable—and to let yourself need your husband just the way God intended. Let him be your hero and delight in being his beautiful leading lady. It’s OK. I won’t tell Gloria Steinem. 😉
“You are so handsome, my love, pleasing beyond words!”
-Song of Solomon 1:16
7. Believe in him.
If you can do nothing on this list except this one thing— it just might be enough. Your husband needs you to believe in him. He is wired to have big dreams and big goals. If he doesn’t, he’s been so squashed by life and people, he’s become complacent. He needs you to see what he’s capable of and know he can conquer anything he puts his hands to. Especially when he can’t see it for himself.
When he fails, and sometimes he will, he needs you to be waiting in the wings so proud of your warrior you could just explode. Reassure him that the next time will be his time, that you’re so glad to be his, and you know God has huge things for him in this life.
That man of yours has no greater fear than failing and letting you down. How often do we make them feel like they did when they just picked the wrong outfit for the kids or something equally irrelevant? It’s their kryptonite and we have to be so careful. If we do it often enough, long enough, some men will grow weary and give up on us.
I don’t want that for you. I believe in you, your marriage, your family, and God’s plans for all of you. Please believe in your man and let him know it all the time.
“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” -Proverbs 31:10-12
I know this isn’t a popular message or particularly pleasant to hear. I realize that there are some marriages that this won’t apply to—where the wife is so honoring and the husband is mean-spirited, unloving, or worse. But by and large, the women I meet can sense a pinch of conviction in their hearts when they consider this with an open mind. It’s biblical truth and it’s the glue that has kept my marriage together through countless trials.
Let your husband be a man. There is a world-changing warrior inside of him just waiting to be unleashed. The crazy thing? God wired YOU to help unleash him. No one can give him what you can. No one is in a greater position to help that man succeed. I promise you’ll be blessed. The more we all come into the fullness of who God made us to be, we can be nothing but blessed. Before we part way today, let me pray for you:
Lord, I lift up this sister tonight in her pursuit to honor You and help her husband be all you created him to be. I ask that you Bless her. Overwhelm her with your goodness, meet her at her place of greatest need, and Lord please reveal to her heart only your truth from this message. I pray blessings over her marriage and her husband, and I ask that you would guide her as a wife. Show her the special things she can do and say that will unlock her one-of-a-kind man. Give her the energy, the fortitude, and the wisdom to let her husband be a man in every way. I ask that you place a hedge of protection around their home and family. Meet their every need. Bring from the North, South, East, and West all of the things and people necessary to fulfill your perfect will in their lives. And draw them closer to you daily, Lord. These things I pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
What would you add to this list? What special things do you do to let your husband be a man?
Read my follow up post written for husbands:
This post was written as part of the JORD Watches Influencer Program and is sponsored by JORD Watches. All opinions are mine only and do not reflect the opinions of JORD Watches.
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