How many husbands are secretly thinking, “Hey! What about me?” I know mine was—because he told me! During an argument… I mean, a discussion, he said, “You know, you do a great job taking care of the kids, and you always want to make things fun, fun, fun for them. But the things I need from you get pushed to the bottom of the list.” Not easy to hear, but he was right.
What about you? What do you put ahead of your husband? Your kids, your pets, your friends or hobbies?
Well think about this, if you don’t put your husband first, who will? Sadly, many men will look outside of their marriage for someone who will put them in the top spot.
Did you know that your husband craves your respect and admiration? In his book, Hidden Keys of a Loving, Lasting Marriage, Dr. Gary Smalley provides several practical ways to express admiration for your husband.
1. Seek His Advice.
By involving your husband in decisions, you are showing him that you respect his opinions and decision-making skills. Ask him his opinions on home decisions. Give him a few options for the dinner menu. Show him you value his advice by occasionally asking for it. However, Smalley warns, “Don’t overdo it though, for it might indicate to your husband that you are becoming too dependent and uncreative. Rather, maintain a balance by looking for special opportunities to seek his opinions and advice. As you carefully evaluate his ideas, he sees you consider him valuable.”
2. Remember His Requests.
Sometimes just simply remembering a comment in passing by your husband, then following through with it later, will make him feel incredibly special. Think back to a time where you casually mentioned an item you wanted and your husband surprised you with it. You felt special because he not only listened to you, but he made the effort to meet your need. Your husband is no different — he will appreciate signs of caring as well. Smalley explains, “Some facts about human relationships are as predicable as the laws of nature…. no one can continually ignore considerate, loving actions. If you make your husband feel special, you increase his desire to do the same for you.”
3. Brag on Him.
Casually lift your husband up in the presence of other people. This is not to say that you should obnoxiously brag about him to the point of annoying other people or embarrassing your husband. But simple comments to others about something nice he did for you, taking interest in what he says in group conversations, or a sincere compliment will go a long way toward making your husband feel appreciated. And be sure to always praise your husband to your children.
4. Understand His Job.
Take an active interest in your husband’s career and his feelings toward it. Smalley explains, “Many men are frustrated with their jobs, feeling that no one really appreciates their worth or value, their talents and abilities. When you appreciate what your husband does, you may become his only hope for achieving genuine self-worth. Until he really believes he is worth something, he will have difficulty focusing his attention on the worth of others — including you.” Smalley warns not to ever belittle his job, its importance to him, or his daily work activities. Smalley says, “Nothing destroys a man’s self-esteem more than to hear his wife cutting down his efforts to support her.” So show interest in your husband’s world of work, support him in his struggles, discover what he does on a daily basis, find out which projects he enjoys and which ones he doesn’t, and discover how he interacts with his co-workers. Don’t bombard him with questions all at once, but over time get to know who he is in his work life. And make sure he knows that your questions are meant to show interest in his life, not to pry or to imply that he loafs on the job. If you notice that he is unhappy with his job, Smalley advises, “When a man feels unimportant because of his job, it tears away at the very heart of his being. Help him discover the value of what he does.”
5. Be Open-Minded.
Listen to your husband’s decisions. This is not blind obedience, but rather open-minded listening. Rather than stubbornly holding on to your own wishes and immediately shooting down his wishes, discipline yourself to withhold your reaction and let his ideas sink in before you respond. By showing your husband that you respect his wisdom and leadership, you will be communicating that he is valuable. It is difficult for many of us to practice sacrificial love, and it is all too easy to make sure our own needs are being met, but try to show your husband you love him by respecting his leadership.
6. Express Admiration Verbally.
Who would you rather spend time with — someone who never says thank you or acknowledges your efforts to please him or someone who is considerate and makes you feel special? The same goes for your husband. He’s seeking affirmation and verbal appreciation from you. Smalley advises “Don’t let two days pass without expressing appreciation for at least one thing your husband has said or done during those forty-eight hours.”
7. Express Admiration Nonverbally.
According to Smalley, studies on marital communication show that verbal communication only accounts for 7 percent of the total communication between a husband and wife. The rest is comprised of voice tone (38 percent), and facial expressions and body movement (55 percent). That means that only a small portion of your meaning is conveyed through your actual words — the majority of your communication is in how you say it. So as you communicate with your husband, show you admire and respect him by reflecting it in your tone of voice and your body language.
8. Support His Goals.
Keep an eye out for your husband’s personal goals. He may not openly state them to you, so pay attention to his comments and actions that may reflect his deep desires for his life and your family. Give him plenty of support as he pursues his goals — whether they are advancing within his career, pursuing a higher educational degree, or enjoying a hobby or sport. For example, even though you may not particularly enjoy the social functions through his job, attend the company dinners with him to show you support his career. Or if he is actively involved in sports, attend his games. Encourage him when he feels like giving up on his dreams, and praise him when he accomplishes his goals.
9. Seek His Forgiveness.
Sometimes it’s difficult to admit we are wrong. Whenever you wrong your husband, don’t avoid the situation or blow it off with a casual, “I’m sorry.” Through sincere apology, acknowledge how you wronged him and seek his forgiveness. The best outcome of conflict is the strengthening of your relationship, so make sure conflict ends peacefully, and not as an unresolved issue. Show you respect and admire your husband by seeking reconciliation with him.
10. Concluding Thoughts…
Sometimes your husband may annoy you, and sometimes he may offend you, but Smalley says, “admiration looks beyond what he does to who he is. It’s unconditional.” And because men gravitate toward those who admire them, you will not only be meeting a need of your husband’s, but you will be improving your relationship as well.
This article is based on the book, Hidden Keys of a Loving, Lasting Marriage by Dr. Gary Smalley.