Many men feel inadequate at home.
The majority of men do want to be good husbands. But in the same way they worry that they not know everything about being a good employee, they secretly worry that they don’t know how to be a good husband, provider, or handyman.
“At least at work,” one man told me, “I have an idea of how to succeed—work hard, get ahead, complete assignments, and get in good with the boss. At home, what is the measure of success? How do I know whether I am a success or a failure?”
Not surprisingly, men said they judge themselves—and feel that others judge them—based on the happiness and respect of their wives.
What Your Husband Wants You to Know
If a man feels like he’s trying to bluff his way through this being-a-husband thing, you can imagine his relief when he can tell that his wife feels loved and happy, or when she publicly honors him and his “husbanding abilities.” And conversely, you can imagine the trepidation he feels when he receives the cold shoulder confirmation that he got it wrong again, that he is indeed an impostor and he doesn’t know what he’s doing in his personal life.
What Should Wives Do?
It’s not your man’s responsibility to figure all of this out on his own. Once we understand what our husbands secretly feel and think, our words and actions can make a huge difference.
- Affirm him! Home is the most important place for a man to be affirmed. If a man knows his wife believes in him, he is empowered to do better in every area of his life.
- Don’t tear him down! If instead of affirming, a wife reinforces her husband’s feelings of inadequacy, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Create a safety zone. Men need a place where they can make their mistakes in peace and not constantly worry that they are one misstep away from being exposed. If we don’t realize this and are perhaps too attentive to their mistakes at home, we risk creating a situation that is the opposite of what we want.
- Supportive sex. “Sex plays a huuuuuge role in a man’s self-confidence!” reported one husband to me via e-mail. “A man can be having a horrible time at work, but if his wife wants him physically and affirms him in bed, he can handle the rest of the world, no problem.”