Often, when a group of women get together, somebody will share a personal concern or frustration related to her marriage. When this happens, do you offer encouragement to strengthen your friend’s marriage, or do you join right in the husband-bashing roundtable?
One of our husband’s most basic needs is having our respect. Being openly critical of your guy in front of others (including your children) doesn’t just reveal his shortcomings—it reveals your lack of respect for him. If you just need to vent, share with one trusted friend and seek advice or encouragement. Airing out your marital woes for the masses rarely yields good outcomes, and may just feed the fire of discontent.
So, how do you show your husband respect on a day-to-day basis?
1. Let him know that you appreciate the responsibility he bears for protecting and providing for your family. Granted, lots of households are two-career families where wives also contribute, but husbands often feel more pressure to have all the answers for their families. Let him know that you are grateful for his desire to care for you.
2. Encourage him in his chosen career, even when you feel like his work takes him away. Men are hard-wired with a need to achieve and produce, and feel closer to you when you express an appreciation for that. A husband who knows you understand his professional life will likely hear you out if and when you need to ask him to spend more time at home.
3. Be mindful of your tone of voice and expression when communicating with your husband, especially in moments of conflict. You might be surprised to know how easily your sarcasm or harshness is interpreted by him as contempt. You should be able to discuss anything in a marriage—but it should always be done with mutual respect.
4. Honor your husband in front of others—when he’s there to see it, and even when he’s not. Don’t give in to the urge to dump your husband’s faults out on the table for your girlfriends to rummage through and ridicule. If you really need to talk about your marriage, choose one wise friend or mentor in whom you can confide.
5. Acknowledge his value in all areas of family life. Talk to him about the children and ask his opinion about key areas of parenting, even if you will be the one to implement the strategy on a daily basis. Ask for his ear to analyze your situation at work. Even if his brand of problem-solving isn’t exactly like yours, you’ll likely learn something that will help, and affirm for him his importance in your life.
6. Respect his need for physical intimacy. Denying your husband this primary need is just another way of saying that he doesn’t matter. Furthermore, it creates greater emotional distance in the marriage, choking off the very affection and consideration wives desire.
It may seem old-fashioned to women who were raised with the cultural mantra of “me first,” but respecting your husband is one of the surest ways to bring peace and renewed intimacy to your marriage. Try it—you just might be surprised.