It took three words for me to realize I needed to make a change in the way I treated my husband: “What about me?” We were arguing and he said, “You know, you do a great job taking care of the kids, and you always want to make things fun for them. But I constantly get pushed to the bottom of the list. What about me?” It wasn’t easy to hear, but he was right.
We want so badly to be great moms, loyal friends, and successful in our careers that our husbands often get put last, or worse, we treat them like another one of the children because it’s just easier to stay in mom mode. Your husband craves your respect and admiration, but many women shy away from the idea because it feels antiquated. But treating your husband like a man doesn’t make you any weaker or less important. Try a few of these 9 ways to show you respect and admire him.
1. Seek his advice.
Many women make all the decisions for the household—what school to put the kids in, what paint to put on the walls, what streaming service to subscribe to. We assume our husbands don’t care or want to be involved but by involving your husband in decisions, you are showing him that you respect his opinions and decision-making skills.
Show him you value his advice by occasionally asking for it. Then listen and weigh the options. Don’t do this just to check the box or he’ll see right through it by the third time you say, “Uh-huh. That’s a great idea, but we’re still doing it my way.”
2. Remember his requests and preferences.
Over and over again, I buy a type of bread my husband doesn’t like. He says, “You bought the kind with seeds on the crust again.” I’ve asked him so many times if he likes it and my brain just won’t retain the tiny bit of information that he doesn’t. In my defense, I’m juggling the food preferences of the entire household. Remembering who likes what is a veritable feat of strength.
Think back to a time when 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 appreciates signs of caring and his desire to do the same for you will increase. By the way, my husband goes to the store with me now and he’s in charge of the bread.
3. Brag on him.
Casually lift your husband up in the presence of other people. Quick and sincere is the way to go. 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.
Think about something your husband is good at and look for an opportunity to bring it up at a time that feels natural. My husband is very mechanically minded. A friend asked if we knew how to attach a bike rack to a car and I piped up with confidence, “I’m sure he can figure it out. He’s great at stuff like that.”
4. Understand his job.
Many men are frustrated with their jobs, feeling that no one really appreciates their worth or value, their talents, or their abilities. When you appreciate what your husband does, you help build his self-worth. Until he really believes he is worth something, he will have difficulty focusing his attention on the worth of others—including you.
Avoid lashing out about his job when you’re frustrated or angry. Nothing destroys a man’s self-esteem more than hearing his wife cut down his efforts to support his family. So show interest in your husband’s world of work, support him in his struggles, and discover how he interacts with his co-workers. If you notice that he is unhappy with his job, talk about why his work is valuable.
5. Listen to him.
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 let his ideas sink in before you respond. By showing your husband that you respect his wisdom, 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 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. A great piece of advice from Dr. Gary Smalley is, “Don’t let two days pass without expressing appreciation for at least one thing your husband has said or done during those 48 hours.”
7. Express admiration nonverbally.
“Please, tell me what you think.” Those words mean one thing when said with a kind tone, seated, leaning in, and with eye contact. When said with sarcasm, an eye roll, and crossed arms they mean something completely different.
Only a small portion of what you say 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 reveal 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.
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.
What if he hasn’t earned your respect?
Did you start reading this article and say, “Yes, I treat him like a child because he acts like one. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like a man.” The hard truth is that not showing him respect will do nothing to change the situation for the better. No man responds to disrespect by acting more responsible or more loving. So why not give it a shot? Try upping your game and see how he changes.
This article is based on the book Hidden Keys of a Loving, Lasting Marriage by Dr. Gary Smalley.
In what ways do you struggle to show your husband respect?