By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Everyone needs encouragement. I would venture to say some of us crave it, and all of us thrive on it. But it’s all too easy to tear one down with our words rather than build them up in the day-to-day routine of marriage. We tend to be ourselves with our husbands, say what’s on our minds, air our feelings, and expect them always to understand. But our husbands need encouraging words just like we do in order to feel respected, loved, and accepted for who they are.
Ephesians 4:29 gives us a command for how to talk to one another. It serves as an excellent guideline for marriage, as well: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Corrupting talk is often the result of not being careful with how we speak to our husbands. Speaking in a way that builds up others must be deliberate and intentional, focused on grace and talking to him like we’d want him to talk to us.
Whether your husband displays a tough exterior or wears his heart on his sleeve, there are certain words of encouragement he is craving to hear from you. Here are ten encouraging phrases or responses your husband needs to hear:
1. “You’re my hero.”
Your husband wants to be your leading man and your hero. He wants you to not only notice the risks or sacrifices he makes for his family, but he wants you to admire him for it, too.
Letting him know you are proud of him for certain things that he does, or simply for who he is, is not stroking his pride, building his ego, or making him vain. Instead, it is assuring him that his wife notices the efforts he has been making and appreciates him for it. More than just a “thank you” or “I appreciate you,” try saying, “You’re my hero.” That tells him he is a hero in your eyes, not just for what he does, but for who he is. Say it in front of your children, and it will build him up even more.
2. “I trust you.”
My husband, Hugh, was leading a men’s support group when he shared with me some insightful words: “Husbands need wife support just like someone who is having difficulty breathing needs life support.”
Hugh explained that one of the ways a wife can show support to her husband and truly encourage him is to trust him when he wants to take a risk or make it evident she is confident in him, even when he is unsure of himself.
“When he says ‘let’s do this, and you haven’t calculated the risks, costs and other factors, realize he desires to live spontaneously and adventurously,” Hugh said. “When your husband says ‘trust me on this one,' he might not have all the details, and he might not be able to explain why, just trust him. Women call it a sixth sense, but men call it a gut feeling. If he says ‘I’m going with my gut,’ indulge him.” When you tell him, “I trust you,” you are trusting his male instincts and encouraging him as a man and leader of his household.
3. “How can I help?”
Even if your husband doesn’t ask for your help, he often needs it. God anticipated husbands would need the help of their wives, and that’s why he created Eve for Adam (Genesis 2:18). I believe God even knew the specific ways your husband would need help, and so He specifically provided you as his wife. If you can’t anticipate your husband’s needs without him asking, ask him how you can help or ask if you can do something specific for him. When you do that, you are coming alongside him and being his helper, which is what God designed you, as his wife, to be.
4. “I’ll take care of it.”
Once your husband opens up and lets you know what he needs, your gift of an answer to him is “I’ll take care of it.” While it might be easier for you to give him a rundown of your schedule and all the reasons you can’t get to it, but would like to, remember that he needs your help, and you and I were created to be our husband’s helper. You can encourage his heart by simply helping him with things he can’t get to right away. And you can perk up his ears when you give him the encouraging words: “I’ll take care of it” or “I’ll try to get to it right away.”
By telling your husband, “I’ll take care of it” (even if he doesn’t ask), you are reassuring him that what is important to him is important to you. That builds him up and makes him feel important to you, as well.
5. “That’s okay, I make mistakes, too.”
We all make mistakes. Thankfully, we have a God who doesn’t dump us when we blow it. That’s because He’s a God of grace - a God of second, third, and a million chances. Your husband needs to know that you will extend grace to him, too.
In our book, When Couples Walk Together, my husband and I wrote, “grace is the glue that holds the two of you together.” And after more than 30 years of marriage (and at least 20 years helping other couples along), we are convinced it’s true. Show your husband grace when he makes a simple mistake, when he gets the story wrong, when he accidentally throws something out that you wanted to keep. Show him grace by frequently saying, “That’s okay, I make mistakes, too.”
6. “I’ve got your back.”
Men are warriors at heart. They understand the concept of a band of brothers, fellow soldiers, teammates on the court or field. You can speak his language – and let him know you love him enough to protect him in the ways that only a wife can – through your insights, your spiritual discernment, and your keen sense of the appropriate way to handle a situation. Let him know you’re watching his back (in a good way), being his eyes and ears, and giving him the insights that you possess with his best interest in mind. When he knows you desire his success, he is more likely to see your input as helpful, not controlling.
Your husband especially needs to hear that you’ve got his back when he tells you about something that he’s struggling with. (Hint: Do you know why men don’t often open up and talk with their wives about what causes them to struggle? They aren’t sure how their wives will respond.) Encourage your husband to be open and honest with you by letting him know that regardless of what he struggles with, regardless of how he thinks he doesn’t measure up, regardless of how much he believes he’s failing or is going to fail, regardless of what he needs to say but isn’t sure how, you are going through this with him, and you’ve got his back.
7. “Have a great time!”
In this increasingly tough economy, we are all finding ourselves working harder than before. That leaves many husbands feeling an excessive burden to support their families and feeling guilty if they do anything other than work, even if they’ve earned a break. Help your husband carve out time to enjoy himself and give him permission to do something apart from you and the children.
When was the last time you sent your husband out the door (to hunt, hang with the guys, or play a few rounds of ball) with the words, “Have fun!” If we’re not careful, we can get into boss mode (“Do you have time to do that and still get your work done?”) or mother mode (“Is that safe? I’m worried you might get hurt?”) or martyr mode (“Yeah, it would be nice if I could enjoy some time away, too, but I have my priorities straight”). Your words “Enjoy yourself” or “Have a great time” will encourage him as he realizes you recognize his need just to get out and play now and then, too.
8. “You’re the best.”
Your husband possesses a competitive nature. It’s ingrained in him to try to outperform the rest of the male species. Even if he is not the overtly driven type or isn’t consciously aware that he is competing, he still wants to hear you say “great job” or “that was awesome” or better yet, “You are amazing” in any number of circumstances – his play on the sports field or his “performance” in the gym, his well-stated definition of a term that no one else knew, the way he handled a disciplinary matter with his child, or how he expressed his opinion in front of others or defended you when you needed it most.
Yes, he wants to hear “You’re the best” in the bedroom too, and in the garage when he’s fixed something, and in the bathroom when he’s unclogged a toilet. When you recognize and affirm that’s he’s the best – or at least “amazing” – in your eyes, he will walk a little taller and most likely try a little harder. A man’s belief in himself is often directly proportionate to his wife’s belief in him. Encourage his heart and raise his confidence level in himself by reminding him often that you think he’s the best.
9. “You’re still the one.”
It’s very easy for a wife to think (or worse yet, say), “My husband is no longer the man I married.” And many times, that has a negative connotation to it. But hopefully, your husband is not the same as he was years ago. Prayerfully he is wiser and more seasoned and mature in his understanding of you and himself. Focus on those things you love about him and tell him verbally that you would still choose him today as the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Yes, he’s aware of how he’s disappointed you. Nearly every husband knows ways in which he has failed to meet his wife’s expectations. If you aren’t letting him know that he is disappointing you through verbal or nonverbal cues, he will draw that conclusion from his own wounds and insecurities. Let your husband know, especially when he feels he’s blown it, that you still need him, and you’d still choose him if you had to do it all over again. It’s another way to encourage him and show God’s unconditional love toward him when he needs it most.
10. “I’m with you for the long haul.”
We live in a world that is constantly changing. And we see relationships all around us that are constantly failing. Your husband likely works with (or knows of) other men whose marriages are blowing apart. He needs to know you are there for good, and just as God will never leave you, you will never leave him.
You made that promise when you married him, right? “As long as we both shall live.” I challenge you to have the mindset of 1 Corinthians 13:7 toward your husband and be a wife who “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (NASB) for God’s glory in your marriage. Your promise as you practice that kind of love and acceptance is found in verse 8: “love never fails.” When you can tell – and show – your husband that your love and acceptance of him will never change, you are encouraging his heart because you are loving him as God loves both of you.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is also a mother, pastor’s wife, and author of 17 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 150,000 copies sold), When God Sees Your Tears, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and When Couples Walk Together:31 Days to a Closer Connection, which she co-authored with her husband of 35 years. For more on her speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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