As September begins, we are beginning to look forward to all of the great things about the fall season—including football! If you’re a football fan, what are the things you love most about game time? Is it the adrenaline? The excitement of a potential victory? Seeing your team play well?
We love it when we have the opportunity to attend a game. It’s hard not to feel the palpable energy of a stadium filled with fans when the heat is on, and one of our favorite things about game time is getting to be two of those enthusiasts, cheering our team to victory!
Can you imagine football games without fans? It would change the energy and maybe even the mindset of the players. Fans represent support, enthusiasm and loyalty, and their presence at game time reassures their team they believe in them. They are completely sold out for the cause—painted faces, crazy outfits, team colors, huge signs—they show up early and stay until the end. Most of all, true fans never stop cheering for their team. Whether winning by a landslide or trailing far behind, they continue shouting those cheers and pulling for their team until the clock runs out.
What do you think it does for athletes to know there are people who will root for them no matter what? Hopefully it boosts their confidence and makes them want to succeed. There is something about knowing you have someone’s full support whether you win or lose that inspires you to try things you otherwise might not try, and makes you believe things about yourself you otherwise might not believe.
The same truths apply in your marriage. You have the opportunity to be your spouse’s biggest fan in life and to cheer them on in all they do. Do you take this job as seriously as a diehard football fan?
In a marriage survey we did for our book, The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women, encouragement was ranked fourth as a top love need for both men and women. We all need encouragement, but men and women are different, so that encouragement can take different forms. We have found that a list of encouragement needs for a husband typically looks something like this: a card once or twice a year to tell them they are loved, an evening out every so often, a golfing (or sailing or bowling) buddy, a new challenge every five years to keep life interesting, and a slap on the back from the guys on the basketball court. A woman’s list looks more like this: daily doses of “I love you” (cards and flowers work well too!), one evening every week with just the two of you, a female friend in whom she can confide, frequent time-outs from her routine to recharge her battery, and supportive hugs from her female friends.
As you can see, a woman’s encouragement needs are different from a man’s! Women tend to need encouragement more frequently and consistently. They face daily battles whether at work outside the home, raising kids, taking care of the house, or juggling all of those things, and many more! Your encouragement has the ability to refresh her and spur her on in her daily tasks that can be so tiring. When I (Barb) am rushing around after an already exhausting day, trying to get dinner on the table between loads of laundry, or whatever is going on at the moment, sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed. But when Gary walks in the room and tells me how much he appreciates my hard work and how well he thinks I’m doing, it adds strength to my spirit and rekindles my energy. Edifying words go such a long way to encourage your wife. Your vote of confidence is often just what she needs to hear when she’s feeling overwhelmed.
Encouraging your spouse verbally is wonderful, but it’s just one of the ways you can cheer her on in life. Another way to encourage her is to help lighten her load. When your wife is rushing around trying to take care of things at home after a busy day, how can you step in and make life a little easier for her in that moment? She probably has a checklist in mind that she feels will never be finished by the end of the night. Helping her cross off a couple items on that list could change her evening from stressful to manageable. But don’t wait until your wife is running low on energy and time or feeling stressed. Just like a fan true to their team, your support is needed through the highs and lows. When you remind your wife you’re on her side and that you appreciate and believe in her, she is going to feel cared for and cherished.
Likewise, there are many ways in which your wife can encourage you. Ladies, when your husband is overwhelmed with work, finances, the kids—whatever—think about what kind of encouragement he responds to the most. Maybe it’s as simple as letting him know how much his hard work means to you and your family. Or maybe there’s a way you can step in and help out with the many things he also juggles. Sometimes you just need to ask! Marriage is all about learning how to love one another best according to your needs, and then finding ways to practically live it out.
Take time to think about how your spouse will benefit from your encouragement, and be creative! We cheer YOU on as you cheer one another on in your marriage!