Here’s a nugget of truth for you: Your spouse needs your encouragement. You may be saying, “Yeah, Gary and Barb, I knew that,” but are you doing something about it? Are you encouraging your spouse daily? Are you the one your spouse knows he or she can come to for encouragement in tough times?
Do you know what can happen if you don’t encourage your mate? Wives: If your husband doesn’t hear you cheering him on, he’ll feel continually discouraged and defeated – and then he’ll seek the applause somewhere else. Husbands: If you don’t appreciate and encourage your wife, she will turn elsewhere to get her needs met. If encouragement isn’t a steady part of your wife’s diet, she’s starving for it.
Here’s the reality:
- For wives:
- Men need the strong support of other Christian men – but the voice of affirmation they long to hear the most is that of their wife.
- Many men feel neglected and in need of their wife’s attention, affirmation and encouragement.
- For husbands:
- A woman has a larger than life need for her husband to whisper, declare, and shout to the world that she is the most important person in his life.
- It’s not enough to appreciate your wife – you have to tell her!
- Understanding your wife’s personality and character will help you tailor encouragement specifically to her.
So what does encouragement look like for your spouse? It’s different for every person, but generally husbands and wives see encouragement differently. If you want to grow in your ability to encourage your spouse, practice several of these suggestions:
How to Encourage Your Husband
- Encourage him to hear the applause. For the Christian man, the applause from heaven – God’s approval – is essential. But heavenly applause is sometimes tough to hear. We need to train our ears to hear the voice of Jesus. You can encourage your husband to do that. God has strategically placed you in your husband’s life to be his live-in encourager.
- Encourage him by reminding him of God’s work in his life. When you see your husband take a stand for what is right, affirm him by telling him you see God’s character in him. Bless your husband with encouragement from God’s Word when he is discouraged. Affirm your husband’s expression of the gifts of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) when you see him act in any of these ways.
- Encourage him to connect with his children. A father needs his children as much as they need him. When your husband gets preoccupied, be there to encourage him to spend him with his children. Remind him to make the most of his time because your kids won’t be under your roof forever.
- Encourage him to reach out and grow. Be tuned in to your husband’s need to continue to develop as a man. Encourage him to participate in events that will stretch him or help him grow. It’s true that you can’t force, whine, or nag your husband to be spiritually and relationally thirsty (and you shouldn’t try). But you must make a conscious, daily choice to root for your man.
How to Encourage your Wife
- Understand her wiring. The next time you see two women talking, watch them and listen to them. Notice how connected they sound. For a woman, this kind of connected conversation acts as a stress reliever and even a kind of therapeutic release. While your wife’s friends are important to her, it is absolutely vital that your wife gets this kind of support from you – her husband and best friend. At the end of a long day she wants to be able to share her feelings with you. She’s not looking for solutions. She wants to share her intimate thoughts so that her burdens can be lifted and her emotional ties to you strengthened.
- Give her first place. When your wife isn’t first place in your life, she feels overlooked and unimportant. Sometimes what you give first place to may seem so important that you don’t even recognize what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter how you justify it, nothing is more important than your wife or your family. Would you ever think of starving your wife of the food she needs to sustain her physical body? No! But you could be starving her of the very encouragement she needs to survive.
- Point out her potential. Affirm the truth about your wife’s abilities. We see with human eyes, of course, but all of us can remind each other of our God-given potential. Do this for your wife. Focus on her strengths, not her weaknesses. Try to see her the way Jesus would see her.
- Appreciate her contribution. Take advantage of moments to brag about your wife. In both private and public ways, you need to let your wife know how much she is appreciated. Nothing will encourage your wife more than for you to recognize her sacrifices and affirm her love and devotion to your family. Praise your wife for who she is.
We want to challenge you to find out what encourages your mate – whether it’s a kiss and hug at the end of the day, a word of appreciation when they’ve done something well, or just a note that says ‘I love you.’ Then take what you learn and encourage your spouse frequently, positively and authentically. Your mate needs to hear the voice of God leading and sustaining him or her and your mate also needs to hear you encouraging and believing in him or her!
Portions of this blog post were adapted from The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women.