Most of us men can’t get enough of competition. We love the thrill of victory. But even more than that, we want someone cheering us on to that victory. All of us want— and need —a fan cheering us on; we need to know we are special, that our family is proud of us.
The nature of the game may change from youth to adulthood, but our need for affirmation and encouragement doesn’t. Men still need to know they have a few fans left. It’s the way we’re wired. That’s why the more than seven hundred men surveyed for our book, The Five Love Needs of Men and Women, said that their number four love need in marriage is for encouragement and affirmation.
While it’s true that as men get older the need for high fives from their male friends subsides a bit, they still need the strong support of other Christian men. But the voice of affirmation they long to hear most is that of their wife.
How to Encourage Your Husband
If you want to grow in your ability to encourage your husband, practice several of these suggestions.
Encourage Him to Hear the Applause
For the Christian man, the applause from heaven—God’s approval—is essential. But like every other guy, I’ve discovered that heavenly applause is sometimes tough to hear. Why? Well, for one thing, some men don’t know it exists. They love the salvation part of the Christian message, but when it comes to actually knowing God, they either don’t get it, or they feel they don’t really need it.
Other men have turned the volume down—way down. They aren’t spending enough time with God, especially enough quiet time apart from this noisy world, to clearly hear his voice. Their ears are so filled with the sounds of this world that they are constantly missing that still small voice.
That’s where you can provide real spiritual encouragement. Remind him of two things: God and you are there for him twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He can go to God—and to you—with anything.
Encourage Him by Reminding Him of God’s Work in His Life
Barb has discovered how to cheer me on as she consistently and appropriately reminds me of what God is doing in our lives. She is able to do this because she has planted “good seed” in her own life, and her root system now runs deep, grounded in the Word of God. Her skill at being an encourager is top-notch because she goes to the Source to obtain her own refreshment—God’s wisdom in the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.
In case you’re wondering if everything is perfect in our relationship, well, no, of course not. We’re two human beings, just like you. But we do have a great marriage, and a great deal of credit for that goes to Barb, who has mastered the skills necessary to become the consummate cheerleader and encourager.
Encourage Him to Be Accountable
God has given me five solid, strong friends to walk through life with me and to hold me accountable. Rather than resent the time I spend with these men, Barb understands how important this interaction is in my life.
Perhaps your husband has gone to Promise Keepers, and you have seen the work of a holy God in his heart when he came home: He is more tender, more spiritually focused, and more interested in strengthening your family. Or some other working of the Holy Spirit has prompted him to begin to grow spiritually. You, as his wife, must be
his main encourager in making God-focused changes, but godly men can also be a strong support for him in this process.
Encourage Him to Connect with His Children
A father needs his children as much as they need him. When I would get preoccupied, Barb was always there to encourage me to spend time with the girls. She would remind me to make the most of my time (Ps. 90:12) because our girls would not be under our roof forever.
An encouraging wife senses when there is a little too much distance between her husband and the kids—and she gently steers him closer. Barb has always done that for me, and it always pays off. As a result, I have the kind of relationship with our daughters that is truly a love affair of the heart.
Encourage Him to Reach Out and Grow
Barb is also tuned in to my need to continue to develop as a man. She gently encourages me to participate in events that will stretch me or help me grow.
Encouraging your husband may be doing something as simple as suggesting that he play Christian music on the stereo, reminding him of a new devotional book that you think he would enjoy, or pointing out an article in a Christian magazine. 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. He is thirsty for your encouragement.
The Power of Encouragement
Find out what encourages your husband. It may be that twinkle in your eye, that nod of approval, that gentle smile that sends the message “I am proud of you.” You can say it in a store-bought card or on a sticky note you put on his calendar or his mirror. But say it frequently, positively, and authentically.
Remind him of his worth in God’s eyes, as well as to you and your children. Build him up. Cheer him on. Encourage him to continue to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to remain faithful (2 Tim. 4:7). And help him fight the good fight and finish the race with you.