Every woman has times when she feels discouraged, misunderstood, or afraid. We all do. Who does she turn to when the proverbial rug has been pulled out from under her? Where does she go when she is feeling alone or out of control? Who does she turn to when she is overwhelmed by circumstances? For a married woman, it should be her husband.
Both men and women need encouragement. So much so that both men and women rated encouragement as their number four need on our marriage survey for our book, The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women. But because men and women are different, that encouragement can take different forms.
Your Wife’s Need for Encouragement
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! I’m not afraid to admit that Gary holds an incredible position of power in my life. Why? Because he knows me best. And because he cares enough to understand that I think differently from how he thinks, he also understands what I need when it comes to encouragement.
Each woman is unique, so you need to be a student of your own wife. Understanding her personality and character will allow you to tailor your encouragement specifically for her. So how can you come alongside your wife and meet her need for encouragement? Let’s look at four specific ways:
Understand Her Wiring
The next time you see two women talking, watch them. Notice how intense they are. Listen to them. Even if you can’t hear the words, listen to the tone of their voices. Notice how connected they sound. Notice how the conversation moves back and forth, sort of like a tennis ball. Sometimes the flow is serious and fluid; sometimes it is light and peppery. For a woman, this form of connected conversation acts as a stress reliever and even a kind of therapeutic release.
While your wife’s friends are certainly important to her, it is absolutely vital that your wife gets this kind of support from you...her husband, her best friend. At the end of a long day, she wants to be able to share her feelings with you, without fear of judgment. 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
Every guy has a favorite hobby. It may be sports or music or cars… whatever it is, your wife wants you to enjoy it! But the tension begins to mount inside a woman when that hobby—or even your job—takes precedence over time with her. She will begin to feel neglected.
When your wife isn’t first place in your life, it really doesn’t matter if she’s second, third, or fourth. It’s all the same. A woman will feel completely overlooked and unimportant.
If your wife tells you that you are spending too much time at work or partaking in your favorite hobby, don’t feel threatened. She is telling you that no one can replace you in her life and that she needs your companionship and encouragement to complete her the way no one else can. The core message is “I love you and need you.”
Point Out Her Potential
Years ago I was taking a night class in painting and portraiture to continue my growth and education as an artist. The instructor was well respected, but his manner of criticism left something to be desired. One night, after I had spent the entire evening working on a painting, the instructor stopped beside me, took my canvas from the easel, and verbally ripped it apart. I was devastated and went home in tears, determined never to paint again.
The next day, Gary came home from work and handed me two packages. Inside were an easel and a wooden box full of Rembrandt pastels. “Enough of your wallowing!” he said. “God gave you a talent, and you’re going to paint. Get moving—now!” None of this was said harshly. But it was said firmly, with love, as he affirmed the truth about my abilities.
It reminds me of the story of Jesus and his dealings with the paralytic man who was let down through the roof to be healed. The Savior was strong, direct, and clear. He told the man to stand up, take his mat, and go home (Luke 5:24). And he did. Gary told me to take my palette and paint. And I did.
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
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.
Also, be aware that your silence sounds like rejection to your wife. Don’t assume she automatically knows how you feel about her. She needs to be continually reminded. Worry, stress, the kids, your mother—anything can knock the wind out of her, causing her to forget what you told her last week. She is on the front lines of battle and needs constant reinforcement.
Show your wife, in word and deed, some encouragement each and every day and I guarantee you it will revitalize and strengthen your marriage!